Katherine Reynolds concluded a stellar four-year career for Santa Clara University in 2009, exchanging her foundational place with the Broncos for a professional player's life upon leaving the Bay Area school. Nine years, four leagues, and seven teams later, Reynolds has become an integral part of a championship club, establishing herself as an integral part of Portland Thorns FC.
On May 30, 2018, against a North Carolina Courage team that continues the legacy of her first NWSL club – Western New York Flash – Reynolds celebrated her 100th appearance in the National Women's Soccer League in a unique fashion: scoring her first professional goal in the team's 4-1 loss. And before her historic night, ThornsFC.com caught up with the defensive standout to reflect on a century's worth of games in the NWSL.
Q: What does reaching the 100-game played mark in the NWSL mean to you?
A: I think it’s a really big achievement. I didn’t really know that 100 games was this Wednesday until (Thorns general manager) Gavin (Wilkinson) told me the other night, but I knew it was around this time.
I just think it showed consistency, but I am a little bit bummed about missing so much of the season last year, because I know I would have achieved my goal a little bit sooner.
Reynolds missed the first 14 games of the 2017 season with a groin injury.
It’s a bummer that it look as long as it did, but I’m still happy I was able to make it to 100 and hopefully a lot more, going forward.
Q: When you came back over here from Germany before the 2013 (where she had been playing with SC Freiburg), having already experienced Women’s Professional Soccer, what were your expectations for the new league?
A: That this was going to be the best league in the world, just because the best players are here, and the best players want to come here. I think that’s become true.
Q: Do you remember your first NWSL game?
A: I can’t? (Laughs.) But our team was amazing. I was actually just showing (Thorns head coach) Mark (Parsons) a picture of the starting lineup photo from that year, and it was an amazing roster. Some of my best memories are from that team.
That Western New York team won the 2013 NSWL Shield before losing to the Thorns in the league’s first title game, with Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd, Sam Kerr, McCall Zerboni, Adrianna Franch, Angela Salem, Brittany Taylor and Estelle Johnson among the Flash’s standouts.
Q: Which games do come to mind when you think back over these five-plus years?
I don’t know about favorite game, but the first memories is winning the (2017) championship, of course. That was always my goal, my dream, to win a national championship, so that was an incredible feeling, and one I’ll never forget.
Other games, probably my first time playing for the Thorns here in [Providence Park]. You would always come here and play against the Thorns and be so impressed by the fans, but to actually be a part of it and knowing they’re cheering for you, that’s a big one.
A game that stands out to me was actually that first year in Western New York when we played in the semifinals before the championship game. We played Sky Blue and we won 2-0. I remember I got an assist on Carli [Lloyd's] goal. That was really fun. That was a really big game.
Of course, when we beat Seattle here (in 2016) because a lot of the national team players were gone, and no one really expected us to win. But we call believed in each other and pulled it out. It was amazing. It was awesome that that many fans showed up even knowing that a lot of our players were going to be gone. It was one of the biggest attendances of the year, and that was so cool.
Q: Thinking back on where the league was and where you were, what comes to mind about not only how the league has changed by how you’ve changed?
A: I think the league just continues to get better and better. There are so many amazing players in the league, and like I said, so many people want to come here and play. The league only gets stronger, that way.
Teams like Portland, Houston, Utah and Orlando have raised the standards of what is required to be a professional team in this league. That’s great, and I’m lucky that I get to play for one of those clubs that’s setting that high standard.
As a player, under Mark, I’ve learned a lot and continue to grow. I never would have expected to play center back.
Q: Yeah, that’s a change!
A: Yeah, it’s nice to be able to play more than one position. I think, overall, everyone’s growing. I’m growing. It’s all good.
Q: When you think about the best teammates you’ve had, over the last five years – we know all your teammates are great! – but which ones stand out as being the most thankful to have shared your time with?
A: Number one would be Angela (Salem), because we’ve lived together. We both had a similar experience our [first professional year], being a developmental player (in Women’s Professional Soccer), which was not a great role to have. But we had that, and we had the opportunity to play [with the Atlanta Beat] and grow as players, and have the opportunity to be key players on a team. Obviously, we’ve lived together for so many years. She’ll be at my wedding, so I’ve very thankful for her.
Other players, I think Carli Lloyd was a really important role model and friend. She’s the ultimate professional, and that’s something that I always strive to be. I think she makes a great example of that. She’s also someone who really stands out to me.
Here in Portland, [Christine Sinclair] is our captain, and in my opinion, she’s one of the best players in the entire world. I’m just so thankful that I get the opportunity to be on the same team as her.
Growing up, when I played for the Sounders Women and she played for the Vancouver Whitecaps, it was always my job to mark Christine Sinclair. It was always like, “Oh my gosh! I have to mark Christine Sinclair,” and it turns out, she’s actually a really awesome person and a great captain, and an incredible player. That’s probably another one that really stands out to me.
I played with so many incredible players before this 100, up to this 100. I’ve just been so lucky.