Utah Royals

Road To Royalty: Paige Monaghan

Paige Monaghan's Road to Royalty started early.

“I have just always loved playing,” Monaghan said.

“I remember being young and playing for my local recreational teams. I would jump into my cousin's team practices even though they were a few years older than me to play because I always wanted to play. I thought it was so much fun.”

Paige's passion for soccer never left and her family supported her desire to be the best player she can be.

"My older brother Jimmy would wear boxing gloves, stand in our backyard, and play goalkeeper for me.” 

“My sister Grace would play defense. We would be outside with the back deck lights!"

Monaghan has always relied on her support system, as it has not been a smooth ride for the newly named Utah Royals FC Captain.

Heading into her first year of high school at Roxbury High School Paige got introduced to the world of youth club soccer. Trying out for Match Fit Academy with aspirations that a season in, a more competitive environment would lead to a successful high school season. That was until the MFA coach broke the news.

“The coach told me that I did not make the team. He thought I was not going to score against big teams; he did not see that for me. I was devastated."

She was forced to backtrack on her plan and find a new club.

Fortunately, Players Development Academy reached out to Paige, inviting her to try out with one of their teams and this time, she made the cut. She played on PDA starting her freshman year of high school, but this was a challenging time for Monaghan.

"I would play only around 10 minutes, and I would cry to my dad on my way home about the girls being too good and me not being at that same level,” Monaghan said.

Monaghan learned a life lesson that has stuck with her ever since. "Luckily, my parents were just so supportive and would tell me, 'Whatever role you play, however many minutes you play, just be the best YOU can be and continue to grow and learn.'"

Bolstered by assurances from her family, she then began her journey to become an excellent teammate and the best version of herself. She also points out that this time helped her realize that the number of starts or minutes you get does not determine your worth; it's what you choose to do with that time and your attitude.

Paige circles back time and time again to being a humble servant when asked about her leadership style.

"I've been on so many different teams, with so many great players, that I think it's almost prepared me for this moment,” Monaghan said. “I look across the locker room and am so lucky to be surrounded by such amazing people, great athletes, and great soccer players.”

She says this has always been instilled into her by her parents.

After a successful freshman season at Roxbury High School, she gained a more critical role in her PDA team and gained more and more minutes. By the end of her sophomore year, she was committed to play for Purdue University after receiving a scholarship offer. Monaghan says this was huge for her whole family. The Purdue coach saw something in her, which meant so much to her after facing adversity throughout her club career.

After a productive senior year of high school, she discovered that the whole coaching staff at Purdue had been fired.

"I didn't know if they were going to honor my scholarship. It was scary after I had worked so hard, not to be sure if I would still be able to play college soccer at Purdue."

Luckily for Monaghan, her vast improvement over four seasons with club and high school attracted the attention of other universities.

Throughout her senior year, she received multiple scholarships, and after visiting and meeting with the coaching staff, she uncommitted from Purdue University and committed to Butler University. She left Roxbury High School with 68 goals in only 45 appearances and won NJ.com's 2014 NJAC Girls Soccer Player of the Year award.

Monaghan's decision to commit to Butler University was not simple, but then she visited the coaching staff and talked with Head Coach Rob Alman.

"He was the only coach who told me I would not start and had to earn my spot. At that point in my journey, that's what I needed. That's when I knew that's where I wanted to go."

Butler was a fundamental building block for Monaghan. She credits Butler with helping her personal development as a soccer player.

"I wanted to be the best I could be. I didn't expect to play; I just wanted to push myself to learn and grow. They just helped me so much with my personal development. Great players and people surrounded me".

During her time at Butler, Monaghan started receiving invitations to U-23 US Women's National Team camps, which brought a familiar feeling back to her.

"Again, everyone is like, 'Who's this girl?' because many of those girls have been there since they were 14-15 years old, and here I am at 20 coming in for the first time with the U-23s," Monaghan said.

Monaghan graduated early, completing her senior season with Butler and earning a bachelor's degree in Marketing. She then shifted her focus to the 2019 NWSL College Draft, where she knew some coaches were interested in drafting her. She was selected 10th overall by Sky Blue FC (Now Gotham FC).

"It was such a huge moment for me,” Monaghan said. “Wow, I can do this. I was super excited about being able to play at home."

Sky Blue FC signed Monaghan in 2019. She made 23 regular season appearances, ending with two goals and one assist during her rookie season in 2019. She finished her contract with NJ/NY Gotham FC in 2022 and requested a trade at the end of the season.

"I talked to Yael and requested a trade."

“I was comfortable being home and in a routine but I had to think of my career as a whole and knew I wanted to be in a new environment to allow myself to grow. That was a hard decision; it was not easy, but that is where I just took a leap of faith because where I ended up was out of my control. I then got notified I would be getting traded to Racing Louisville FC".

Monaghan arrived at Racing Louisville FC at the start of the 2023 NWSL Season after signing a 3-year contract. She recorded a stellar 2023 Season with the club, making 22 regular season appearances with three goals and two assists.

"I had my first year with the team over the 2023 season and enjoyed my time with the girls and the supporters. When the NWSL Expansion Draft came around, I heard that Utah was interested but didn't think that was going to happen through the conversations I had, but it quickly changed and I learned I was not protected in the draft".

URFC Head Coach Amy Rodriguez and her staff selected Monaghan from Racing Louisville FC during the 2024 NWSL Expansion Draft.

"On Friday, I received a phone call from Amy, and she just congratulated me on being selected and let me know how excited they were to have me at the club," Monaghan said.

Monaghan noticed how URFC took a player-first approach and empowered women with the movement the club was reaching for.

"I think seeing what Utah was doing with the facilities, the buy-in, empowering women, and hiring Amy Rodriguez,” Monaghan said.

“I was just like, wow, they are doing it right there."

Paige touches on how the Expansion Draft can take you by surprise.

"I am a loyal person, and I don't want to be the player bouncing around from team to team, so I think that was hard for me at first."

“I felt like I had just gotten to Louisville, and now I'm on a new team. It's just one of those things where I thought I had it figured out in Louisville for the next two seasons, and I was going to do whatever I could for the club. Things changed so quickly, and to not be protected was a reflection moment because that wasn't what I expected."

Taking her family’s support was so important during this transition period in her career.

"Once I talked to Amy thoroughly about what she is trying to build at this club, I was excited to be part of it. Just talking to my loved ones and just slowing down with them and realizing that everything happens for a reason and having their full support helped me finally realize that I would be more than okay".

Once Paige arrived in Utah, everything changed for the better. Finally, she could see what was happening within the club. URFC’s actions spoke louder than just their words.

"Once I got here and physically saw everything happening, meeting the girls and staff reassured me that I would be okay,” Monaghan said.

“Now that we are one game into the season, my emotions about being okay just keep getting more and more validated."

Paige is taking this new opportunity to make the most of her new home, taking full advantage of what Utah nature offers.

"It's so beautiful here. My boyfriend (Declan) and I actually made a little road trip to Park City and then went to Zion. We're just amazed at what Utah has to offer. I feel calmer here, which sounds weird, but it's just so peaceful in any direction you look. I am excited to continue to share that with him and the rest of my family".

Paige was voted Captain for the 2024 Season by her teammates and coaches. She is the type of player who can find a point of relatability with every player in the locker room. Throughout her career, she has faced adversity but has never allowed that to mar her character and the leader she strives to be: a humble servant.

"It just means so much to me,” Monaghan said.

“I have worked hard to get where I am, surround myself with good people, and make good choices. I took leaps of faith in times, and even when I didn't even believe in myself, the people around me did so for me. Now, I take great pride in being empowered to continue to be that person for someone else. I am still just so touched and honored; it might sound corny, but I feel like I can relate to so many people—even the girls who aren't playing right now, like I have been there. I've scored game winners, sat on the bench, started games, finished games, been cut, and played only 10 minutes off the bench, so I get it.”

“I think that's something unique about my journey and, more specifically, my journey as now a captain."

“Hey, Paige here! Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I am proud to be your captain and will do everything I can to serve my teammates, the community and empower the Utah Royals!”