Erika Tymrak: Transitions

by: Lindsey Daley,Special contributor to FCKansasCity.com

On January 18, 2013 FC Kansas City drafted midfielder Erika Tymrak in the second round of the National Women’s Soccer League 2013 College Draft. It was a day that would change Tymrak’s life. The 21-year-old former Florida Gator was excited for her chance to play professionally in the United States. “I had a team in Sweden I was talking to, but I told them if I was drafted, I would stay here [in the United States].”  She left sunny Florida and headed for Kansas City.

Tymrak had just graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in criminology weeks before the NWSL College Draft. The accolades for Tymrak while at Florida and before college are overwhelming. She received Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year, Southeastern Conference Tournament MVP and NSCAA Player of the Week all in her senior year. Going further back, she was a part of the U17 United States Women’s National Team squad that was runner up in the FIFA World Cup and led her club team to the U19 Florida State Cup in 2009.

Going from the college game to the professional one was an adjustment for Tymrak. She found the speed, passion and overall style of play to be a level up in Kansas City.  The coaches and the rest of the team helped with the transition to professional soccer. “I love going to practice because of the intensity…and I can feel myself getting better as a player.” It’s easy to see why when you see her lineup on the practice field with Lauren Holiday and Becky Sauerbrunn.  She credits Holiday for helping her to see the field and find her teammates, Sauerbrunn is there to help her read defenses and find the holes she can exploit as she drives towards goal.  To top that off, she gets to shoot on Nicole Barnhart, one of the world’s best goalkeepers.  If you can score against ‘Barnie’, you can score against nearly anyone.

As for Kansas City, the move was a pleasant one. The hot summer days are nothing new to her after spending her college years in the Florida sun, but the early season cold was also easy for the Michigan native to navigate through.  Tymrak loves having barbeque food readily available; she indulges once or twice a week. Tymrak spends her time off the field with the team. The team chemistry that is on-display every week on the pitch is evident off the field as well.  Tymrak and her teammates can often be found shopping on Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza and enjoying their nights at the Power & Light District downtown.

Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski loves the potential that he sees in his midfielder.  “When our turn in the draft was coming up and Tymrak was still on the board, we were really excited.  We had our draft card filled out with her name on it even before they could finish announcing the pick before her.”  He has eased her into the lineup this season.  Tymrak saw limited minutes through matches early in the season, including ten minutes in the inaugural match against Portland Thorns FC. Her first start would come against that very club on June 6, 2013 in Portland. A controversial red card to teammate Lauren Sesselmann in the previous match forced Andonovski to shuffle his lineup and gave Tymrak her first starting opportunity.

Unsure of her future in the starting lineup, she decided, “I just wanted to make the best of it.”  She felt that she had a bit of a rough start in the first half between the nerves and 10,886 fans along with countless others across the globe watching online. After calming down over halftime, she came back relaxed and in the rhythm of the game. In the 81st minute, the score was 4-2 in favor of Portland. Leigh Ann Robinson received a pass from Desiree Scott beyond the box. Robinson found a running Tymrak and slid her the ball. Tymrak then set up and sent a shot flying past seven Portland defenders and goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc to find the back post and her first professional goal. Tymrak remained humble even after her goal, “I felt bittersweet about scoring because we were down.” Her goal would be the last of the match for both clubs. Since that strike she has found the net three more times and is currently second on the team with four goals scored.

As for the future, Tymrak is focused on FC Kansas City and what she can do to help the team. The NWSL playoffs are coming up in August and Tymrak is determined to do what she can to get the ‘Blues’ into the playoffs and ultimately, win the championship. Winning the inaugural championship is not the only thing on the mind of Tymrak and the rest of her FC Kansas City teammates.  Tymrak says, “It’s a goal for the team to play a style we enjoy.” They want to provide a quality game for younger girls to look up to. Sights are also set on playing for the United States’ Women’s National Team for Tymrak, but she says FC Kansas City and the team’s goals are first. Tymrak has now found her place on the team she said, “I feel extremely blessed and thankful for everyone helping me.” Tymrak has already made a name for herself in Florida, now she is making one in Kansas City and the NWSL…next on her list…the world.