KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KSNT) – One former Jayhawk soccer player recently went from playing at KU to competing on the big stage in Kansas City.
The KC Current drafted midfielder Rylan Childers with the No. 42 overall pick in the NWSL draft on Jan. 12. For the recent KU grad, life since then has been a dream come true.
“The draft kind of caught me off guard a little bit,” Childers said. “Obviously I knew I had registered for it, but I wasn’t necessarily expecting to hear my name be called, and especially not to Kansas City. A lot of excitement and a lot of nerves knowing this is just the beginning.”
Childers remembers exactly where she was when she got the call.
“A few of my siblings got to be home and my parents were there,” Childers said. “And so we just had it up on the TV and we were watching, so that was fun. And then, I got to hear my name get called.”
“She was sitting on the couch and didn’t really move or do anything, and the family was all jumping around,” KU soccer head coach Mark Francis said. “But Rylan is very even-keel, and I think one of the reasons why she’s so calm on the field is because that’s her personality. But I was super excited for her and look forward to seeing how she does.”
Francis said Childers’ productivity during her super-senior season this past year put her in perfect position to get drafted. In 2022, she started all 20 games, scoring seven goals and racking up six assists.
Childers played at UMKC for two years before transferring to Kansas, where she flourished on the field and ultimately earned the chance to play for Kansas City. For the hometown kid from Grain Valley, Missouri, staying local goes far beyond playing soccer.
“Big shoes to fill,” Childers said. “I’m actually representing my city from a professional level, and so really excited to see what that looks like but also excited to get involved in the community in a way I haven’t been able to before. And so, yeah, excitement and eagerness to get started.”
The National Women’s Soccer League is relatively young, having only existed since 2012, while the KC Current franchise wasn’t established until 2020. Playing professionally is an opportunity many female soccer players haven’t had before, and Childers is just the fifth Jayhawk to ever be selected in the draft.
“There was no league back in those days,” Francis said. “So players that could have gone to go play didn’t have the opportunities to do so. So I think now that there are those opportunities, players like Rylan have the ability and desire to do that. I think it’s awesome those opportunities are there, and if you do the work like Rylan has, you can reap the benefits of that.”
The KC Current kicks off its season against the North Carolina Courage on March 25.