Never stop learning! An in-depth interview with NWSL goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer.
We are very excited to bring you our latest interview with former Michigan Wolverine & current Orlando Pride goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer! She covers a lot of topics, including the growth of the women's game in the United States and how her journey overseas has helped her development as a goalkeeper. Check out the full interview below!
How did you get into goalkeeping? Was sports a big part of your life when you were younger?
When I was growing up, my aunt Margaret was an All-American defender at the University of Wisconsin and I also had a couple uncles who were women's college coaches. The game itself has always been in my family- as well as sports generally with my mom and sisters playing college volleyball. When I was younger, I desperately wanted to be good at soccer; although running was never my strong suit. I I tried goalkeeping when I was 11 or so and the coordination aspects from other sports sort of made the position stick. Plus, I didn't have to run :)
Throughout your youth career, you saw multiple women's professional leagues come & go. When did professional soccer become a reality for you? When did you know that was something you wanted to work towards?
Throughout most of my collegiate career, there was no women's pro league in the US. I was coming up on graduation with the reality that the only way for me to keep playing would be overseas. It was a stroke of luck that the NWSL started in the winter of 2013. I had taken a medical red shirt my freshman season so I played a fifth year and graduated just before the very first draft instead of that summer before, which would have faced me with the reality of being overseas already or fully immersed into a 9-5 life.
How would you quantify the importance of the NWSL for the expansion of youth soccer on the women's side in the United States? Does a strong league with more teams lead to higher youth soccer involvement?
I don't know numbers or stats on current female participation, however I do know the importance of having role models and accessibility to high level soccer absolutely inspires more kids to play. It also provides coaches more structure and resources on how to coach players at every age and level.
You spent multiple seasons in Seattle and currently play in Orlando; at the age of 28, talk about the development of the league itself and where you see if going from here.
There have certainly been changes and shifts in the league in the now 5+ seasons I've been a part of it. I would say the biggest from a club perspective is the benefit and movement to add MLS backed teams that provide greater resources and levels of professionalism than those who don't. By adding teams like Houston, Orlando and Utah- teams that wish to join the league knowing what the standard of living and training is for elite players. And for teams that aren't MLS backed, the commitment to try and match the standards set elsewhere is great. Unfortunately, as we've seen with Boston and Kansas City, not all teams are able to commit to the funding and work it takes to compete and be a desirable destination for players. I hope we continue to see expansion to teams with great MLS (and even some USL) backings. The more teams in the league, the more opportunity girls all over the world have to play and compete at the highest level.