Sept. 3, 2008
DeKALB, Ill. - Former Northern Illinois women's soccer standout and current assistant coach Christie Ehrhardt will participate in a draft combine for the launch of Women's Professional Soccer (WPS). Ehrhardt was among the 128 players invited to the Sept. 4-7 workouts in Tampa.
Ehrhardt, in her first season on the Huskie coaching staff, was a four-year lettewinner and Huskie Scholar from 2002-05 and spent her final two seasons as team captain.
Joining Ehrhardt is at the combine is another former Huskie standout, Katie (Klaas) Eriksson, who played from 2000-03 and ranks sixth on the NIU career points list and eighth in goals.
Both Ehrhardt (Chicago Gaels) and Klaas (Fort Collins Force) played in the W-League, the highest level women's league in the nation.
"Playing at a higher level and gaining more experience allows you to see the game differently," said head coach Carrie Barker of her assistant coach. "This opportunity also allows younger players to see an NIU alum gain recognition in the professional ranks. They see that successful players can come from all over and that success here can hopefully continue in a pro league."
The mission of Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) is to be the premier women's soccer league in the world and the global standard by which women's professional sports are measured. Play kicks off in the spring of 2009, with WPS teams based in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Jersey/New York, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C. The league will expand to eight teams by 2010 with the inclusion of Philadelphia.
The elite players at the combine will be displaying their talent for WPS and other professional scouts and coaches during the four-day event at the Ed Radice Sports Complex.
"It will be a good opportunity for me to continue playing professionally," said Ehrhardt. "There will be a lot of women out there competing and the combine should help get the new league noticed. Hopefully some of us gain experience and get drafted."
With many current and former internationals, as well as collegiate standouts, it is expected that numerous players drafted and signed by WPS will hail from the W-League. Historically, the same occurred with the launch of the Women's United Soccer Association in 2001. A total of 92 current and former W-League players were allocated or drafted by the WUSA leading up to the first of its three seasons.
"The W-League has successfully harvested many of the nation's best female soccer talent for years, growing the sport and priming these athletes for professional stardom," said Tonya Antonucci, Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) commissioner. "We applaud their accomplishments as we work in close partnership with the league in identifying and showcasing W-League talent to further raise the profile of women's soccer culminating in the launch of Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) in 2009."
For more information on the new league, visit www.womensprosoccer.com.