Reporters got a chance to catch up with Christine Nairn, Reign FC’s first-round pick (No. 7 overall) in Friday’s NWSL college draft.
Nairn scored 17 goals and had 12 assists as a senior at Penn State, helping lead the Nittany Lions to the national championship game. She has also been a member of the U.S. under-20 women’s national team, having trained occasionally with the senior team.
Here is a transcript of the conference call:
* * *
(What does it mean to be drafted by Seattle, a city known for its soccer passion?) “I’m very excited to go to Seattle. I’m a huge MLS fan, so I’ve watched the Seattle Sounders and what they’ve done with that program, and I cannot be more excited and more thrilled to be going to such a soccer-fanatic city. I just got off the phone with my dad; I think he’s actually more excited than me that I’m going to such a great soccer community, and (that I get) to represent the Reign as best as I can for as long as I can. I can’t say I’d rather go to a different place because I’m just thrilled for the opportunity ahead and what I can do there.”
(What will it be like to play for former Arsenal Ladies coach Laura Harvey?) “As you know, Erica Walsh is my coach, and she’s got nothing but good things to say about (Harvey) and what she’s done for the Arsenal program. … I’ve done my research and everybody said she’s one of a kind. I’m excited to be coached by her and learn a lot of things from maybe a European aspect. I can always improve. Like I said, I couldn’t be happier to be drafted to Seattle and represent that club with honor and hard work, and hopefully get a championship in our first year.”
(What does this mean for players like you on the fringe of the USWNT senior team?) “I think it exposes us to the new (USWNT) coach. I know he’s kind of going in with an open mind, just scouting a bunch of players and seeing what American soccer is and what youth is coming through and representing us at the new professional league teams. I’m so excited to not only play for Seattle but to see a lot of my fellow (under-20) national team players, Tiff McCarty, Kristie Mewis, all of them, Zakiya Bywaters. I’m just excited for all of us to be exposed to that new national team program and coaching staff and hopefully you’ll see at least one of our names in the next upcoming tournament.”
(What does it mean to have an opportunity to go pro in this new league?) “It’s a great opportunity, like I said before, to represent Seattle and where I’ve come from — Penn State, and all the teams I played for before. To represent them on a professional stage is a dream come true. I’m excited to get to work. I’ve been working out at Penn State, keeping in shape and I’m excited to represent them and just go from there. I’m just excited. It’s a new adventure as my coach told me. You go in with an open mind, and to be considered a professional athlete in any sport, I remember having dreams of that. I’m lucky enough to live that dream every day now come March. I can’t express how excited I am to get out there and get started and get to work.”
(How would you describe yourself as a player?) “Well, I played in college as an attacking mid. Dominant left-footed. I can shoot, I can pass, but I think what’s most important to me is making the players around me better and to play better as a team. One of my goals is to make the players around me better, because in turn they make me better. That’s what I’ve tried to do at Penn State and it got us to the national championship this year. I’m excited to continue to work hard and get more and more fit each day while I’m training for Seattle and go for that championship. From college to professional, I think that transition can be a little tricky, but I’m on board with it. I’m so excited to be a part of this program and represent such a soccer-crazy town. I can’t wait to see how our fans react to this new league.”
(Had you had any prior interaction with Reign FC before today?) “I have not, actually. I’m an East Coaster. I think I’ve been to Seattle maybe once for a national team camp, so I’m going to be new to the area. I know absolutely nothing, but I’m excited to go in with a clean slate and work with the coaching staff. I’ve only heard good things.”
(How do you think you’ll mesh with Megan Rapinoe, Amy Rodriguez and Teresa Noyola?) “I’ve played a little bit with the senior team here and there since I’ve been in school, so a couple of years in and out with the national team. And I grew up playing with Teresa since we were 14 years old, so I think I mesh very well with our several players, who are possession oriented — especially Teresa and Pinoe. I think I fit in perfectly with that team. I think the big thing is we’re attacking minded and I think we’ll be very exciting to watch. Hopefully we’re going to score a lot of goals and really put some fans in the seats. So I think this is a great fit for me. Hopefully what I bring to the table will be good enough to win us a championship in that first year.”
(Did you get the sense that college players wanted to play in Northwest?) “I can’t really speak for a lot of the college players that were getting drafted, but I know a little bit … from my time with (national team), and I’ve only heard good things from that area of the country — how crazy and how awesome the fans are there, and how loud. I know when I was at Penn State, we played at Portland, and I have never seen fans like that. I think those kinds of people will only increase the interest for women’s professional soccer, and I cannot be more excited to represent a club or team that invests and really makes the fans that 12th man on the field. I think it’s a destination where a lot of national team players wanted to be, and that says a lot. You really admire what they say and just go off what they’ve been through with the W-League team and everything like that. I’ve only heard good things and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
(It’s easy to tell the excitement in your voice. Can you describe what it mean to you to be a professional women’s soccer player?) “My voice is quivering, as you can tell probably from this call. I’ve grown up in soccer with my two brothers, and everybody laughed at me (when I said), ‘Oh, I want to be a professional women’s soccer player.’ At that time it wasn’t really in the works. The WUSA was there for a little bit, then not, so a bunch of us girls in the draft, Tiff McCarty, who I grew up with on the same club team, we always said that we wanted to be a part of a professional women’s soccer league. Today is the day that our dreams come true. I can’t be more thrilled to represent where I’ve come from, the East Coast, Maryland, Penn State, they’ve given me this opportunity to become my dream, which is a professional athlete. So I guess I’m just going to grab this by the horns and ride it as long as I can, because I can say it’s a dream come true. I think if you ask all of the girls drafted today and everything like that, they’re just as excited to start the NWSL as I am.”