It’s been five days since Trinity Rodman became the youngest player ever drafted by the National Women’s Soccer League, and the 18-year-old is preparing for her room at Washington State University in Pullman.
In her spare time, she is a passionate artist. Her artwork still hangs on the walls behind her, and her mother, Michelle Moyer, goes in and out to pack her bags. After the tumultuous announcement of their joining the project on the 13th. January and subsequent selection as an overall second choice, all of this seems strangely normal.
Following her father’s successful NBA career, news of Dennis Rodman’s daughter’s entry into the 2021 NWSL draft spread like wildfire on social media. Even the most inattentive sports fans paid attention, and much of Trinity’s true story was missed as people remembered the former Rodman’s antics on and off the field.
While she understands the hype and says there are similarities in the way they approach the sport – their competition, aggression and drive are traits she chooses – he’s also just her dad. When ESPN launched an episode of The Last Dance about Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls season (Dennis Rodman’s last year with the Bulls), Trinity said she didn’t watch much because she kept falling asleep.
– Trinity Rodman makes history, selected No. 2 in theNWSL project.
I don’t even find it incomprehensible that such a famous person, who has been successful on television and talks to so many people, would talk to ESPN about his father, a five-time NBA champion. He was obviously a very good athlete and I think he inspired a lot of people. He was a great player on the field, and just knowing that I have a father that can talk to so many people and have a story that maybe few people expect is a wonderful thing.
Either way, Trinity Rodman will be the first. February to join the Washington Spirit pre-season camp and hopefully begin a new legacy of Rodman’s name in professional sports.
I think the hardest part is always comparing yourself and expecting to be as legendary as he is, Rodman says. In the future, it will be nice not to be separated, but to be able to distinguish: Yes, he was a successful NBA player, but I will be a successful NWSL player.
Trinity Rodman’s love of soccer began when she was just 4 years old, and although she has picked up every sport imaginable – even soccer, which her brother DJ begged her to play – she has always returned to soccer.
To be honest, I realized early on that I was going to be there for a while, because if my team didn’t really try – if there was one person on my team who didn’t try, for example – I would get really angry and I would say I wasn’t bothering: Come on, come on, she says.
Even when I was 7 years old, I got mad at [people who don’t try].
Rodman’s early affinity for football led her to the Southern California Blues, where she met coach Greg Baker. He was the person, Rodman says, she could turn to if she had a problem with her gambling, giving her honest and sometimes hard-to-hear advice on how to fix it. The two have developed a strong relationship over the past eight years, and Rodman says that without him, she wouldn’t be the player she is today.
I think the most important thing for me was to take her criticism and not take it personally, she says. Think of him as trying to make us better. He really helped me become the player I am.
Trinity Rodman was a star of the U-20 women’s team, but now that she has turned pro, realizing her dream with the senior team is next on her list. Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images
Baker tells ESPN that Rodman was a shy and respectful guy with a hard shell. Based on conversations with his mother and exchanges with Trinity herself, Baker said he knew he had to work to earn her trust. The relationship between player and coach has developed, as has their trust. He quickly saw their creativity – a word that comes up often when talking about Rodman – on the field. He knew she had to be challenged if she wanted to reach her full potential.
She’s a great athlete. Point, Baker says. If you want to play basketball with her, if you want to play tennis with her, she can do all these things very quickly and very easily.
You have to challenge this type of player in a very different way than the others. Then our bond became strong, because I gave him several technical things that none of the other players knew, and I just said to him: Look, you have to do this, this and the other today, because what we were working on, I knew would be too easy for her.
Although she was never a captain, Baker says Rodman was the kind of player who led by example; she knew when it was time to push herself and work hard, but she also enjoyed having a good time with the people around her.
It’s important to me that it’s fun, Rodman says. I think if you can make things fun, and if you exercise and work hard and try to have fun, you’ll never be bored. I think if you take it too seriously and put too much pressure on yourself, you’ll get over it too quickly.
According to Baker, Rodman is the complete package. He mentions her name in passing with that of the great American Mia Hamm, two-time World Cup winner, but he criticizes that he regrets that Trinity wasn’t a little more selfish in her game: She can take control of the game if she wants to.
In the eight years Rodman played for Baker and the Blues, she won four national championships, two regional crowns, two state titles, five national Elite League conference championships, four Surf Cups, a tournament usually involving the top junior teams in the country, and more than 30 tournament victories during her growing career with the national under-20 team.
Trinity Rodman tells Sebastian Salazar what she expects from her first season with The Washington Spirit.
Washington State coach Todd Schulenberger was also impressed. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Rodman was never able to play for the College as his 2020 season was cancelled, but recruiting and preparation allowed Schulenberger to get a front row seat to see his potential. One of her first interactions with Trinity occurred when she was called onto the field as they had just reached the final four of the NCAA Women’s College Cup. As part of the test, he gave her a sound test – a multi-stage fitness test that uses shuttle buses to measure a player’s fitness threshold – against the rest of the team, and she came out on top. Baker says she could have done much better that day.
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At one point, she made sure to check the signal with everyone present, Schulenberger explains. So at 17-18, and our whole team played at a high level, it’s pretty impressive. She has the mindset that I win every time. Super competitive.
She’s a great person, and she runs the field. She is very athletic and was at a high level in the game with the U-20 [USWNT] group, so she understands the tactics [of the game]. She’s as fast as me. She likes to attack players.
While the cancellation of the 2020 Pac-12 season was a huge disappointment for Rodman, she probably wouldn’t have made the decision to go pro without it. She couldn’t wait to play again when she was at home. Baker describes how Rodman ironically spoke of “going pro,” and conversations with her mother and brother, two of her closest confidants, only confirmed that she knew what she wanted.
They [her mother and brother] knew my heart and my journey was very fast, she says.
I thought the earlier you can get to a higher level, the better, and I think it’s good for young players to go earlier [to the pros] because it gives young players a chance to learn.
Rodman, photographed at the top of the ball, is already part of the internationally ranked U.S. junior ranks, but will soon have his first outing as a senior. Buda Mendes – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images
Despite the media hype surrounding him, Rodman is well entrenched in his career. When asked if she’d rather have goals or help, she opts for the latter and smiles: She knows it’s a great choice for a striker, but she sees it as an advantage to her game. After joining the pros, she realizes she won’t be joining her new team alone.
I certainly expect a whole new level. I’m going to really understand my first practice, especially the first game I’m in, she said.
My goal is just to grow as a person, as a player, as a teammate, as a colleague – very simple. My biggest goal is to develop as a player, to adapt to my teammates and to develop my style of football.
When talking about her own style of play, she says Kristen Press, two-time world champion and Manchester United striker, is a player she admires. Decision pressure and the ability to get into the penalty area at the right time to score are two skills she hopes to develop.
I admire a lot of people in USWNT, but I think one of the players I had that connection with or just admired was Kristen Press, she adds.
I think we play a little bit the same way because I feel like we make a lot of decisions, score goals and go into the penalty area at the last minute.
If you can make those decisions in an 18-foot box or even a 20-foot box, it’s crazy. When you look at these players who can think so quickly and you can see that all their thoughts are in their head when they’re on the ball, it’s crazy and I can’t wait to get to that point.
When she was hired, Rodman was immediately kissed by her mother, who gave her a Team Trin hat (patent pending), and she regularly calls her brother her best friend on social media. Add to that an array of coaches, from U-20 coach Laura Harvey to Baker, who openly tell her she deserves greatness, and it’s easy to see why she felt it was another logical step on her path to enter the NWSL at such a young age.
While a USWNT senior cap and an Olympic medal are on her to-do list, she is currently focusing on adjusting to her new reality and writing her own history.
I never say I’m proud of myself…. I have a tendency to criticize myself…. but when my name was mentioned, I thought Wow, I made it here. I’m really proud of myself and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and what I’m going to be.