The FC Dallas ECNL U-18 team currently has 20 graduating senior female athletes on its roster. Fifteen of those 20 girls have signed commitments to move on to play soccer at the collegiate level. Fourteen of those 15 have committed to Division One NCAA schools.
“Even at the youngest age groups, most of our young female athletes have the goal of one day becoming collegiate athletes, so it's extremely rewarding to finally see this day come,” said FC Dallas Youth Director of Girls Coaching Chris Ring. “I'm very proud of all our senior players."
Four of the graduating seniors have played their entire youth careers with FC Dallas. Holly Reilly, Samantha Watson, Alison Tripp and Natalie Huggins have all played in the FCD Youth Development system for eight years.
Defender Samantha Watson has committed to play at the University of Memphis, but last October she worried her dream of playing collegiately might not come true after she tore her ACL for the third time in about a four-year time span.
“FC Dallas has helped through all of my rehabs in that they have been extremely lenient with me,” Watson said. “They allowed me to stay on the team and be a part of everything while letting me train as much as I could. I am now halfway through my (latest) surgery and could not be happier with my progress.”
As a result of her multiple surgeries Watson plans to major in kinesiology at the University of Memphis, and go on to physical therapy school from there. She said she’d like to become a physical therapist so that she can help athletes like herself achieve their goals.
Forward Natalie Huggins played her high school soccer for the Ursuline Academy of Dallas. Huggins’ high school team won its 21st consecutive state title last weekend at the TAPPS Winter Soccer Championship. Huggins said training with FCD gave her the edge she needed to compete for playing time at an elite high school program.
“FC Dallas has helped me tremendously,” said Huggins. “My time playing club soccer for FC Dallas prior to high school and all throughout high school gave me the skills and game smarts that carried over and helped me to become a leader for the Ursuline team.”
She also said the FC Dallas Youth Development system has played an important role in preparing her to play collegiate soccer.
“FC Dallas fosters competitive players, which I think is crucial at the collegiate level,” said Huggins. “FC Dallas has given me the opportunity to play against high caliber players, the likes of which I will be playing against in college.”
Huggins has committed to Baylor University, where she plans to be a pre-med major before moving on to graduate school.
For Director of Girls Coaching Chris Ring, the evolution of the youth program at FC Dallas over the last 13 years still amazes him. From thinking he might not have enough players to form one girls’ team in the beginning, to helping 15 female athletes earn college scholarships this year, the program certainly has grown over the years.
“For the girls' side to get to where it is today has been a total team effort,” Ring said. “We have a quality coaching staff, dedicated players and families, and ultimately the support of a great club like FC Dallas.”