Oborne Enjoying Time with U.S. National Team

Oborne Enjoying Time with U.S. National Team

Jan. 28, 2004

On occasion, U.S. Women's National Team players have been known to travel with a particularly meaningful stuffed animal, none more legendary than "Mr. Koala," a stuffed Koala Bear toy belonging to defender Jenny Benson, which she received on her first birthday and has taken on every single soccer trip she's ever been on. "Mr. Koala" made trips to China with Benson in 2001 and 2003, but as she is not on the roster for the Four Nations Tournament, midfielder Leslie Osborne's "Conference Kyle" is picking up the slack.

2002 U-19 World Champs Lori Chalupny, Leslie Osborne, Lindsay Tarpley and Heather O'Reilly get there picture taken with a huge, pink Chinese statue.

"Conference Kyle" was given to Osborne by her boyfriend, Kyle, the starting point guard on the Santa Clara Broncos basketball team as a congratulations gift after she was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Year, hence the name. The "Build-A-Bear" is complete with a soccer uniform with Osborne's college number 10, cleats, shin guards and a small soccer ball attached to its left foot.

Leslie Osborne gets up close and personal with some live Peacocks at the Chinese Folk Culture Villages.

While "Conference Kyle" looks like a lion or a tiger, "it's actually a leopard," said Osborne. The bear, umm... leopard, somehow has lost one cleat and one shin guard, but is still in much better shape than the much traveled, much stitched "Mr. Koala," who turned 26 on January 25. Osborne took "Conference Kyle" on his first road trip to the NCAA quarterfinals where the Broncos fell to UNC, but says she is starting a new lucky streak with the bear after having made the roster for the Four Nations, her first trip abroad with the full National Team.