I'm quite an attacking player, I like to get at people. I like to keep the ball, which suits the way Marta likes to play.Lucy Whipp
She has spent the past four years at St. John's University, in the New York City borough of Queens, playing for the Red Storm in the Big East.
But now she's back after completing her studies a better and more rounded player than she was when making her Barclays Women's Super League debut aged 17 for Everton Ladies.
Ironically, Everton are the opposition for Blues opening league game of the season at Solihull Moors on 8 September (2pm), and Whipp can't wait.
We caught up with the Ormskirk-born attacker this week after training to talk to her about joining Blues Women and her return to these shores from the USA.
How have you settled in Lucy?
"The team and the staff have been really welcoming. There's a lot of new players so we've all kind of been in the same situation, so that's
nice and it helps. We are all trying to build up something good together."
Does it help that so many of the squad are new and have been thrown into things together?
"Yes, finding a house with one another, small things like that. Just getting used to the surroundings, training, new team - we're all in the same boat."
How has pre-season gone so far?
"It has been tough. The usual running and conditioning. Match fitness will come with games. But yes, it has been good. We have played a lot of football in training as well, working on the way we will play."
And the response to the style Marta Tejedor is after?
"She likes us to keep the ball on the floor, pass our way around the field instead of just kicking it down there up in the air. Training time kind of reflects that, we do a lot of small-sided possession games, which I enjoy."
You have a strange accent, haven't you, a hybrid Liverpudlian and New Yorker?
"Yes, I have had a few comments about that! First time I went into the dressing room it was like 'where are you from?'. Well it's a bit of Northern, Scouse, American . . . it's nice to be back in England in the Barclays WSL. After the World Cup, I think it will be a really strong league with lots of interest."
I'd imagine everyone would be looking forward to that, the buzz around the Barclays WSL after the World Cup?
"I think it should gain a lot of momentum (the WSL). Every team is very competitive. It's going to be tough. But that's what you want, to be playing against the best players every week. It's exciting."
It's certainly going to be different, from when you made your Everton debut aged 17?
"A lot has changed since then. Everton weren't even professional at that time. We'd come in, train during the evening, go to school or do A levels in the day. Others had day jobs. Now I can just focus on the football, put everything into that. It's definitely a lot better now."
It was a big deal for you to go to the States. What was your thought process at that time?
"It was kind of like continue to play professionally here or make the switch and go to University. It was one of the other. Going over there, they have a great system for sports so I could balance both (football and study). So it gave me the opportunity to come out with a degree and then play professionally afterwards. So I am set for the future as well."
St. John's has got a good reputation for sport, hasn't it? Basketball is a big programme?
"Yes, basketball is big. They play games at Madison Square Garden, it was cool to see them there. Queens is very different to Liverpool! I enjoyed it. Really diverse. There are a lot of things going on, never a dull moment in Queens."
What did you study?
"I did legal studies, which is pretty boring! I'd like to turn that into a law degree, later down the line while I am here. I'm sticking with football for now though, we'll leave that for the future."
What was the standard of football like?
"Good. Very competitive. The American way is all about winning, doing everything you can to win. That was good to get into that mindset. It was very physical. Everyone is really fit. That almost came before the football sometimes. It was like you had to be really fit first and
then focus on the football. There were technical players as well so I think it helped me develop both sides of my game playing over there."
After completing your course, were you always intent on coming back to England?
"I was open-minded. I was looking to Europe. But the chance of playing in the WSL was a big draw."
What do you hope to bring to Blues Women this season?
"I have a bit of experience playing WSL for Everton, but I was young. I'd say I'm quite an attacking player, I like to get at people. I like to keep the ball, which suits the way Marta likes to play. Bit of pace, as well."
And as a team, the ambitions? It will take a while to bed down I'd imagine?
"Obviously we had a good season last season, finishing fourth. So to go above and beyond that is the aim really. You don't want to take steps backwards. There are obviously some great teams in the league, but I think we can compete with anyone on our day. We will take
every game as it comes and look to get as many wins as we can."
Blues Women are now full-time at the Trillion Trophy Training Centre, Wast Hills. That has to be a major plus, sharing the facilities with the men?
"There are loads of pitches to choose from, we have the strength and conditioning areas, we can do our pre-hab and have analysis meetings. Being all in one place is a definite plus. It's really good.
Buy your ticket for Blues v Everton online in advance and save compared with on-the-gate prices.
Online advance tickets are priced at £7 for adults and £4 for concessions (U16s/65+).
On-the-gate is £10 for adults and £7 concessions (U16s/65+).
*Advance tickets will be available to purchase online via Birmingham City’s ticketing site until Friday 6 September.