On Jan. 15, FC Kansas City of the National Women’s Soccer League selected former North Carolina forward Alexa Newfield with the No. 28 pick in the 2016 NWSL Draft.
Before she came to UNC in 2013, Newfield played at Georgia, where she set numerous school records.
Over the next three years, the forward had four major knee surgeries, the last of which caused her to miss the entire 2014 season. But in the sixth and final year of her college career, the redshirt senior led the Tar Heels in both goals (11) and points (25).
Assistant Sports Editor Jeremy Vernon spoke with Newfield about her college career, her draft day experience and her expectations for the pros.
The Daily Tar Heel: What was going through your mind when you heard that you were drafted by FC Kansas City?
Alexa Newfield: I was very relieved and very excited. Kansas City’s a great club to go to. They’ve won the past two years back-to-back, so it’s obviously a good team. And they drafted well earlier in the draft so I was very excited to be there with a teammate and go in there with someone like Katie (Bowen) who I had three years with.
DTH: Given all the injuries in your college career, how much more did it mean to you to get drafted?
AN: It was very relieving, kind of making it all worth it, I guess. The work and the suffering and all the ups and downs kind of, finally, paid off and took me to the next step, which was always the goal.
DTH: You mentioned that Katie Bowen was drafted by FC Kansas City as well. Have you been able to talk to her since draft day?
AN: Right after it happened we FaceTimed each other because she’s in New Zealand right now training with their camp. And I think it was like 7 a.m. there or something, but we were like, ‘Hey teammate! Looks like we’re keeping it going for a few more years.’ It’s very exciting.
DTH: As you mentioned, FC Kansas City has had some success over the past few years. They have four players who were on the 2015 World Cup Champion U.S. National Team. How does having those high-level players already on the team benefit you?
AN: It will be a challenge, but they’ll make us better. You know, you can’t not learn from four players who have won the World Cup and who have won the pro league the past two years. So I think it will be a cool experience to get better learning from them and practicing with them and just — I’m used to how Carolina does soccer things but now it will be a whole new type of game playing and it’s just exciting to see what else there is to offer.
DTH: You’re coming in older than the other draft picks and some of the players that have already been on the team. Do you look at that as an advantage or as a disadvantage?
AN: I think in the end we all put our shorts on the same way, we’ve all been playing the game for 20 years whether it’s college or pro or anything ... I think maybe going in as a rookie at 24 is a little advantage just from more maturity and maybe a few less nerves just because I’ve been around the block more, but obviously there’s other people my age who have been in the league for two years now and they’re used to that game. In the end it’s just soccer. You just play how you know how to play and I think the age kind of gets swirled in and lost.