COLUMBIA — Two-time Olympian Jenny Bindon didn't just talk about the hard work needed to become a world-class soccer goalie, she went out on the field and gave a demonstration.
Bindon made a special appearance Thursday at Columbia High School, giving a 30-minute inspirational talk to the girls soccer team, then holding a one-hour workout with goalies.
"I love it," Bindon said. "If they get something out of it, it's all worth it. If everyone would just give back a little bit, the world would be a pretty good place."
Bindon, a Belleville West graduate who has competed in two Olympics as the goalkeeper for the New Zealand women's national soccer team known as the Football Ferns, is finishing up a three-week visit to the metro-east.
Bindon said she came back home to celebrate for her twin sister Sarah Kasper's 40th birthday on Feb. 25.
"It was her 40th birthday, so I came to surprise her," said Bindon, conveniently failing to mention that it also was her 40th birthday. "My mom (Ginger Bourn) and Sarah got a big surprise. My brothers and Sarah's husband, John, were in on it."
Columbia Unit 4 Superintedent Gina Segobiano and her husband, Tony, an assistant soccer coach at Belleville West, are neighbors to Sarah and John Kasper in Millstadt, and they helped arrange Bindon's appearance at Columbia High School.
Goalies from both the Columbia girls and boys teams as well as goalies from the Belleville West girls team got some hands-on training tips from Bindon.
"I liked it," Columbia junior goalie Eddie Starr said. "She really showed me some new stuff that I'd never seen before. To have an international level goalkeeper come out and do some stuff with us, it's really cool. It's an unbelievable experience. She was helping out the field players and everything, which I thought was really cool."
Columbia goalies Claire Foster and Alison Riddle were surprised by how long Bindon worked with them.
"I thought she was going to show us a couple of things and let us go," Foster said. "She actually took the time to show us what we were doing and what we should be doing."
Bindon's soccer career was in jeopardy after suffering a concussion and memory loss from a collision with U.S. women's star Alex Morgan during the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England.
Morgan's knee hit a sliding Bindon in the head, snapping it violently back.
"It was a good knock," Bindon said.
Bindon said the blow left her unable to write on a piece of paper.
It took seven months, but she finally recovered and was cleared to play again right before making her trip to the metro-east.
"It was touch and go for a while there," Bindon said. "Five months into it, it was pretty scary. I'm back to normal, and I feel pretty lucky and blessed."
Bindon is returning to Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday. She works as a sports coordinator at primary school -- a job she said was similar to being an athletic director -- and she plays on a men's club soccer team.
The Football Ferns will play an exhibition match against Japan, the reigning World Cup champions in May.
Bindon said her next goal is to compete with the Football Ferns in the World Cup in two years and then possibly play in another Olympics in 2016.
"I'm loving it, so I want to keep on doing it," Bindon said. "I'll probably do stuff like this when I get done. I just love giving back, I love the game and I love being active. I just don't know anything else."
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.