Though Emily Sonnett wasn’t at the 2016 NWSL College Draft in Baltimore today to hear her name called with the first overall pick by Portland Thorns FC, she had a pretty good excuse.
Sonnett was with the U.S. Women’s National Team in Carson, Calif. during their January training camp. While the draft started early on West Coast time ahead of the day's practices, Sonnett was definitely tuning into the stream to watch.
The University of Virginia product spoke with us to talk about her memorable day, her hopes for the upcoming Thorns season and how she’s eager to get to know her new Rose City home and teammates.
Brian Costello: A huge day for you. What does it mean to you on a personal level to be selected first overall in the 2016 NWSL College Draft?
Emily Sonnett: “On a personal level, I think getting taken number one, I think it kind of puts in perspective all the hard work I’ve done over the past four years in college. Because having those four years to develop, there’s long hours put into that so on a personal level, I’m very excited. It’s a little bit surreal to be a defender and to be taken number one. That’s just a great feeling. I’m very happy, very excited to be going to a great organization in going to Portland. It’s an amazing feeling.”
BC: What was the scene like when you were watching the draft today and when you saw your name come on the screen?
ES: “I woke up early because it was at 7:00 a.m. [here in California] and I was in my bed. My iPad wasn’t working so I used my phone and I was just watching it. It took a little while [for the draft] to get going and I was kind of tired so I was dozing off but finally, it started. And then they said my name and I just kind of watched and they played my video which I thought seemed kind of corny but I’m glad we had something to play. So I just stayed in my bed watching it. Texts started flowing in, some tweets of people congratulating me so it was a pretty cool moment.”
BC: Did you hear from your family?
ES: “My mom and dad and sister all texted me. They called me a bit later because they knew I’d be a little busy going to breakfast [with the team]. So they texted me and I heard from my aunts and uncles, there were a couple Facebook posts from relatives so that was really cool to see.”
BC: What has Mark Parsons said to you that he’s hoping to see from you this year?
ES: “I’ve talked to Mark a few times and he’s seen me during my four years at Virginia so he knows what I can do. I think his main reason for picking me is helping with the backline. Hopefully, him seeing me play and progress these last four years, he sees me as developing and eventually contributing to Portland this next coming season.”
BC: Do you feel any added pressure being the number one overall pick?
ES: “I don’t feel pressure. I think, again, it’s just a great honor. It’s even better to know that I’m going to Portland. I’ve said this numerous times but the fans are going to be unreal and just talking to other people in the league about Providence Park, [I know] it’s a great place to play. That’s what I’m most excited about is getting to a great atmosphere, playing for the Portland Thorns and hopefully having a good season.”
BC: You’re in the USWNT camp now and received your first national team cap earlier this fall. What’s that experience been like with the national team?
ES: “I think if you ask anyone, that’s anyone’s dream to get called in and eventually earn a cap. I’ve been lucky enough to get called in and get to play with some of the best in the world. It’s a great learning experience, a great way to develop and I’m very honored that they continue to bring me in to train to get better.”
ES: “Yeah, I’ve been talking to them a little bit. It’s great getting a chance to play with them before going [to Portland] to kind of get to know what they’re like on and off the field. I will absolutely be in contact with them about trying to figure out where are the places to go, and I love food so I want to know all the good places in Portland because I’ve never been.”
BC: What’s your biggest hope for the upcoming NWSL season?
ES: “I would say earning playing time. Going in as a rookie, that’s something that you have to be open to different things with what the coach wants. I think also winning another championship would be amazing. And honestly, playing with a great group of girls. I’ve only heard good things about Portland and the team so I’m very excited to get out there and start training with the coaching staff and new teammates.”