Segra Field Credit: Kelyn Soong

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After the Washington Spirit took her second overall in Wednesday night’s NWSL draft, Trinity Rodman was, naturally, asked about the influence of her famous father. 

When you’re the daughter of Dennis Rodman, and a newly minted professional athlete, that line of questioning is inevitable. But Rodman didn’t want to talk much about the former NBA star and would only go as far as acknowledging the biological gifts that he provided her. 

“Obviously he was an amazing athlete and I got those genes from him, but I’m excited to be known as Trinity Rodman and not just Dennis Rodman’s daughter, so I’m excited to pave my own path and get better throughout this journey,” the 18-year-old said. 

Though it may be impossible to make sports fans forget about “The Worm” entirely, the younger Rodman has the potential to eventually sit alongside the former Chicago Bulls star when it comes to career accomplishments. 

“I think Rodman was a no-brainer,” Spirit head coach Richie Burke said of his team’s decision to draft the forward. “I think of the people that were available in this draft with incredible upsides, Trinity Rodman ticks the box in that regard. I think that’s one that we will reap the benefits from for a number of years.”

Rodman has made her name with United States youth national teams. Her performances with the under-20 side saw her named one of three finalists for the U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year award in 2020.

Burke was alerted to Rodman’s talents a year ago by U.S. under-20 head coach Laura Harvey.

“The word that Laura used at the time was ‘legit.’ She’s legit,” Burke said.

Rodman was set to test herself at the collegiate level with Washington State in the fall, before the pandemic changed her plan entirely.

The Pac-12 moved its season from the fall to the spring and Rodman was suddenly faced with a choice: Wait around for her freshman season to start in the spring or declare for January’s NWSL draft?

“Washington State is an awesome school, awesome staff, awesome people. I fell in love as soon as I got there, but I think as COVID hit in the environment, I was just kind of feeling stuck in a way,” Rodman said. “Obviously professional is a higher level [than college], and I know I’m at a point right now where I could be at that level to get even better than I would be in college, so I was just kind of like, ‘Let’s just go. I want to get better. Let’s go.'”

Rodman will undoubtedly get better at the pro level, but it’s unclear how quickly she’ll get the chance to prove herself on the field. She is a raw, but gifted prospect who is entering the league at an age when most players are just starting their collegiate career.

The teenager knows her early days in the league will be a learning experience, and that progress won’t always be linear.

“The one thing I’m most excited for is just to learn from this,” Rodman said. “[At] the professional level you’re going to learn more than you’re going to do well really, but I’m excited to learn.”

Burke admitted that Harvey told him “there was a little bit of work for Trinity to do to get to this pro level” but he isn’t ruling out the possibility she could feature prominently for his team in 2021. 

Though there are plenty of Spirit veterans like World Cup champions Kelley O’Hara and Emily Sonnett that Rodman can watch and learn from, her talent may push her to the fore sooner than expected. 

“It will be fantastic for her to learn from those top pros,” Burke said of his veteran leadership, “but if she steps up in preseason and she looks like a champion and she can get things done for us, there won’t be a happier coach in the league than me.”