13-year-old soccer phenom Olivia Moultrie is turning pro

·3 min read
Olivia Moultrie is turning pro at the tender age of 13.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Olivia Moultrie is turning pro at the tender age of 13. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

When girls are 13, many spend their time thinking about school and friends, social media and homework, hair and clothes, and maybe even their crushes. But Olivia Moultrie isn’t an ordinary 13-year-old. She’s trying to go where no girl her age has ever gone before: the world of professional soccer.

Moultrie, a Canyon Country, California, native, has turned pro at the tender age of 13. The New York Times reported that she’s signed a representation deal with Wasserman and a multi-year deal with Nike.

This isn’t the first time Moultrie has made headlines for doing something else that young girls don’t really do. Two years ago, at just 11 years old, Moultrie accepted a scholarship offer from the University of North Carolina, and became the youngest girls’ soccer player to ever do so.

Soccer has been Moultrie’s life for years. According to the New York Times, she started doing specialized soccer training at age 7, and by fifth grade she had been pulled out of school to be taught at home to make more time for soccer. By the time she’d accepted the scholarship from UNC, she’d been playing with boys at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and had been attending college showcases for a year.

Moultrie’s agent, Spencer Wadsworth, wouldn’t reveal the amount of the Nike deal to the New York Times, but did say it’s more than the $300,000 a four-year scholarship is worth. And despite her decommitting from UNC and eschewing her collegiate eligibility, UNC’s women’s soccer coach, Anson Dorrance, has no hard feelings. Via the Times:

“We knew what was in the water, and we have no issue with this,” Dorrance said about Moultrie’s decision. “We lost a great player to the professional ranks, and we totally support that, if the financial incentives are good.”

Moultrie’s father, K.C., told the New York Times last year that for someone like his daughter, playing in college doesn’t make sense.

“I think if you’re truly, truly elite, if your goal is to be a world-class player and a pro and, in Olivia’s case, to be the best player in the world, there’s no way it’s better to play college than it is to play full time.”

But it’s not clear what comes next for Moultrie now. She’s just 13, too young to play anywhere professionally. FIFA rules prevent her from signing on with foreign clubs until she’s 18. The New York Times suggested that she could become a developmental player in the National Women’s Soccer League, and it looks like that might happen. The Oregonian reported on Monday that Moultrie will be joining the Portland Thorns developmental academy. But some of the same problems await her: She’ll still have to wait until she’s 18 to play professionally and the league may need to create new rules to allow a 13-year-old to join their organization.

Moultrie’s path is unclear, but she’s trying to secure her financial future in a sport where women make significantly less than men. Dorrance is still disappointed Moultrie won’t be joining the team at UNC, but said he believes that her trailblazing is a good development for women’s soccer. It’ll be a few years before anyone will know for sure.

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