An Inside Look at the 2020 NWSL College Draft

Backstage at the 2020 National Women’s Soccer League College Draft recently-selected forward Tziarra King stops a reporter mid-question as the opening beat of a Kanye West song pours out over the load speakers. The product of North Carolina State immediately starts to dance, taking a moment to celebrate and soak in the tangible feeling of having her dreams come true. 

She’s just been selected as the No. 8 overall pick, the highest selection in Utah Royals FC history and the first-ever from NC State. And within moments of becoming a professional athlete she’s already turning heads. In her speech at the podium she used her time to thank her family, friends, coaches and, uniquely, the grounds crew, sports phycologists and equipment staffs who had dedicated time to get her to this exact moment. Her poise in front of the microphone is that of a seasoned veteran and her infectious laugh has the broadcast reporter laughing right alongside of her, putting everyone at ease.   

Without missing a beat she slides right back into answering more questions for the gaggle of reporters, slipping in a couple more dance moves here and there.  

On the other side of the media backdrop, at the Utah draft table, Interim Head Coach Scott Parkinson is calling Kate Del Fava, a midfielder from Illinois State. She’s currently sitting alone in her apartment in Normal, Illinois watching the live stream, the ringing from her phone causes her heart to feel like its about to jump out of her chest. She’s just become the second in school history to be drafted and by far the highest at No. 12 overall.  

It’s at this time that the Utah Royals FC contingent experiences a brief period of calmness with such an extended time frame between the club’s second and third pick. 

There’s a moment when Parkinson and General Manager Stephanie Lee consider joining in on all the hectic draft-day trades, but ultimately they decide to stick to the plan, and for now that plan includes drafting Cyera Hintzen, a forward out of the University of Texas. 

Much like Del Fava, Hintzen is back home in Austin, Texas when she gets the call from Parkinson. It’s now almost halfway through the final round with only six picks remaining and Hintzen is getting more anxious by the moment. It’s then that an unknown number pops up on the screen of her cellphone, when she picks up the first thing that registers is the background noise, the music over the loud speakers and the sound of people talking all around the room. She can’t quite make out anything that Parkinson is saying, but one thing is clear she’s just been selected to join Utah Royals FC. 

With the last pick submitted Lee and Parkinson immediately turn their attention to what’s next. With several teams still making their final selections, the duo sets out to find players they can invite out to the team’s open tryouts. With the success of last year’s tryouts, finding defender Gaby Vincent who was the only rookie to make the full roster, the staff is working overtime to make sure no stone is left unturned. 

With this past week in the rearview mirror, the work for this season has only just begun and Lee and Parkinson can’t help but wish for preseason to come a little quicker.