Just a few years in the past, in an airport in Florida, a person got here as much as Santa Clarita Blue Heat President Carlos Marroquin and advised the proprietor he ought to check out his niece Alyssa Thompson.
Marroquin, because the founding father of the well-known pro-am girls’s soccer workforce, fielded loads of these requests. He nonetheless requested how previous Thompson was.
“Fourteen,” Thompson’s uncle responded.
“Ah, she’s too young,” Marroquin remembered saying.
Two months later, although, Thompson got here out for a scrimmage towards a workforce from Orange County.
“She killed everybody,” Marroquin mentioned.
Such has been the lifetime of Alyssa Thompson, the 18-year-old soccer prodigy from Harvard-Westlake. When she was 7, she was dusting youngsters. When she was in sixth grade, she was dusting excessive schoolers. When she was in eighth grade, she was dusting faculty youngsters. On and on, and Thompson’s legend has been constructed, profitable the Gatorade High School participant of the yr in 2021 after a 48-goal season and subbing in for Megan Rapinoe at 17 to make her USWNT debut in September.
And as a senior in highschool, she sat on a white sofa Thursday for an NWSL draft occasion inside Nike’s campus in Playa Vista, taking deep breaths earlier than applaudingas Angel City FC chosen her with the primary total decide. It was an inevitability — Angel City tossing in picks and money and rainbows in orchestrating a three-team deal for the No. 1 decide to pick Thompson — but in addition unprecedented, a youngster decommitting from Stanford to show professional.
“For her now to be the first high school athlete selected No. 1 overall — when you really think about her whole career and trajectory — is not actually that surprising,” Harvard-Westlake women’ soccer coach Richard Simms mentioned. “She’s always been years ahead of everybody else … it’s just who she is.”
She was taking part in up as soon as once more Thursday, sitting with pink fingernails and white Nikes and a quickly beating coronary heart ready usually reserved for 21-and-22-year-old faculty athletes. Thompson got here straight from class to the draft occasion, Nike’s NIL signee beaming by means of a reside mid-draft interview and name with Angel City coach Freya Coombe.
“I’m ready for everything,” she advised Coombe.
Then she collapsed her head on the couch for a second, slumping in sheer exhaustion and reduction as a bunch of household and associates erupted in cheers round her.
Everything is, actually, rather a lot. Everything, for Thompson, is just not solely changing into the face of a second-year Angel City franchise — but in addition a trailblazer.
For a very long time, UCLA girls’s soccer coach Margueritte Aozasa mentioned, girls haven’t had the identical alternative as younger males within the United States to bypass the collegiate recreation for the professionals. Young girls in soccer, Aozasa added, have needed to depend on their schooling, as a result of even the highest-paid gamers within the NWSL aren’t making “life-changing amounts of money.”
“I do think it’s indicative of the growth of women’s soccer in this country,” Aozasa, who recruited Thompson as an assistant at Stanford, mentioned of the 18-year-old’s choice.
It was an agonizing choice to decommit, her household mentioned. Particularly as a result of her father, Mario, is an elementary faculty principal and values schooling.
“The dad always told us since we met,” Thompson’s agent Alan Naigeon mentioned, “‘We’ll need something crazy to go [away from] Stanford.”
They received it, finally, and it turned too good to cross up. Thompson signed a three-year totally assured cope with Angel City, in line with her brokers: an opportunity for her to remain in L.A., nonetheless reside at house, and end out her senior yr whereas she goes by means of preseason in hopes of a spot on this summer time’s girls’s World Cup workforce.
And the choice to show professional wouldn’t imply leaving faculty behind perpetually, Thompson emphasised — she’ll nonetheless be working towards her diploma.
“I hope little girls look up to me and think that, ‘Oh, I really want to keep continuing my soccer career … but also not giving up that education portion,’” Thompson mentioned.
Thompson will carry blazing track-star velocity —, she recorded the second-fastest 100-meter time in California final yr — to an Angel City workforce on the lookout for a powerful winger, in line with President Julie Uhrman.
“You’re a witness right now,” Marroquin mentioned, “to see the next-biggest star in the world.”