Keelin Winters was drafted by the Boston Breakers as the sixth overall pick in the January draft. She was one of just 24 players to be selected in the draft this season.
Winters is one of six children. Her father played nine years of professional basketball and went on to coach in both the NBA and WNBA. All of her siblings played basketball growing up and she was no exception.
When it came time to focus on one sport, she chose soccer.
Keep reading to find out what her reaction was to being drafted by the Breakers, her choice of soccer over basketball and whether her dad has imparted any wisdom about becoming a professional athlete.
What was your reaction to being drafted by the Breakers?
Obviously I was really excited being drafted and playing professional soccer for a living has always been a dream of mine. My initial reaction was to call my family, I walked outside and called my parents and they were both really stoked about it. I was just really excited.
With such a small group being drafted and WPS being a little smaller too, did it make it more special to be drafted in such a small group?
Yeah I think it did, because like you said it was a small draft–there were only 24 players that were drafted. I think there were a lot of really, really great prospects coming out of college that had entered the draft. I think it made it just a little bit more intense, just because I knew there were so many great players coming out of college who wanted to be drafted and then knowing that there was only a very few select that were actually going to be drafted did make it a little more special.
You played basketball as well as soccer growing up, but you were the only one in your family to choose soccer. Was it easier or harder growing up as the only one [who chose soccer instead]?
I don’t think it really made it easier or harder to be honest. It was never an issue choosing between soccer and basketball in my family. My whole played basketball but growing up my dad had always told me that if I wanted to quit playing sports in general then he’d be totally okay with it. So it was never really an issue. I think that being the only one that plays soccer in my family made me want to be better, want to be good at soccer because I knew that the rest of my family were such great athletes.
Your dad played professionally in the NBA – has he passed on any words of wisdom about life in the professional ranks?
He actually doesn’t really talk about when he played professionally all that often. But one thing he does say over and over again was just that you really just have to love playing a professional sport because it is your job. And you’re expected to put in the time and the effort to win games for your team. Besides that he hasn’t really given me any advice as far as the professional aspects go.
Is it going to be easier or harder switching coasts completely to go play with Boston?
Growing up I bounced around quite a bit because of my dad’s job. I lived in five different places so I’m kind of used to moving around. Growing up in my teenage years and now I’ve spent the majority of my time on the West Coast, so I think that it is going to be different. But everybody that I’ve talked to about Boston has told me how great of a city it is and how much I’m going to love it. So I’m pretty excited to explore a new city and see what the East Coast is like.
It’s been a couple of weeks now – has it sunk in yet that you’re now a professional athlete?
A little bit. I’m actually back up at Portland right now – I’m visiting for two weeks – so all my friends here are still going to classes and I just get to hang out and train. (laughs) I don’t know, so it’s nice because all my friends and all my old teammates who are still playing still have to worry about classes and practice and training and all that and I just get to focus on training. So it’s definitely nice, I think becoming a professional athlete has begun to sink in a little bit, but not until I got back up here to Portland.
It’s been three months since that draft in January. Winters has since made the Breakers opening day roster and earned her first start in Boston’s season opening 4-1 victory over the Atlanta Beat. She added what would be the game winning tally in the match.
Watch Winters and her Breakers teammates this Sunday as they take on the Western New York Flash at Harvard Stadium at 6pm. The match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel.
Fans can also follow all the action live on womensprosoccer.com’s Game Tracker or on Twitter by following @BostonBreakers.
Photo Courtsey of Perry McIntyre | ISI Photos