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North Texas graduate Rachel Holden starting pro soccer career with FC Dallas Women

North Texas graduate Rachel Holden starting pro soccer career with FC Dallas Women

Mean Green Soccer Aluma Rachel Holden now plays forward for FC Dallas Women, a semi-professional soccer team that is a part of the WPSL.

North Texas graduate Rachel Holden starting pro soccer career with FC Dallas Women
April 26
19:52 2017

When Rachel Holden returned to the Mean Green soccer complex a couple weekends ago, she jogged out onto the perfectly green pitch just as she did for four years.

Except this time, she was wearing a different jersey.

Instead of North Texas green, Holden was wearing red. Instead of her Mean Green teammates, Holden was warming up with several fresh faces.

After graduating in December, the speedy forward found a home in semi-professional soccer with FCD Women – Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas women’s affiliate. She was unsure if she would play pro soccer after college, but an opportunity with FCD came calling, and Holden answered.

A flexible schedule and an understanding coach in Ben Waldrum allowed Holden to hold a job and still play the game she loved.

“It was something I went back and forth with,” Holden said. “It’s been good so far. I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into at first. But I really am excited for the opportunity and excited to be a part of this program.”

FCD has been playing colleges as a part of its pre-season, and took the stop in Denton 1-0. Holden did not score, but she did see the field.

She also got to see several familiar faces.

“I thought it was a great game,” Holden said. “I was excited. It was god to see everyone again. It was good to see the coaches, John [Hedlund] and everything. I’m glad we won, but it was good to be back on that field.”

Holden was a stand-out in her four years at North Texas. She was part of four conference tournament teams and helped the Mean Green win the tournament in 2015. She scored 38 career goals, good enough for sixth all-time in program history.

Not only did she score goals, she helped produce them too. Her illustrious career closed with three conference champion rings to her name, and a legacy that head coach John Hedlund won’t forget.

To see her go pro was just the icing on the cake.

“It’s a great feeling for me,” Hedlund said. “She has been a tremendous player for this program and won so many championships as well. She performed and won accolades in both conferences we were [in]. There’s no question that she is a kid that will be in the hall of fame here someday.”

FCD Women plays its soccer in the second division of women’s soccer in America in the Women’s Professional Soccer League. The team is still a new concept. It is entering just its second season after a successful inaugural campaign in 2016.

The club went undefeated in its first regular season before bowing out in the national semi-finals. Holden is no stranger to success thanks to her time at North Texas, one reason why Waldrum was so keen on signing her.

But Holden is not the first North Texas player Waldrum has ever coached.

In 2003, Waldrum coached Mean Green Hall of Famer Marlyn Marin during his time with the Fort Wayne Fever.

“UNT has produced some wonderfully talented players throughout coach Hedlund’s tenure,” Waldrum said. “When you consistently win your conference and have an opportunity to compete in the NCAA tournament, you are doing something right.”

Waldrum believes that with time, Holden could have an opportunity to pursue a full-time professional path in soccer, whether it be overseas or in America. The National Women’s Soccer League, the top division of women’s soccer in America, is expanding, and has plans to expand even more in 2018.

This means more opportunities for Holden – a goal-scoring forward with plenty of pace.

And Waldrum is looking forward to helping develop her.

“Rachel has no fear getting into a great tackle,” Waldrum said. “Her qualities fit the way we want to approach the game tactically. I hope that I can contribute to Rachel’s game in being more dangerous in her movement, timing of runs and how to create her own space for others.”

Although Texas has just one NWSL team, the Houston Dash, Hedlund believes the infrastructure is in place to eventually house a team somewhere in North Texas.

But for now, Holden is focused on the present – and soccer.

“I’m trying to not put too much pressure on myself,” Holden said. “[Waldrum] knows what he’s doing and has a lot of very good players. I try to make as much of a good impact as I can in anyway that I can.”

Featured Image: Mean Green Soccer Aluma Rachel Holden now plays forward for FC Dallas Women, a semi-professional soccer team that is a part of the WPSL. Sara Carpenter

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Clay Massey

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