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Trinity Rodman, daughter of NBA ‘Bad Boy’ Dennis Rodman, drafted by NWSL’s Washington Spirit

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 1/14/2021 Steven Goff
a man holding a football ball: Trinity Rodman starred for U.S. youth national teams before enrolling at Washington State last year. (Brad Smith/U.S. Soccer Federation) Trinity Rodman starred for U.S. youth national teams before enrolling at Washington State last year. (Brad Smith/U.S. Soccer Federation)

The Washington Spirit’s selection of Trinity Rodman with the second pick in the National Women’s Soccer League draft Wednesday was notable for two major reasons.

She turned pro before playing a minute of college soccer, a rarity in the women’s game.

And she is the 19-year-old daughter of Hall of Fame basketball player Dennis Rodman.

“He was an amazing athlete, and I got those genes from him, but I am excited to be Trinity Rodman and not just Dennis Rodman’s daughter,” she said. “I am excited to pave my own path and get better throughout this journey.”

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The Spirit selected Rodman after expansion Racing Louisville used the first pick on North Carolina senior defender Emily Fox, a graduate of Stone Bridge High in Ashburn, Va., who came through the FC Virginia club program.

Rodman, a 5-foot-10 forward, starred for the U.S. under-20 national team. But after her freshman season at Washington State this past fall was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, she decided to enter the draft.

She explored European opportunities as well but plans to sign with the Spirit and report to training camp next month.

Her leap to the pros comes almost four years after Mallory Pugh, a member of the 2019 U.S. World Cup squad, took a similar path by enrolling at UCLA without playing, then joining the Spirit at age 19. Since then, however, Pugh has been traded twice and hasn’t met expectations.

Most U.S. women’s players compete at the college level for four years before pursuing a pro career in the NWSL or in Europe. Those days are beginning to change as pro opportunities in the United States and abroad improve.

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“As covid hit, I felt kind of stuck in a way,” said Rodman, who had planned to wear No. 91, her father’s number with the Chicago Bulls, at Washington State. “I know professional is a higher level, and I know I am at a point right now where I could be at that level to get even better than I would be in college. I was like: ‘Let’s just go! I want to get better. Let’s go!’ ”

Rodman is from Newport Beach, Calif. She did not have much of a relationship with her father. Her mother, Michelle, was Dennis’s third wife. Trinity’s brother, DJ, is a sophomore basketball player at Washington State.

Trinity said she played many sports growing up, but soccer was her favorite.

“Soccer, to me, felt like home,” she said. “I felt so comfortable playing. … Soccer has always been embedded in my brain, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I was just like: ‘I want to go out and play soccer. I want to learn more. I want to play with my feet.’ I fell in love with the game.”

Rodman scored nine goals in seven matches for the under-20 national team at the Concacaf tournament last February and March in the Dominican Republic. She had four against Honduras, two in the semifinals against the host team and two in the 4-1 championship victory over Mexico.

Rodman is the latest player from the U.S. U-20 program drafted by the Spirit in the past few years. She said she understands she will need time to develop and earn playing time.

“It’s a great thing for younger players to go [pro early] because the earlier you go, the better,” she said. “I’m not going in thinking, ‘Oh, I am going to start and play every minute.’ I am going in thinking I am going to learn every single minute I am there.”

Rodman added: “I’ve always been really into criticism. Honestly, I like getting negative feedback more than positive because I love to learn from it. Going into the environment with so many wiser, older, more experienced players, I am going to learn so much.”

The Spirit acquired another first-round pick, No. 8 overall, in a trade with New Jersey-based Sky Blue FC and used it to take Southern California senior forward Tara McKeown. In the second round, Washington selected Boston University attacker Anna Heilferty, the spring 2017 All-Met Player of the Year from Stuart High (now Justice High) in Falls Church, Va.

Players have until Jan. 22 to decide whether to play the NCAA spring season, which was created after the fall cancellation, or report to the NWSL.

The league is planning to hold a bubble tournament in April and start the regular season in May. The Spirit is expected to split its 12 home matches between Audi Field in D.C. and Segra Field in Leesburg, Va.

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