With the second pick in the 2011 Women's Professional Soccer draft, and fifth overall, the Philadelphia Independence selected Notre Dame midfielder/defender Lauren Fowlkes.
She came into the draft fresh off of a national championship with the Fighting Irish, the program’s third title and second in the last ten years.
Life between that national championship victory on December 5 and the draft on January 14 was hectic for Fowlkes to say the least.
“It was pretty busy,” Fowlkes said. “I mean you’re trying to rest and recover but then you’re thinking I have to get ready for a postseason but I also had two camps with the U-23s both the week after NCAAs and the week of the draft. So that made it all really, really busy but it was nice to spend some time with my family and friends.”
The first of two U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team camps ran in mid-December, beginning barely a week after the national championship game and ending on December 20. Fowlkes was back in camp three weeks later—a camp that actually would run right through the WPS draft—from January 9-16.
The media build-up to the draft was full of predictions and speculation upon who was going where, and on what trades were going to be made leading up to the draft or on draft day itself. While Fowlkes wasn’t completely immune to the guessing games and predictions, she did her best not to focus on any of it.
“I mean probably here and there you hear things but no I didn’t really pay much attention to it because anything can happen when it comes down to draft day,” the 22-year old defender explained.
As a result of the league being so much smaller this year as opposed to last year (six teams as opposed to nine in the 2010 WPS draft) the draft was just four rounds—a total of 24 picks. The chances of being selected this year were small and made being drafted special.
“I don’t know how it would have been in years past because I wasn’t in that same experience but I know that there are a lot of good players and a lot of people that I’ve played with in the past that weren’t drafted so yeah I definitely think it was special to be able to [be drafted],” Fowlkes said.
The Lee’s Summit, Missouri native couldn’t have been happier when her name was called.
“I was just extremely excited and just also ready to get working, get going and get ready for preseason,” she said, looking back.
The Philadelphia Independence opened up their preseason training camp on March 1, nearly a month and a half after she had heard her name called. The opening day roster was named on April 1 and Fowlkes’ name was on it. As for her first season as a professional athlete?
“I think you’re looking forward to going into a new challenge as a pro but then also when something you dream about doing ever since you were little is playing professional soccer it’s exciting to finally reach that goal,” Fowlkes said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
She was quick to add her expectations for her rookie season—for both her team and herself.
“I know I expect our team to do well, we’ve been working really hard and we’ve got a great group of players. I’m hoping and expecting that we do well and also that I improve as a player and have a good time on the field," Fowlkes said.
Fowlkes has yet to see WPS action this season, having been named to only one game-day roster—a Week 2 home match against magicJack which was later postponed due to inclement weather. According to the WPS Roster Report for Week 6, she was listed as Unavailable due to an undisclosed injury.
Photo Courtesy of www.thesportingway.com.