Sophia Smith, NWSL’s No. 1 overall draft pick, embraces patience ahead of rookie season for Portland Thorns

Sophia Smith, Portland Thorns rookie forward and the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2020 National Women’s Soccer League College Draft out of Stanford University, participated in a Nike panel discussing the have an effect on coaches have on players and ways everyone can help supply more play and sport opportunities for girls.

Nike recently launched the Made to Play Coaching Girls Guide, which shines a light on barriers that are particular to girls in sport and offers insights on how coaches can help remove them or help girls overcome them. The guide is focused on five pillars to create a more friendly surroundings for girls growing up playing team sports:

Make certain the playing space and team culture work for girls.Create connections with girls.Let girls compete.Focus on progress, not the last outcome.Encourage girls to be courageous, not perfect.

The 2020 Fall Series is currently underway as all nine clubs are playing through Oct. 17 for the Community Shield, a new grant-based award that will be presented to the top club based on points with the intention to give a boost to native businesses and programs. The West Coast teams have yet to compete in the competition because of bad air quality conditions in light of the present wildfires affecting the home markets in Portland and Seattle. 

Following Wednesday’s panel, the prized rookie sat down with CBS Sports for a fast chat on her patiently waiting to make her pro debut, Portland’s upcoming Fall Series opener and a few personal goals for the future. The following conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and go with the flow. 

On being drafted back in January and adjusting to a wild and unforeseeable year

Sophia Smith: Wild is a great word to describe this year. I’ve made due with what I have with the training that we were in a position to receive in and the games that were in a position to receive in. Despite what’s happening, I think I’ve grown a lot as a player and as a person. I already knew that patience was once very important, but I think I’ve learned it to an entire new extent that things don’t at all times work out the way you deliberate. You must be patient, but it’s a must to retain that mindset of being in a position to go whenever the time does come. I think that’s been enormous in this year so far. 

Soccer-wise I’ve grown a lot. I used to be out for an injury for awhile and missed the games in the bubble, but I used to be still there with my team learning and observing just from a different perspective than in truth physically playing in the game. So I’ve learned a lot this year. It obviously wasn’t what I used to be planning on having left college to play professionally. But this year has been loopy for everyone and I’m just glad that we found a way to receive something in.

On building a bond with Portland Thorns and working with coach Mark Parsons

Smith: I think the bubble was once so important for our team because it is a new team and there’s new players — me being one of them. I think just having that time together allowed us to roughly bond even out of doors of the field. 

We got to in point of fact realize each and every other, and understand how each and every other works off and on the field. Building those connections is just enormous going into these games because obviously there’s not a lot time to prepare. It isn’t a steady preseason, you’re limited with time leading up to each and every game. So, I think building the relationship in Utah in the bubble is gonna be so important going into these games. I did not play, but with the ability to observe the style of play that the Thorns like to play and style of coaching that Mark does is just important. It’s a must to be prepared for when these games happen and when I am getting time on the field.

On navigating the have an effect on of wildfires and adjusting to fixed restart of training because of the pandemic 

Smith: The season was once impacted in a positive and negative way, it’s roughly on and off. I think it’s tough to find the motivation each and every unmarried day when you just do not know when your next game will be or even though your practice the following day is outside in your stadium or whether it’s a must to move to a small indoor facility to receive the work in. So, it’s been unpredictable, but I think in a way that teaches you patience. It teaches you how to be bendy, how to go through adversity and still take advantage of each and every possibility that you get.

With the fires happening, it’s been even more loopy. Some of our trainings have gotten moved indoors and then it’s tough to think how we might be training within leading up to a game out of doors. You realize, how does that transition impact players, impact our health? All of that comes into question. But I think at the end of the day, my team and I have just put our game faces on on a regular basis and take advantage of whatever training it is that we’ve got — and in the long run prepare as whether we are going to have a game on the scheduled day that we’re supposed to play without reference to the entire things out of doors that we will’t in point of fact keep an eye on.

On her personal goals and the importance of NWSL’s Black Players Coalition

Smith: Step one was once to build that coalition. I think it’s enormous because there don’t seem to be numerous Black players in the NWSL and I think finding and building a platform where we all have an equal voice and our voice in point of fact mattered was once step one. 

I think it’s already done such a lot — such a lot of good things in the league. It would be awesome to see more Black players, more people of color in the NWSL and even young players getting into the game of soccer and realizing that there’s a place for them. That there is people who find themselves just like them who have made it to high levels. It is a goal of mine, and I just hope that it continues to grow, and that this conversation continues to happen until optimistically at some point it doesn’t want to happen, and things are equal, and the world is an equal playing field. 

I think with all this craziness going on, that’s for me the biggest goal that can come out of 2020. That the message is loud and lucid and it’s still happening — and when this year ends it still needs to happen next year. So, I think the coalition is enormous. I’m so grateful that we all came together, and we all roughly created that and I am hoping it just assists in keeping going spreading the message.

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