Defender Erin Simon’s path to professional soccer was not your typical. Simon, a New Jersey native, was not part of an NWSL Draft. Instead, after a successful four years at Syracuse University, she headed to open tryouts in 2016.
“Actually, I tried out at Orlando [Pride] first and that was my first ever tryout. I was so nervous,” Simon admitted to HoustonDashSoccer.com. “I was like, ‘I’m just going to give it my best,’ and I enjoyed the entire experience.”
She impressed the coaching staff at Orlando and was invited to preseason. The defender set her mind on Orlando, but two months later, when Sky Blue FC’s tryouts rolled around, the New Jersey native in her just had to take her shot.
Simon said, “I’m a Jersey girl. I’ve got go to my home state tryout. I still said, ‘I’m going to Orlando, but you know what, I’m going to Sky Blue [tryouts].’”
Once again, the defender impressed the coaches on hand, this time at Sky Blue. She was invited to her home team’s preseason two days later. Now, Simon had a decision to make. She could either start her career down south in Florida with the Orlando Pride or stay close to home and continue to represent her home state of New Jersey with Sky Blue FC. In the end, the most important thing to Simon was representing her home.
The defender was named to the preseason roster and then later was named to the full team roster. As a rookie, Simon made 18 starts in 19 appearances for Sky Blue FC. She also tallied two assists in her rookie campaign. In 2017, she made seven starts in seven appearances before a left foot fracture put her on the sidelines.
“Just my whole entire career at Sky Blue, I loved every bit of it,” she said. “One of the biggest highlights is playing next to my role model growing up, another Jersey girl, Christie Pierce.”
U.S. Women’s National Team legend Christie Rampone – née Pierce – shared the field with Simon for most of Simon’s time at Sky Blue FC. Rampone was left center back while Simon was her fullback. Here the young defender was, a Jersey girl who attended open tryouts, playing alongside one of her hometown heroes she grew up with.
“To learn from an absolute legend of the game and absorb information she had to give to me at her time at Sky Blue was the most impactful thing I had there,” Simon recalled.
Unsure of her next career move, Simon was surprised when she was approached by West Ham United head coach Matt Beard. Beard had been the head coach of the NWSL’s Boston Breakers while Erin was with Sky Blue. Going overseas for professional soccer was never part of Simon’s original plan, but when the opportunity presented itself, she didn’t hesitate.
“I learned so much from being over there. I developed as a player in different areas of the game...mainly tactically,” Simon told HoustonDashSoccer.com.
The defender joined the West Ham squad just in time for its first-ever season in the FA Women’s Super League, England’s top division. She quickly made an impact in 25 appearances for the club, helping the Irons all the way to the FA Cup Final.
Beyond blessed to be a part of this family and to have played in the FA Cup Final at the home of football. Wouldn’t have wanted to graft with anyone else by my side than this group. Thank you to my family and friends who flew out to share this incredible experience with me. Huge shout out to the fans who have supported us all season and created an incredible atmosphere for us at the final! @westhamwomen #facupfinal #wembley #coyi⚒ #james1:17
Now, Simon finds her way back to her home country as she prepares for season with the Houston Dash. Her journey has led her back to the league where her career started. The defender would have never imagined where her career would take her after attending tryouts in 2016.
“I’m so excited to be back in the NWSL,” Simon said.
Simon and the rest of the Houston Dash report to preseason in early March. This weekend, the Houston Dash are holding open tryouts on Saturday, February 8. Clarkson hopes to find more players like Simon who can make an impact when given the opportunity. More information on tryouts can be found here.