The new year is already off to a busy start for 2019 NWSL Draft pick Kayla McCoy. After being chosen by the Dash as the 18th overall selection at this year’s draft, the forward recently joined the Jamaican Women’s National Team for their first training camp of the year.
Though a native of Lincolnwood, Illinois with experience with the U.S. National Team at various youth levels, McCoy is eligible to play for Jamaica through her grandparents and could not let an opportunity such as this pass her by.
"This was my first callup to the senior team [and] I was extremely excited when I heard that I had the opportunity to play with the Jamaican team,” McCoy said. “My family was extremely proud and excited for me as well, and it presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up!”
This is a historic moment for the Reggae Girlz, as the country became the first Caribbean nation to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup during last year’s Concacaf Women’s Championship. Head coach Hue Menzies brought in 12 new players – including McCoy – to this camp so he has a chance to see all of his options before submitting his squad for the World Cup.
"For Jamaica, this team qualifying for the World Cup goes far beyond the soccer field. It’s a big step on the gobal stage for Jamaica as a country and for the Caribbean as a whole,” McCoy said. “You walk down the streets with a Reggae Girlz shirt on and strangers approach you and thank you for representing your country. The whole country is behind this team and it’s an incredible feeling to be a part of it.”
McCoy noted that there was a heightened sense of competitiveness around camp, which she hopes to use to inspire others to grow the game.
“There was an attitude of excitement and anticipation at the camp as everyone knows what’s at stake. It was a competitive environment, but everyone there knew that we were all working towards a common goal. I have realized that not only do I want this Jamaican team to go as far as possible in this World Cup and have success there, I also look forward to helping solidify the presence of high-level women’s soccer in Jamaica and hopefully even the opportunity to inspire some younger girls in the process.”
The experience with the national team also afforded the forward the opportunity to experience a new level of soccer and to think about the upcoming season with her new club.
“Participating with the Jamaican Women’s National Team has given me the opportunity [to experience] high-level and world-class training as well as [the chance] to play with and against some world-class players. There are players that are older than me, with more experience than me that I can learn from, as well as skilled players that are younger than me who I can learn from as well.
“I look forward to the upcoming season with the Dash both for the competitive environment that it will provide as well as the ability to learn from more experienced players. Playing with the Jamaican Women’s National Team has given me a taste of that environment and I look forward to continuing that in Houston. I’ve been doing everything that I can to come into preseason in the best possible shape and ready to compete.”
Whether looking forward to a monumental first World Cup with Jamaica, or preparing for the upcoming season with the Dash, McCoy has an exciting year ahead of her and is ready for whatever comes next.