Being drafted in any professional league is special. For female soccer players, the opportunity to be drafted into a professional league doesn’t come by often. As the National Women’s Soccer League begins its inaugural season this spring, 32 players have had that opportunity to see their name announced as one of the chosen few.
Florida State defender Casey Short was the fifth of the 32 players who were drafted in January. For many of these players, the thought of making it to the next level was one that pushed and guided them throughout their club and collegiate careers. After two previous leagues folded after just three seasons of play, they know that being able to play professional soccer in the United States is anything but a guarantee.
Short entered her name into the draft just after the Seminoles’ season ended with an overtime loss in the College Cup semifinals to Penn State.
“Well I was pretty depressed for a while after the NCAA tournament, but my focus shifted to my next goal of being drafted,” Short said. “I was very nervous after I entered my name in the draft because I didn’t really have too much of an idea of what was going to happen. I talked to my coach, Mark Krikorian, a few times and he helped calm me down and was positive but at the end of the day, I knew that nothing was guaranteed come draft day. Some days I felt really good about it but other days I would get down because being drafted has always been a dream so the thought of that not happening was crushing.”
Short need not have worried. The Boston Breakers made her their first selection (no. 5 overall) in the January draft. In these days of social media, Short’s father saw that she had been drafted before she had through Twitter.
“To be honest, I was completely caught off guard,” she said. “My dad called me at the same time that I saw the tweet pop up and I was speechless at first. It took a few minutes for it to settle in but I hugged my roommate, Taylor Vancil, and celebrated with her. That was the first of two celebrations for the day as she got drafted shortly after.”
(Photo courtesy of the Boston Breakers)
Leading up to any draft come the predictions and the speculation of where the top players will go and the players aren’t immune to the guessing games from media and fans alike. Short, who was already nervous about if she would be drafted, experienced a rollercoaster of up and down days leading up to the draft. She had read some of the speculation leading up to the draft but reminded herself that it was only one person’s opinion.
With being drafted so early also come the expectations and the pressure to perform well. While the final order of the draft picks may mean more to some people than to others, Short falls into the latter of the two.
“It certainly is an honor and a dream come true to be drafted as a top five pick, however rankings have never really meant too much to me because it really just comes down to how you perform on the field,” she said. “Everybody has to prove themselves on the field whether they are the number one pick or the last pick.”
Short was competing for a spot on the backline that features Cat Whitehill, who has extensive National team experience, as well as Kia McNeil and Canadian Rhian Wilkinson. Former United States defender Heather Mitts retired on March 13, leaving an outside back position to fill. Short suffered an ACL/MCL tear during a trip with the U-23 Women’s National team at the end of February which ended her bid to make the Breakers roster for 2013.
The injury will allow her to explore Boston and to see the city as well as take in some of what Boston has to offer on the sports scene.
The Breakers have some of the most spirited fans and Short was welcomed into the Breakers family by fans via Twitter upon being drafted.