By Larissa Campos
After a weekend of competitive and mentally taxing tryouts in Portland, Ore., senior soccer player Carlie Davis was relieved to finally be landing in Dallas on the way back to her home at Baylor University.
As the plane taxied, Davis noticed a missed call from an unknown number on her phone and held the phone to her ear as the voicemail played.
On the other end of the phone was Cindy Parlow, former national-team player and head coach of Portland Thorns FC.
She was inviting Davis to join the team on March 11 for their first preseason practices.
“It took a while for our conversation to sink in, “ Davis said. “I guess it took me a while to actually let myself believe that it was actually happening. That I was actually getting a chance to play professionally.”
Portland Thorns FC is part of the newly formed National Women’s Soccer League.
The league has eight teams throughout the United States and is expected to open up play sometime this spring.
After the folding of Women’s Professional Soccer in 2012, the NWSL was created in its place in attempt to establish a long-lasting league.
The NWSL looks to expand to at least 10 teams across the nation in the future.
To prepare for preseason in March, Davis has decided to put her “classes on hold” to continue preparing for the physical demands playing at a professional level requires. The regular season will begin in April.
After a weekend on the field with high-caliber players, Davis realized she would be pushed to her limits physically and mentally playing at a professional level. She decided that she needed to dedicate herself entirely to this opportunity.
The tryout took place last Saturday and Sunday at JELD-WEN Field, home of MLS team the Portland Timbers. More than 80 women’s soccer players showed up to battle it out on the field in attempt to catch Parlow’s eye. The first day was spent playing a series of eight-on-eight games. The second day the players were able to showcase their skills in multiple games of 11-a-side.
“I was not only surprised by the numbers that we had at the first Thorns FC tryouts, but also by the quality,” Parlow said. “There were some quality players. So many, in fact, that it will be difficult for me to choose which ones to bring into our preseason training camp.”
Davis played left back for the entirety of the tryout and did enough to gain an invitation to the club’s preseason training camp starting on March 11.
While the invitation does not ensure a spot on the final roster, Davis said she was more than happy with having the chance to play in the presence of top women’s soccer players such as United States National Team forward Alex Morgan, and also push herself outside her comfort zone.
“I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t scared out of my mind,” Davis said. “This experience is challenging me like nothing I’ve ever experienced but it’s a chance for me to glorify God and keep playing soccer so I’ll take it.”
Davis was a major factor in Baylor soccer’s historical season this past fall.
Her speed and hard-nosed tackling led the team to a 19-1-5 record, the best in program history. Davis started all 25 games for the Bears.
The team is sad to say goodbye to Davis in such a hurry but is proud to have a member of their family representing them at a professional level.
“Carlie is the type of player you dread defending you in practice,” freshman forward Bri Campos said. “She was a key part of our success last season and it’s exciting for me as a younger player to see her succeed at the next level.”