During the 2015 NWSL College Draft in Philadelphia, defending champions, FC Kansas City, used the team’s first draft pick (12th overall) to bring Shea Groom home.
Groom, who is originally from Liberty, Missouri—just 15 miles outside of Kansas City—played collegiately at Texas A&M University, finishing her career with 41 goals and 25 assists.
“I’ve known [head coach] Vlatko [Andonovski] for many years,” Groom said after being drafted. “I had the opportunity to train [with the coaches] so I’m very familiar with them and I was hoping to hold on [to be picked by Kansas City] but I had no idea it was going to happen.”
Though Groom was selected early in the second round, Andonovski said he got exactly who he wanted.
“Of course we didn’t draft until the 12th pick overall,” he said. “But I think that even if we had a higher pick in the first round, we were still going to go with Shea, so the plan worked perfectly.”
Huw Williams, the team’s director of soccer operations, is a big name in Kansas City soccer and has known Groom for many years.
“He coached me probably from the time I was 10 all the way through my youth career,” Groom said. “He’s been so instrumental in my career and has done everything for me.”
In addition to being familiar with FC Kansas City’s coaching staff and location, Groom will also see at least one other familiar face when preseason begins: her Aggies teammate, Meghan Streight.
Streight, a four-time all-conference defensive player, was selected as the 16th overall pick by the Blues.
Moments after choosing Streight, the Blues were back on the clock with the 17th overall pick. The team ended up selecting UCLA goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland.
During her time with the Bruins, Rowland racked up 55 shutouts (an NCAA record), and a goals-against average of 0.40. She also stopped 202 shots and only suffered six losses in her collegiate career.
With the team’s third draft selection, Andonovski and Williams selected Colorado College midfielder Jessica Ayers as the 26th overall pick.
In her career with the Tigers, Ayers scored 32 goals, had 10 assists and was twice named to the Hermann Trophy Watch List (2013, 2014).
“Jessica Ayers is someone I’ve followed for a while now,” Andonovski said. “I think she’ll add a little more [of a] dynamic.”
Midfielder Kaysie Clark, of the University of Missouri, was the fifth, and final, draft pick selected by last season’s champions.
Clark is another local talent for the Bleus. Like Groom, she also grew up in Liberty, Mo. and attended Liberty High School.
The midfielder recorded 15 goals and 22 assists during her career.
“We know Kaysie Clark very well,” Andonovski said. “She’s from Kansas City. She actually played for Huw Williams and I’ve known her for years. Her mentality, her style fits very well with us.”
With local ties between Williams, Groom and Clark as well as Aggie connections between Groom and Streight, familiarity could prove to be beneficial when the Blues begin their quest to a consecutive NWSL championship.