It really is the most wonderful time of the year - the NWSL Draft is here! As fans of the game, we are beyond STOKED. There have already been some crazy moves made over the past few weeks, so we know the draft is only going to get even wilder! In order to prep for the big day we sat down with two of the baddest women in the biz. Assistant coaches for NWSL's Gotham FC - Bev Goebel Yanez and Becki Tweed. *heart eyes*
Becki: Any player who is currently in college and wants a chance to go pro can enter their name into the draft. Clubs will then take turns based on the agreed draft order to pick from these players. There are 4 rounds, with 12 picks in each round. Once a player is picked by a club, this club then has their rights- they can invite them into preseason, they can sign them to a contract or they can then trade the players rights to another club who may want to sign them.
Becki: This year because of the expansion and 2 teams being added (LA and San Diego) they get the first 2 picks in the college draft. After that the order is based on how the league table finished last season from bottom to top- so league winners get the last pick of the round. Teams will trade their picks before the draft, so now looking at this year, San Diego has the first pick (they won the coin toss between them and LA). LA traded their pick in a deal to get Christen Press with Louisville, so right now it's: 1. San Diego 2. Louisville 3. Kansas - this could change even during the draft!!
Becki: Any college player can go in the draft, but the moment they sign up and put their name in, they lose college eligibility. The draft is for college players, so anyone who is out of school or already a pro cannot sign up. This season and last due to COVID giving you an extra year of eligibility to play in college, you can be a senior and stay in school for a 5th year and wait another season before you put your name in the draft.
Bev: Yes I was drafted in 2010 to the WPS (Washington Freedom). I was drafted 27th overall.
Becki: You can use draft picks, money, players, etc as assets to trade with. A lot of the time, trades will work in a way that you use 2 or 3 of these together. There is a trade window in which coaches/GMs work closely to look at the draft and what picks they have and what other clubs may want or need. You can also trade your picks on the day of the draft. This happens a lot when a club has a college player in mind that they know they want to draft but don't have a pick high enough to get them. One thing I think that's really important is the consideration of the player and where they can be happy but also where they can develop. This is different for everyone so this is something we have to take into consideration.
Bev: I had no idea. I had always hoped to play professionally wasn't sure I would be given the opportunity, but knew if I was selected I would do everything possible to compete and stay playing professional soccer for as long as possible. It is amazing to reflect now since retiring in 2019. As a 27th pick I was able to have a 9-year career in the league which is something I am so grateful for.
Becki: There is a huge pool of talented players coming through that we get to watch and follow through the Fall season. The insane part is trying to guess what the draft will look like based on your wants and needs for the team, and then what you think everyone else in the room is going to do. There are thousands of players; it's always fun trying to find the diamonds that maybe aren't at the huge schools.
Bev: The thought of whether or not you will get picked. And how long and hard you have worked for your dream. Also, recognizing that it doesn't make or break you. Although it is nice to feel in some sense valued, there are lots of opportunities to continue playing. As the women's game continues to grow these opportunities will continue to arise.
Becki: This season more than ever has been challenging for us, with the extra COVID year that has been added onto eligibility for the players it makes it hard for us to know who is coming out and who is taking the 5th year. We have spent a huge amount of time connecting with the coaches to try and get a handle on who
we think might enter but we really don’t find out until 5 days before the draft itself.
Becki: As mentioned above, this year's draft is so mixed with classes and players coming out. Some are choosing to come out early with the hopes of going pro, some are coming out from their senior year (4th) and some are coming out from the extra year they took last year as a 5th year. We are really looking at such a varied age and grade of players this year it's crazy! I also think when you look at the success of some of the players who have come out early or forgo college to go straight to pro like Trinity Rodman or Mal Pugh, they are not only playing and impacting games, but excelling. That can be a real inspiration and goal for other college players.
Bev: I was drafted on Twitter. There was no official draft that the league, clubs, fans, or athletes attended. I remember I was playing Yahtzee with my mom at the time as I knew the draft was that day and I did not want to be staring at my phone. My mom yelled that I was drafted and gave me a big hug it was one of the best moments of my life. It was a dream of mine since I was 5 years old. My parents sacrificed a ton in order to take me to trainings and to support me through the journey. To see my mother's joy and to experience that moment with her is something I will never forget.
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