FEATURE: THE IMPORTANCE OF THE NWSL COLLEGE DRAFT

“There's nothing better than hearing your name [in the NWSL draft] and knowing that your wait is over.” Frances Silva PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Ks. (January 2, 2015) – As we ring in the New Year here at FC Kansas City, we are heavily immersed in preparation for the upcoming season. The 2015 NWSL season approaches and fans across the country are eager to see which players will be wearing the FC Kansas City uniform this year.

Anticipation rises as time moves on and FC Kansas City’s Director of Soccer Operations, Huw Williams, is looking forward to the 2015 NWSL College Draft, which will be on Friday January 16, 2015 at the National Soccer Coaches of America Association (NCSCAA) Convention Center in Philadelphia.

“After the conclusion of another exciting and well played women’s college cup, our technical attention is now firmly on the college draft.” Williams said.

The reigning and defending NWSL Champions FC Kansas City have made right decisions in the past by drafting key players, which played important roles for the team to win it’s first ever title.

“We have been successful in the past two drafts by bringing in many players who have helped our team. Some of our draft picks have also helped us to continue to build the strength of our squad through our trades,” Williams said. “As with the other drafts there are players coming out of college this year who will have an immediate impact on NWSL rosters. Our plan is in place and we are excited to execute in January.”

This year’s draft will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and will be open to the public and media. Fans will also be able to follow the draft on Twitter (@NWSL) and Facebook.

The draft order is based upon the teams’ performance in the standings at the conclusion of the 2014 regular season. Last year’s class consisted of 196 players. The 2015 edition of the NWSL College Draft anticipates a similar number.

Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski’s team has a total of six picks. However, the Blues will not be able to make any selections in the first round as a part of Amy LePeilbet’s trade last season.

Nevertheless, Kansas City will have three out of its six selections in the second round with the twelfth, sixteenth and seventeenth picks. The third round will see Andonovski select two more players with the nineteenth and twenty-sixth selections. Lastly, the Blues will choose their final selection in the fourth round with the thirty-fifth pick.

As with any professional draft, the prospective players are either live in person waiting to hear their name called, or glued to their laptops or TV with cell phones in hand waiting on that special call to let them know the future of their career, and what city they’ll be moving to.

Last year, FC Kansas City drafted Frances Silva. At the end of the season, she played a total of 568 minutes in 18 matches where she scored two goals and recorded one assist.

“I had a good idea that FC Kansas City wanted to draft me, it was just about when and whether another team would take interest before them. It's a bit nerve-racking but there's nothing better than hearing your name called and knowing that your wait is over.” Silva mentioned.

Midfielder Jenna Richmond was drafted by the Blues in 2013 and remembered what hearing her name felt like.

“I was at home when the draft happened and was sitting with my laptop on the table with my family. I was unsure what was going to happen in the next couple of hours, but I was prepared and ready to go to any team.” Richmond said.

“It was in the second round, sixteenth overall, when I received a phone call. I looked down on my phone and saw the number was coming in from a Missouri area code and at that moment I turned to my family before answering and said, ‘I think I am going to Kansas City!’” Richmond shared.

As the Director of Soccer Operations and Assistant Coach, Williams contacted the UCLA Bruins graduate to share the big news.

“It was Huw who called and congratulated me,” Richmond said. “He wanted to let me know that FCKC was going to select me. A sense of relief came over me and as soon as I hung up the phone, my name was announced and I was selected by them. I was so excited to start my professional career in Kansas City and it is a day that I will never forget.”

Every athlete experiences a different recruiting process. Some players are able to make a name for themselves through college, while others seek workouts or training sessions to get in some play for specific coaches or teams.

The 2013 NWSL Rookie of the Year, Erika Tymrak had a different experience.

“The draft was a crazy experience for me. I wasn't really sure if I would be drafted or even end up playing in the new league. I had a few overseas options and was pretty much just waiting to see what would happen at the draft,” Tymrak said. “I woke up early in the morning to follow the draft online, just in case my name was called.”

Nothing but surprise followed by excitement invaded the Detroit, MI native who spent her collegiate years at the University of Florida.

“When FCKC drafted me as their second pick I was speechless. I had never been to Kansas City before, but was so excited to start a new adventure.” Tymrak remembered.

Shortly after being selected, Tymrak found out there was no better fit for her.

“I talked to Vlatko and Huw and I loved their vision and plan for the new team. The second they told me they wanted to play a possession oriented style of play I knew I was at the right team,” Tymrak said. “My style of play is a bit different than most, and I wasn't sure I would fit in wherever I played. But the more I talked with the coaching staff the more I realized Kansas City was the perfect team for me.”

The opportunities for women soccer players have grown exponentially with the recent success of the US Women’s National team and the impact the National Women’s Soccer League has made.

“Coming in as a rookie was nerve-racking to say the least. The level of play in college and professional are drastically different and believe me, it takes a little bit to get used to the new speed of play,” Tymrak said. “But the more I trained the better I got and the more comfortable I felt with the girls. I learned so many things my rookie year, which helped me become a better player and athlete.”

With the acquisitions of Heather O’Reilly, Kate Deines, Rafaelle Souza and Yael Averbuch and the 2015 NWSL College Draft around the corner, FC Kansas City will be looking to successfully defend the title.

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