Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021 -- The dream became a reality for Scottsdale's Kelsey Turnbow when she was selected with the 18th overall pick by the Chicago Red Stars in last month's NWSL Draft.
"I was filled with immediate excitement and gratitude as my childhood dream came true. I reflected on the sacrifices I have personally made to get to this point as well as the love and endless support of my family, coaches, teammates, and friends." Turnbow said. "Being granted this opportunity is an absolute blessing and I wouldn’t be in this position without the help of so many others. I am absolutely thrilled to arrive in the beautiful city of Chicago and play for such a remarkable club."
Turnbow, the 13th Arizona player to be selected in the NWSL, WPS, WUSA Drafts since 2000, has been a standout for Santa Clara ever since she stepped foot on the campus as a freshman in 2017. In 67 matches, she scored 35 goals and notched 22 assists while leading the program to the NCAA Tournament in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
As Turnbow looked poised to lead Santa Clara on another deep tournament run in 2020, COVID-19 derailed those plans and her senior season. However, in October 2020, the NCAA extended the eligibility for winter-sport student-athletes and while Trunbow was selected in this year's draft she has elected to stay at Santa Clara for her final collegiate season while finishing up her graduate degree.
"Santa Clara University is such a special place, and I can’t wait to spend another year here playing the sport I love with such an incredible group of people. In terms of education, I'm working towards earning a Masters in Business Administration which has always been a goal of mine. Because I was granted an extra season of eligibility, I felt this was the perfect opportunity to further my education to supplement my undergraduate finance degree. Throughout my program, I will be taking classes in the areas of finance, marketing, management, operation management and information systems, and economics. I am passionate about business in a broader sense and love that this program provides exposure in many avenues. With that being said though, I have considered focusing on entrepreneurship."
When Turnbow joins the Chicago Red Stars, she won't be the only Arizona player on their roster. She'll be joining Gilbert's Julie Ertz, a player that Turnbow has looked up to for years and shares many similarities too.
"I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to play with Julie. Being about 6 years younger than her, I was following her footsteps in terms of our respective soccer journeys. We played under the same club soccer coach (Les Armstrong) in Arizona, both had the opportunity to play for Santa Clara University’s incredible soccer program under head coach Jerry Smith and the rest of the coaching staff, both played for the U.S. Women's Youth National Teams, and now have the opportunity to play together for the first time with the Chicago Red Stars. Julie serves as a role model in the way she plays and carries herself, and I’m looking forward to growing on and off the field as her teammate."
While Turnbow has one eye on the pros and one eye on her upcoming season, she offered advice for the next generation of players looking to make the jump to the pros.
"Dream big and work effortlessly towards reaching your goals. Don’t take a day for granted. Treat every chance you have on the pitch as an opportunity to grow into the player you strive to be, and big things will subsequently fall into place."