The American-born, New-Zealand soccer star Ali Riley, receiver of the WPS Rookie of the Year Award in 2010, grew up locally in the Pacific Palisades and played for the Wolverines at Harvard-Westlake School. She led her high school team to the 2006 CIF Southern Section Division 1 title game. She also was involved in local clubs; both the Westside Breakers and So Cal United club. She moved on to play internationally in the Women’s World Cup in 2007 and the Olympic Games in 2008 for New Zealand.
After her beginnings in SoCal, she moved up to Stanford for college and played on the Division 1 Women’s team. She never thought of playing soccer professionally or pursuing it as a career, she explains, “Until I got drafted. I did not have high hopes at all. … I never considered myself a really good player”. After repeatedly trying out for the Women’s Professional Soccer draft nine times, she was picked up by the New Zealand National women’s team, one of the best leagues in the world.
Ali Riley is the player who has a little bit of everything, speed, agility, and skill. She excels in defending in a 1 v 1 situation, and makes it hard for opponents to get around her. Let her be an example to young soccer players who were told they weren’t good enough or we not the top player on their team. Perhaps try switching up your position to find your perfect fit like Ali, who was picked up by Stanford as a forward and blossomed as a defender during her junior year.