During her formative days playing youth soccer, Long Island native Phallon Tullis-Joyce proved she was willing to take a road trip.
The Shoreham native and Longwood High School graduate was a member of several local teams across the New York Metropolitan area including Farmingdale United, WPSL FC Westchester Elite and New Jersey-based Match Fit Colchesters.
Now, after completing her college career at the University of Miami, Tullis-Joyce has taken an even longer road trip.
Embarking on her professional career, Tullis-Joyce is now a member of Stade De Reims of the women’s Ligue 2 in France. The team sits in first place and should it finish the season at the top of the table, Stade De Reims will earn promotion to the prominent Ligue 1.
“I love it here,” she told SleterFC.com in an interview from France. “I love the team, the coaches and the training facility.”
In speaking with SleterFC.com, Tullis-Joyce talked about the start of her professional career, her first few weeks overseas and her goals for the future.
SLETERFC.COM: How did the opportunity to play for Stade De Reims come about?
PHALLON TULLIS-JOYCE: When I finished up at the University of Miami I created a highlight video. That video was sent to Stade De Reims as they were looking for another keeper, as their second keeper was leaving the team to focus on academics. My highlight video was sent and I was given a one-week tryout to see if I was capable of playing at their level. It was a real whirlwind.
SFC.COM: What was the one-week tryout like?
PTJ: When I left for France I wasn’t sure if I should pack for a week for six months. But I decided to bring everything I had. I have been playing goalie since I was 12 and I knew what I had to bring to the table. I felt I definitely had a shot and just had to play how I play and let things happen.
SFC.COM: Are there big differences in style of play?
PTJ: It is much different here, but it’s a style that I want to be involved in. The players are quick and intelligent and the play is very technical. That goalkeeper is also used more and in a lot of ways is a field player, which is something I know I need to work on. Also, the shots come much quicker. There is no windup. They just take the shots.
SFC.COM: How has your adjustment been to living in France?
PTJ: I need to give a shout out to the coaches who have been so welcoming. I am also taking French classes twice a week and working with the U13 and U15 keepers in the academy. But I love Europe and have been taking a lot of morning walks. I love looking at all the architecture.
SFC.COM: Was playing in Europe professionally always in your plans?
PTJ: During my last season in college I was focused on opportunities to play in Europe. While (Stade De Reims) is currently in Ligue 2, we have a chance for promotion to Ligue 1, which would allow me to play against some of the best players in Europe. I also want to keep pushing and play for the U.S. national team.
SFC.COM: You mentioned earlier that you started playing keeper at the age of 12. What attracted you to the position?
PTJ: I started playing soccer when I was four and was a field player. We were playing a game on my youth team at the time and if you were able to save shots you stayed in the game. And I stayed the longest. My coach asked me if I wanted to try the position and I began training as a keeper and loved it. It’s a challenging but rewarding position.
SFC.COM: What memories stand out from your playing days on Long Island?
PTJ: I’ll always remember my goalie training session with Kurt Kelley at KK Athletics. He was the one that really taught me how to play the position. One time he actually blindfolded me with a sock and told me to try and sense the ball.