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Latter-day Saint Soccer Star Becomes Youngest Player in NWSL History

Latter-day Saint soccer player Olivia Moultrie, shown in this file photo competing for a youth U.S. National Team, became the youngest player in the history of the National Women’s Soccer League on June 30, 2021. Photo by K.C. Moultrie, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

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By Jason Swensen, Church News.

The last time the Church News caught up with Latter-day Saint teen/soccer phenom Olivia Moultrie, the then 13-year-old was snagging headlines after inking an endorsement with Nike.

Two years later, she’s back in the news.

Several media outlets with global followings — including ESPN, CNN and Sports Illustrated — reported on Wednesday, June 30, that Moultrie had signed a multi-year deal with the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), one of the world’s premier women’s professional soccer leagues.

That makes the affable young Church member with GIF-worthy “fútbol” skills a history maker. Moultrie is the youngest player to ever sign with an NWSL squad.

Now 15, the California native is anxious for the attention to shift to her tenure in a Thorns uniform competing against some of the world’s top pros.

“Every coach has always told me there’s a lot you can do in training, but where you really grow and mature as a player is in games,” Moultrie said in an ESPN report. “And for that to finally be here, for me to take that next step and just continue to grow as a player, like I said multiple times it’s just very exciting, and I know this is where I’ll be able to grow the most.”

Olivia Moultrie credits her faith and her family for keeping her grounded as she pursues her soccer dreams. Photo by K.C. Moultrie, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

Portland coach Mark Parsons spoke of his young midfielder’s remarkable talent. He’s been involved in her development over the past two years.

“Olivia has continued to grow and push forward throughout her time here and has taken every challenge and turned it into an opportunity,” he said.

As the Church News reported, Moultrie first made news in the soccer community when, at 11, she verbally committed to play at the University of North Carolina, an elite women’s college soccer program led by legendary coach (and Church convert) Anson Dorrance.

She has also represented the United States in international competition and has trained with top-level boys at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

Moultrie told the Church News in 2019 that she was grateful for her family and faith that keep her anchored — even amid the challenges of being a pro athlete.

“We always say in our family — ‘It’s faith. Then family. Then soccer.’ That’s what means more to me than anything. That’s what always comes first, and I just try to be the best person I can possibly be,” she said.

Moultrie comes from an athletic family. Both of her parents competed in intercollegiate sports. Her father, K.C., played basketball, and her mother, Jessica, was a college soccer player. Some sort of ball is always bouncing about the Moultrie household.

K.C. Moultrie told the Church News that his eldest daughter’s Church membership offers unique opportunities beyond sports.

“We tell Olivia, ‘You have two responsibilities: First, to love and be accepting and treat everyone with kindness. And second, never be afraid of what you believe,’” he said.

Moultrie made her pro debut on Saturday, July 3, when the Thorns played Racing Louisville.

Copyright 2021 Deseret News Publishing Company

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