When Sophia Smith announced she’d be leaving Stanford University after only her sophomore year, I had thoughts. None of them were particularly supportive of her decision.
A Stanford degree is a valuable commodity. Even football star Andrew Luck opted to stick around all four years and graduate, and he was looking at a juicy NFL salary as a rookie.
When I graduated, no one was leaving Stanford without a diploma to play professional women’s soccer. There just wasn’t enough money or security in it.
Sophia Smith was the #1 draft pick in the NWSL in 2020, which I imagine was a hugely validating moment for both her and her parents, but her sights went beyond the NWSL to the USWNT. It seemed to be a lofty goal for a sophomore striker with no professional experience. She tore up the college game, but the USWNT…that’s another level.
Sophia Smith is where she belongs
Yet here I am today not necessarily taking back all of my prior judgmental thoughts (because I mean come on, that Stanford degree is precious…yes I might be biased), but she’s proven to me and everybody else that she belongs on the USWNT in a big way.
Despite a solid team performance in a recent loss to England, the USWNT followed that up with a shockingly disappointing loss to Spain that raised a number of questions about the team’s ability to not just win the 2023 World Cup, but compete with the big guns they’d also have to face along the way to the finals.
Though I know the team is still plenty capable of being the world’s best, my confidence in them is admittedly not at an all-time high. My confidence in Sophia Smith however, is wildly high.
Yes she’s young, she’ll make mistakes, she’ll have off days like everyone else and the World Cup is a stage unlike any she’s yet to step on, but I suspect that she’ll step up and thrive.
Along the way to her inevitable journey with the USWNT at the World Cup, Smith has now acquired a 2022 NWSL MVP award as well.
My question is no longer what can she do, but rather, will you be tuning in with me to see her do it?