Kathryn Williamson started all but one game of the 81 she played in her career as a center back for the University of Florida Women’s soccer team. She has defended the Gators’ side of the pitch, shuffling away anyone who tried to score a goal. Although an injury threatened to end her career, she’s heading to Portland as a part of the opening of the National Women’s Soccer League.
Williamson graduated from the University of Florida in December of 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. While at UF, she led the team in minutes during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, scored two career goals and fought back from a right meniscus injury. After graduating in December, she was picked up in the first round of the National Women’s Soccer League draft by the Portland Thorns FC.
Matches begin in April, and Williamson is ready. The two-time All-American, 2010 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and 2010/2011 All-SEC First Team player said her greatest struggle was battling the injury that could have ended her career.
In the fifth game of the 2012 season, against Florida International, she tore her right meniscus.
“Being out for the majority of my senior season was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever experienced,” Williamson said.
She didn’t sit out the entire season, though. Williamson returned in time to carry the team through three games of the NCAA tournament before the team was eliminated by Notre Dame.
Healed from her injury, Williamson said she looks forward to playing in the professional realm. She said the opening of the new pro league for women is a great opportunity for female athletes, and credits the return of a women’s league to the success of the US Women’s National Team.
“It’s definitely gotten women’s soccer out there, especially in the United States,” Williamson said. “I mean soccer maybe isn’t the biggest sport here, so it’s good they’re getting out there and getting publicity and getting out there in the public eye.”
As she prepares to embark on the adventure of becoming a professional athlete, Williamson is taking things one step at a time. She said planning isn’t really her style and right now her objective is to do well in her first activities with Portland.
“My goal is to have a really good preseason and see where it goes from there,” she said. “I don’t want to make any plans because who knows what could happen, but I’m definitely just going to try my hardest and see what happens from there.”
Williamson is one of four UF women soccer players who will be suiting up for professional clubs here in the US next season.