The Spirit furnishes the essentials: an apartment in a new complex that houses most of the players and a roommate who the club figured would be a good fit for the 18-year-old forward.
“It’s a perfect match,” Rodman’s mother, Michelle Moyer, said of goalkeeper Devon Kerr.
Rodman — whose father, Dennis, is a Basketball Hall of Famer — was the second pick in the National Women’s Soccer League draft Jan. 13. She is the second prominent American to skip college soccer for the 10-team pro women’s circuit. Four years ago, Mallory Pugh, then 19, departed UCLA to join the Spirit. Pugh is now with the Chicago Red Stars.
Because Rodman, a U.S. national team prospect who left college after one semester, is the youngest player in NWSL history, the Spirit also saw fit to provide a mentor and life coach. The club turned to Briana Scurry, a World Cup champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist and Hall of Famer.
“It’s a great thing to have a support system and the comfortability because a lot of the time you’re going to be isolated and alone,” Rodman said. “The support is going to make it a lot easier.”
When Rodman needs personal or professional advice, an escape from team circles or a hearty meal, Scurry and her family will open their arms and their Alexandria home.
“Sometimes when you have a young talent making the leap to a higher level, it’s not really the talent but the support system that allows them to be the best they can be on the pitch,” Scurry said. “Sometimes it’s about the environment they’re in.”
Scurry, 49, and Rodman did not immediately meet upon her arrival. The Spirit gave Rodman time to get settled before training camp, which is scheduled to open Tuesday in Leesburg after snowy weather canceled Monday’s first practice. There are also pandemic concerns.
The organization, though, has set the framework for what it believes will ease the transition and allow her to thrive.
“She has huge potential, and we want to make sure we do all we can to help her reach her dreams and provide a great experience,” Spirit owner Steve Baldwin said.
Before entering the NWSL, most players complete four seasons of college soccer or arrive from pro environments abroad. Rodman accelerated her pro path by leaving Washington State midway through her freshman year. Because the pandemic bumped the season from fall to spring, she never appeared in an NCAA match.
Baldwin, a tech executive who purchased a majority stake in the club before the 2019 season, hatched the Rodman-Scurry plan this summer. At the time, Rodman wanted to skip college altogether. The Spirit was among the teams interested in her. Baldwin spoke with Rodman and her mother multiple times.
The league, however, said Rodman would have to enter the draft. While she was in school, the Spirit made plans for her possible arrival this winter. After Racing Louisville, an expansion team, drafted North Carolina senior defender Emily Fox with the first pick, the Spirit claimed the U.S. under-20 national team star.
In preparing for a young player, Baldwin drew from his experience with his daughter, Carlyn, a Flint Hill graduate who left the University of Tennessee in 2017 after three seasons to play in Switzerland, then sign with Sporting Lisbon in Portugal.
“We looked at things we could do for players in terms of their career and personal development,” Baldwin said. “We were looking at a holistic approach in supporting Trinity.”
The Spirit approached Scurry this past summer. She was no stranger to the organization, having served as an assistant coach in 2018.
“For all the rookies, I will be there for them, but Trinity in particular because she is so young,” Scurry said. “It would really be a shame if she didn’t feel she could grow and become whatever blooming talent she is going to be.”
Scurry’s involvement resonated with Moyer.
“It’s really nice to have someone there, to be able to mentor her, someone to look up to,” Moyer said. “It’s great it’s a soccer player. In all ways, it’s great for her to have that support.”
Moyer raised Trinity and a son, DJ, who plays basketball at Washington State. She said she thought about relocating here from Southern California for a year or two, “but then I thought, ‘Let her spread her wings and do what she has got to do.’ I’ve got to let her do this. I know she can handle it, especially with the support from the people behind the scenes.”
Though she was born almost three years after Scurry’s heroics in the 1999 World Cup final at the Rose Bowl, Rodman said she appreciates Scurry’s place in U.S. soccer history — as a player and trailblazer. In 2017, Scurry became the first female goalkeeper and the first Black woman inducted to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
“[Having] a woman of color as my mentor is great,” said Rodman, who is biracial. “She can tell me what she has been through and how to handle certain situations. I am going to learn a lot, especially when it comes to diversity and color.”
Scurry and her wife, Chryssa Zizos, have two teenage step-children. Scurry is on the public speaking circuit and working on an autobiography while also trying to shine light on concussions after they ended her career in 2010.
“Everything about Bri — her character, her demeanor, her thoughtfulness, her intelligence, her experience — seemed to be a great fit for a young player like Trinity,” Baldwin said.
The Spirit, Scurry said, is better prepared for Rodman than it was for Pugh. “Unfortunately, when Mal arrived, the support system wasn’t there and it was hard to catch up,” she added.
Pugh made the 2019 World Cup team but has been traded twice in the past year.
“Having someone show me the ropes and tell me how to handle things, how to act and what mind-set to have,” Rodman said, “is a great thing.”
Moyer had plans to return home soon, leaving her daughter to Scurry and the Spirit.
“I can feel good about walking away,” Moyer said. “She is in good hands.”