AP NEWS

13-year-old soccer player drops commitment to UNC -- she’s going pro

March 29, 2019

Anson Dorrance has a lot of experience scouting talent in women’s soccer, so he was not surprised to hear recent news that a recruit of his was skipping college to pursue a professional career.

“I knew as soon as she decided to join us that she may never get here,” said Dorrance, who has won 22 national championships with the University of North Carolina women’s soccer team.

He’s talking about 13-year-old Olivia Moultrie. She’s a super-skilled phenom from California and she is the youngest female soccer player to ever turn pro. She was committed to Dorrance and UNC and had been for two years. She was 11 when she accepted a scholarship from UNC, becoming the youngest commitment ever for Dorrance.

The connection was made when Moultrie’s family contacted UNC hoping for a chance to showcase the young player’s skills.

“I thought she was outstanding,” Dorrance said. “I thought her skill set was there, her tactical understanding of the game was there. And for someone so young that have all these pieces, I had no issue with her deciding to commit to us knowing fully well that it was possible we were never going to see her.”

It’s not terribly unusual for exceptional athletes to commit to scholarships early. Stanford offered a scholarship to Tiger Woods when he was 14 and the Michigan football program extended an offer to an eighth-grade linebacker just last year. What is unusual is Moultrie’s choice to forgo the scholarship.

She has already signed with an agent and has a contract with Nike that is reportedly worth more than a college scholarship, which is estimated at about $300,000.

“I think it’s bold in terms of you will never know how you will develop as a young player,” said Heather O’Reilly, a veteran of the U.S. Women’s National team and now a player for the Carolina Courage.

She said overall it’s a great step for women’s sports and she will root for Moultrie in the coming years.

“These kinds of things go on all the time in Europe on the men’s side, so why not do it with women’s soccer?” she said. “Olivia is just the first one to try it.”

Dorrance, who has been coaching women’s soccer for decades and working to promote the game, agrees.

“The way I look at it is this is great. What Moultrie is doing is certainly a gamble but it’s great,” he said. “I hope she makes it and I hope she makes money hand over fist.”