North Carolina College Forward Diana Ordonez Enjoying a prolific rookie season on the NWSL. In August she broke the previous NWSL record (7) for most goals scored in a rookie season. I’m in 4th place Alex Morgan (15), Teammate of Courage Devinha (12), Sophia Smith (12).
Before the regular season ends, On Her Turf spoke with Ordonez about starting football, moving to the NWSL, playing for the Mexican national team and what his tattoos mean.
This Q&A has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
About her territories: I always describe myself as a timeline person so I would like to start with your football beginnings. Are you particularly interested in how your family influenced you when you were just starting out?
Diana Ordóñez: Yes, I am the youngest of five children. I have two older brothers who have been playing soccer for as long as I can remember. My father also played soccer all the way to the semi-pro level. And growing up, I always wanted to be around my brothers and do what they were doing.
When I was about five years old, we moved to Dallas, Texas. However, my parents quickly realized that the football scene in Dallas was very serious, so they wanted to bring me to the right place and the right team. , was a great blessing for me.
I was (initially) playing for one team in 2001 with an age limit, but different divisions had different age limits. So when they moved from one division to another, I was no longer allowed to play for that team. I was really upset about it, but I was still really young.I met then Matt Grubb, was my coach at FC Dallas for nine years until I went to college. I owe him a lot of credit to the player he made me and the team he was able to build.
After that, he played three years at the University of Virginia, was drafted last December, and is now brave enough to be here.
About her territories: Given that women’s professional soccer in America hasn’t always been around in your lifetime, you’ll want to 1) notice a woman playing professional soccer and 2) find out if it’s When did it become your personal goal?
Ordóñez: When I was younger, the (women’s) league didn’t really stand out so much, so I didn’t really know it was an option. rice field. But it was just something I always said to myself, “Oh, when I grow up, I want to be a professional soccer player.”
When I entered high school and started getting hired, it seemed like there was more potential. (NWSL) became more prominent and the US national team became very dominant. It was a dream for a while, but after entering high school and college, it became a reality.
About her territories: You obviously had a very successful college life at the University of Virginia. Can you explain your decision to graduate in just three years and declare the NWSL Draft?
Ordóñez: Yes, my time at UVA was incredible. I definitely feel like God led me there. I love my home so moving across the country was really hard at first…it was just a leap of faith.
In fact, I graduated from high school a semester early. Then, in the spring, I went to UVA. I think this really helped me grow, get on the team, get to know everyone and find my footing without jumping into the season…so at 17 I was a semester early It was really hard to get there, not to mention the times, but it was definitely worth it.
But yeah, my time at UVA felt really, really short and passed really fast, especially with the pandemic. They were really, really kind. They really focus on player development.
Making the decision to turn pro from college level was not an easy one, especially at a young age.It has required many conversations and many prayers with my family. Steve (Swanson), The UVA head coach was very honest with me. He told me, “There are parts of your game that are not ready to be played at a professional level, but there are parts of your game that are ready to be played at a professional level. and thought of all he had to say, and I am so grateful for his honesty with me.
Getting a degree was also very important to me. If I hadn’t graduated (in three years), I wouldn’t have quit early. So just having a degree made me feel like I was in a good place when it came to football.
On her turf: With the NWSL season already in full swing, did you make it to college graduation this spring?
Ordóñez: Yes, I was lucky enough to go to the graduation ceremony. That was something I was very, very grateful for (Courage head coach) Sean (Naha) for; he understood that it was a really big deal for me and deserved to be celebrated and experienced. We drove up, graduated, came back the next day and played a match.
On Her Turf: It sounds like you made the leap from college football to the NWSL pretty seamlessly! Was professional football what you expected, or were there many surprises along the way?
Ordóñez: Like you said, it’s just part of the whole thing. Sometimes it went as expected, and sometimes it was completely unexpected.
My goal when I was drafted was that I wanted to play. I’m not the type of player who’s like, “Oh, I want to make a roster, I want to travel.” The goal is to always play regardless of your level. What helped me a lot is that, like many other newcomers, the veterans really accepted and helped me.
Also a big thank you to Sean (Nahas) for giving me the chance. I know there are a lot of places that don’t give rookies a chance. I think he created a very fair opportunity for me to show what I can do and to prove that I belong on the field…the team was also a brand new group so they put me in the group I feel very lucky to have been chosen to be part of the I know this year is a rebuilding year. At least that’s what people thought, considering how many people we’ve lost from last season to this one.
Going into the season and winning the Challenge Cup was at a time when everyone thought we were just rebuilding and not being a competitive team. But yeah, my transition here was really, really smooth.
About her territory: I know there are a lot of NWSL playoff scenarios at the moment, but honestly, trying to think of the different outcomes gives me a headache. What is Courage focused on as we approach the end of the regular season?
Ordóñez: We’ve come out of a very difficult situation that put us in the beginning of the season (2-4-6 in the first 12 games, last place in mid-August). I think the reaction from the team in the second half of the season was very impressive. Everyone is really on board and want to give ourselves the best chance of making the playoffs…at this point we worry about controlling what we can control. doing.
About Her Territory: I covered it when the NWSL Players’ Association was negotiating its first Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Curious about what CBA means to you, or maybe you don’t have much of a sense of it considering she never had NWSL without it?
Ordóñez: Well, luckily I don’t know the difference. I give a big round of applause and do a lot of credit to the players and the people who make up the (Players Association). What they deserved from us and how much they fought for what they deserved for so long. The wages they were earning were not enough to live comfortably. It’s such a shame that it cost you to realize your dreams.
So I feel very fortunate to be a part of the league at such a critical time when the league is really booming and players are calling out for what they deserve. I didn’t really have to do much… I was drafted and had a CBA. But that doesn’t mean that what they did went unnoticed. I am so grateful to the PA and team representatives and the people who really didn’t give up until they got what they wanted and deserved.
About her turf: I also wanted to hear your thoughts on playing for the Mexican national team. What are your future goals internationally?
Ordóñez: Yes, as you said, it was a great disappointment to finish the CONCACAF tournament this summer. Obviously, the goal of the national team is to play in the World Cup, to play in the Olympics, and for that you need to qualify. Yes, there were many disappointments.
But I also believe that everything has a reason and many changes are needed. And without those consequences, I don’t think it would have happened… Mexico is kind of entering a new era. , didn’t work.
I think there are a lot of talented Mexican players. I don’t think it’s a lack of talent. I don’t think it’s our problem. I think you just need to get the right people together. And this is the time when we just rally and start from scratch, and I think it’s kind of a blessing.
Next time, I will be more prepared and able to actually compete and hopefully qualify for the World Cup.
About her territory: Lastly, I love your left arm tattoo. Could you tell us a little bit about what they represent?
Ordóñez: So from the top… on my shoulders are my parents. 1967 and he is 77 years their birth year. I have loved tattoos since I was little and always wanted to get one for my parents. They are really, really important to me.
From there, work your way down and you’ll find a number of tattoos that represent my faith. I am a very religious person and have a lot of trust in God and His plans. I believe his strength helps me every day. It’s exactly what helped me get to this point in making my dreams and everything come true. I have a bible verse, a cross, and on top of it, “Let your race run.” It’s from a Hebrew book and stays (approximately) in your lane. Focus on yourself and don’t get distracted by what other people are doing. I just know that my journey is not the same as everyone else’s.
And then there is the dahlia, the national flower of Mexico. It’s something I’ve been wanting to get for a while to represent my heritage and where I come from. Thanks for that. Most people don’t actually ask that.
Follow Alex Aji on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC