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UNT soccer star heads to semi-pro team in Seattle

UNT soccer star heads to semi-pro team in Seattle

UNT soccer star heads to semi-pro team in Seattle
May 01
01:11 2014

John Lugo // Sports Editor

Mean Green soccer star defender Kelsey Hodges has signed a contract to play this summer with the Seattle Sounders of the W-League, a semi-professional soccer league.

Hodges, a graduating senior, will play her first game with the Sounders May 16 against the Vancouver Whitecaps as part of the team’s preseason schedule. The regular season schedule runs through July 13 and the playoffs through the end of July.

She sees playing at this level as an opportunity to gain more exposure and show that she’s ready kelseygraphicfor the National Women’s Soccer League, the largest professional league in the U.S.. Though she didn’t receive a paid contract, the team will take care of her living expenses while she’s in Seattle.

“It’ll be very different just because the environment’s different,” said Hodges, who has lived in Denton all her life. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about Seattle. I’m looking forward to it.”

Among all-time placements at UNT, Hodges ranks eighth in career goals (32), sixth in game-winning goals (10), fifth in starts (84) and second in total minutes among position players (7,174). She also won conference championships in 2011 and 2012, including when she scored the winning goal and blocked a potentially game-tying goal against the University of Denver in the 2011 Sun Belt Conference championship.

When she was in high school, Hodges emphasized wanting to go to a school outside of Denton to experience a new city, but now believes coming to UNT was one of the best decisions she’s made.

“It was such a great experience because I kind of had the best of both worlds,” Hodges said. “I was in my hometown and playing the sport that I love, and I got to wear the green jersey I grew up watching [players wear].”

Hodges said the opportunity in Seattle opened up when she received a call from Hubert Busby Jr., head coach and general manager of the Sounders. He knew she wanted make it to the NWSL, and after he heard great things about her from other coaches in the North Texas area, he let her know that the spot on his team was open to her if she wanted it.

“One thing I liked about her is that you can tell she’s leading by example. She can lead with her voice,” Busby said. “I got the impression that when Kelsey spoke, people listened – which is I think is fantastic and it shows that people and her teammates respect her.”

1_HodgesBusby also said Hodges has the one-on-one defense, mindset, determination and toughness to make it to the next level.

“She’s going to make plays and when people say ‘put your foot in where someone else won’t’ or ‘put your head where someone else wouldn’t dare to,’ those are the things I saw in her,” Busby said. “She’s incredibly brave, but not reckless.”

Senior defender Allison Guderian shared the same sentiment about Hodges being a true leader. The two met in their freshman years at UNT and she said her leadership skills have improved tremendously over the years.

“She led our back line, played 90 minutes almost every single game,” Guderian said. “She was definitely that rock in the back the team needed and was someone that we could kind of lean on when we were having trouble as a group or individually.”

Guderian said Hodges did a great job of keeping everyone on the right track and serving as a motivator when needed. A close friend to Hodges, she also said it’s really great to see someone she knows well pursuing her dream and making the next step.

“She definitely has dedication to the game and she has the right mindset going into it,” Guderian said. “I think she’s going to do a really great job over there, I’m happy for her.”

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 6.47.29 PM

Hodges has been with the Mean Green every Thursday during spring practices to help keep the rust off and also provide a veteran presence to the team. She expects the team to improve and still go far next semester.

“Our defense is still very strong and I wasn’t expecting that cause we lost four starters in that spot,” she said. “It’ll be a very different group but I think they’ll do very well.”

Right: Graphic by Natalie Vosberg / Copy Assistant 

Left photo: Senior defender Kelsey Hodges scored nine goals for the UNT Mean Green during the 2013 season, totaling 32 goals in her career. Photo by Zixian Chen / Senior Staff Photographer

Bottom photo: Senior defender Kelsey Hodges tries to maintain control of the ball against a Charlotte Forty Niner opponent at Mean Green Village Soccer Field on Oct. 13, 2013. Photo courtesy of Rick Yeatts

Feature photo: Senior defender Kelsey Hodges has been signed, pending league approval, by the Seattle Sounders Women to play professionally in 2014 for the W-League. Photo by Zixian Chen / Senior Staff Photographer

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