Draft Day is an exciting, emotion-filled day for any athlete. All the hard work, the sacrifices, the training sessions with teammates – and the solo ones – all culminate in hearing one’s name called in front of everybody. Thirty-six young women experienced this whirlwind of emotions at this year’s NWSL College Draft, including the six newest members of the Houston Dash.
Four of the Dash’s selections were in attendance at the draft, while two opted to stay home with family. Regardless of where, when or how they got the news, all experienced similar emotional reactions.
“I’m so excited,” Kayla McCoy, the no. 18 overall pick, said moments after coming off the stage in Chicago. “This is an incredible opportunity.”
For Ally Prisock, Houston’s first and the no. 12 overall pick of the day, the excitement came after another emotion initially took hold. “Oh my gosh, it’s so exciting,” she said. “It was just a relief, but I’m really excited. I was super anxious.”
Nerves were also a big part of the day for CeCe Kizer, who came off the board one pick after Prisock at no. 13.
“It was a relief to hear my name,” she said. “I was just waiting the whole time. I was super nervous, but I’m just happy and thankful that it’s over and Houston picked me up!”
While Kizer and Prisock dealt with their nerves while in attendance at the draft, Betsy Brandon and Grace Cutler, Houston’s no. 16 and 22 picks, respectively, dealt with them from the comforts of home.
“I was really nervous about (the draft) so I thought it would be better for my sanity not to watch the event live,” Brandon said. “My mom and sister kept texting me with updates. My mom actually called me to tell me that I was drafted.”
“This was stressful,” Cutler said of watching it at home. “Going into the draft I was pretty hopeful and as soon as I heard my name, I was relieved.”
One of the most emotional moments of the day all around came when Jazmin Jackmon, the no. 21 overall pick, had her name called in the third round. Her father leapt to his feet, arms high above his head, and let out a loud “YEAH!!!” that filled the room. As his daughter took the stage, tears streamed down his face.
“My dad’s support means everything to me. This is what we’ve been working for and waiting for and just having faith for all four years,” she said. “He vocalized my excitement. I wasn’t as vocal as he was, but his excitement was exactly how I felt.”
Once the initial emotions subsided, each of the players quickly began turning their focus to the opportunity ahead of them.
“Houston has a great team full of great players that I look forward to being able to train with, improve with and learn from,” said McCoy. “I’m definitely excited to go down south to Texas and experience the team, the culture down there and help the Houston Dash in any way that I can.”
“I was just hoping to get into a great team and Houston is a team that I’ve heard great things about,” Prisock added. “I know a few players there, so I’m really excited to get to H-Town and do my thing.”
Cutler is already looking forward to learning from her new teammates.
“I am so impressed with so many players on the roster and the way they approach whatever challenge comes their way,” she said. “Look at how Kealia came back from her ACL injury. I just can’t wait to pick their brains at training and learn more about life in Houston and the NWSL.”
For Kizer and Brandon, their new hometown has them fired up.
“My best friend goes to the University of Houston,” Kizer said. “I’ve been there a couple of times just to visit, so I love the city. I don’t really know much about the team, but I’m really excited to get into it.”
“This is going to be an entirely new opportunity for me – This is something I’ve dreamed of for a really long time,” Brandon said. “I’m fortunate to end up in a city like Houston, that is a special city. All of the NWSL teams are in good locations, but Houston – that one is special.”
New teammates, new opportunities, and a truly special new hometown - the excitement of being selected will extend far beyond Draft Day for these young players.