For Germantown native Rashida Beal, a second-team All-American defender for the Big 10 Conference champion University of Minnesota women's soccer team, plans have changed.
She graduated in December with a degree in psychology with a minor in neuro-science. The Big 10 scholar/athlete thought she would move onto grad school almost immediately with the idea of studying animal behavior and cognition, but that was before FC Kansas City of the National Women's Soccer League came calling.
They made her the fifth pick of the fourth round of their annual draft on Jan. 12.
Now Beal thinks she might give professional soccer a try.
She's staying in Minnesota right now, training and working out with college and men's teams to sharpen her skills for the formal team tryouts that begin March 13 in Kansas City.
"When they draft you, they don't offer you a contract," said Beal. "They'll look at you in the preseason, and if you make the team, that's when they offer you a contract. It's very nerve-wracking and exciting.
"I definitely knew that they were interested," she added, "but I wasn't sure if they'd draft me or simply invite me to camp."
The 10-team nationwide league begins play in late spring and continues play through the early fall championships. Kansas City turned in a 7-8-5 record last season.
Beal is a 2013 graduate of Germantown. She played two years for the Germantown High School team and four years for the North Shore United club team.
Minnesota offered her a scholarship and her career took off her junior year when she made second-team All-Big 10 and was named team defensive MVP. Her senior season this past year, things went even better as she was first-team All-Big 10 and league defender of the year.
The Golden Gophers won both the regular season and league tournament titles for the first time in program history. Things ended poorly, though, in the NCAA Tournament with a first-round loss.
Beal had prepped for that senior season by playing the previous summer in what was called the "W" League in Seattle, Washington.
"It's sort of a pro-am style league," said Beal. "People out of college who want to stay active in soccer and I felt I really grew a lot there. There were people all around me talking about playing professionally and I progressed enough until I thought, 'That could be something for me too.'"
She now has a chance at making that thought a reality as well as making a little history too.
"I knew I wanted to play some more," she said, "and I'm very happy that I'm able to do it while staying in the country (as opposed to international play). I like the idea that I'm part of a league that's growing tremendously. They've just added some new teams and I'm really happy to be part of that process."