When the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) was formed in 2001, it made playing professional soccer a realistic dream for young girls. The league folded in 2003 and it was six long years before another league would take the stage.
So when Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) kicked off on March 29, 2009, the dream was alive once again.
Atlanta Beat midfielder Kylie Wright was a rising junior when the league kicked off. Her childhood dream of playing professional soccer could now become a reality. On draft day, by the end of Round 1, her dream had finally come true.
What was your reaction when you found out that there was going to be a professional league again?
I was super thrilled. It had always been a dream of mine, so just knowing that it was back again just really, really excited me. It was definitely something I knew I wanted to do so it was a good thing!
Did you always want to be a professional soccer player? If not, what did you want to do when you were younger?
Yeah that was always in the back of my mind when I was little. I always wanted to play professionally, I wanted to be like Mia Hamm. But I also wanted to teach when I was little. So being a teacher has always been there too.
What was draft day like for you?
My family, which includes both of my parents, my brother, my aunt and uncle and my grandparents, they all came over and we had gotten bagels and coffee. We were sitting around the TV because they had hooked up the computer to the TV so we could watch it on the big screen. So we were all just waiting and watching.
It was really, really exciting. I was really glad that I got to share it with my family. I was really, really thrilled that one of my dreams were coming true. It was an awesome day.
With there only being 24 girls drafted, was it more special for you to be drafted this year?
Yes and no. I would have been happy being drafted any other year as well but there having been only 24 players drafted that was special.
When did it sink in for you that you were now a professional athlete?
Honestly, the moment I got drafted. I was just like “Oh my goodness, I cannot believe this is happening. This is just so great. So just as soon as I saw my name on the screen, I was just like ‘Wow, this is it.’
What has the transition been like from college to the pros?
I feel like my college team definitely prepared me a lot for this level. But it’s a lot quicker—the play’s been a lot quicker. I would just say the play is a lot faster than college. And strength wise—a lot of the girls are a lot stronger. So it’s been a transition, but a good one.
Atlanta’s season has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride over the course of the first four games. What do you hope to see the rest of the season?
Obviously we want to win, but we also want to play well. We’re learning from every game, and taking the positives and negatives just trying to build a good team. Winning and playing well is what we want for the rest of the season.
Getting to Know Kylie Wright:
If you could play any sport other than soccer, what would it be? Volleyball
Did you watching the WUSA and if so, who was your favorite team? I did watch it (pauses to think). My favorite team was probably…gosh I’m trying to think of the teams. Washington. Was there a Freedom team back then? Yeah that’s who it was.
[Note: The 8 original WUSA clubs were the Atlanta Beat, Boston Breakers, Carolina Courage, New York Power, Philadelphia Charge, San Diego Spirit, San Jose (Bay Area) Cyber Rays, and Washington Freedom]
What teammate are you happiest to not have to play against (except in practice)? Lori Chalupny.
What has been your biggest preseason challenge? I would say just me getting adjusted. That was big for me. It was a huge move for me to come out from California and I haven’t been away from California for more than a month. So just getting used to my surroundings and the coaching and the players.
Do you have a secret talent and if so, what is it? (chuckles) A secret talent. I don’t know if this is a secret talent but I’m really, really good at doing hair. Braiding and up-dos and all that good stuff.
Describe yourself in three words ON and OFF the field: Happy, determined and (pauses) I’d probably consider myself a free soul.
What is your favorite soccer memory? My best friend Lauren Barnes and I were playing with the U23 national team and we were playing against a boys team in Ohio. Lauren Barnes is absolutely amazing and one of the boys had crossed it into the box and she just totally headed it right into the goal.
I just remember we looked at each other and we were just cracking up. Obviously it wasn’t the greatest time but I knew that she was freaking out. We just both started laughing and kind of went on with things. We ended up winning but it was just a memory I have with her.
Do you have any superstitions and if so what are they? I do not.
Photo courtsey of the Atlanta Beat