Reign FC midfielder Morgan Andrews has had to make many transitions in her time as an athlete: between colleges, between professional clubs and even from the pitch to the gridiron. During those times of change, Andrews says that communities of support have helped shape her into the athlete that she has become today.
That sense of community development has been with Andrews from her earliest days as a youth player on the east coast.
Growing up in Milford, New Hampshire, Andrews first fell in love with soccer after watching her brothers play. Her earliest immersion into a supportive soccer community were in pickup games that sprung up around Milford and drew players of all ages and cultures to the pitch.
“It’s the different cultures (that made pickup so special),” Andrews said. “You don’t pay to play pickup. You work with what you’re given, whether it’s the car headlights that are lighting the pitch that night or if you are able to find out where the lights are. That’s how you play. Playing with different people and not always the people you’d regularly see on a daily basis going to work or school with. People from all different walks of life coming together to have fun and play a little soccer.”
Andrews credits her time playing pickup and her earliest days of youth soccer playing against boys for her tenacity and creative flair.
“I started off playing organized boys’ soccer because it was acceptable for the boys to be gritty and angry on the field and show off their skills and creativity,” Andrews said. “It was okay to play pissed off. That’s something that girls weren’t really allowed to be—at least when I was starting out. It wasn’t okay to be angry on the field or to show emotion. I learned to play with a little bit of bite from playing with the boys, because it was really only acceptable in that sort of environment.”
The self-expression possible in pickup games rubbed off on Andrews as well. Even today, the midfielder likes to try different tricks during warm-ups, showcasing a variety of creative skills to keep her centered before the opening whistle.
“I really like to do that stuff before a game just to get a feel for the ball and kind of take the nerves down, because I do still get nervous before I play,” Andrews said. “That helps remind me of why I started. It all comes back to the creativity of it.”
As she moved into high school, Andrews found herself making another transition from the pitch to the football field. After years of encouragement from teachers and coaches, Andrews became the kicker for the Milford High School football team, acting as the place-kicker.
“I would go from school to soccer practice to football practice,” Andrews said. “Then I’d either have my individual soccer practice or club training after that.
“High school was busy,” she added, laughing.
Andrews cited her support from friends, families and coaches in her push for excellence. In the tight-knit Milford community, Andrews said the tremendous level of support she received—even joining the football team—gave her the confidence to push forward.
Andrews continued to impress on the soccer pitch. She was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2012 and 2013. Having first started with the U.S. Women’s National Team U14s, she was called into a U.S. WNT U23 camp at the age of 16 in 2011.
Making another big change in 2015, Andrews transferred to the USC from Notre Dame. As a senior in 2016, she helped the Trojans win the NCAA College Cup, before being drafted third overall by the Boston Breakers the following January, where she got to play 52 miles from her hometown.
Following her rookie season, the Breakers ceased operations and the then-22-year-old was selected by Reign FC with the 11th overall pick.
Again, a transition had introduced an opportunity for perseverance.
“I found out I was coming to Reign FC only two weeks before preseason started,” Andrews said. “The adjustment was learning that I wasn’t going to be near home anymore. I was from New England. I had been playing in front of a home crowd. The biggest adjustment was just accepting that I’m going to go wherever the game takes me.”
Andrews says that her grit and her love for creative play helped her feel right at home with Reign FC.
“This organization has a different vibe to it, where you are accepted for who you are as long as you return the favor,” Andrews said. “As long as you put forth the work ethic, you will always have a spot here. I think that made the adjustment easy.”
For a player who has had to undergo so many transitions in her playing career, the most recent one from Memorial Stadium to Cheney has been nothing too troubling for the midfielder. Thanks to the same kind of community support that encouraged her as a young athlete, Andrews knows the club can thrive in the South Sound.
“This latest transition, I don’t know how to rank them, but this has been one of the easiest transitions so far,” Andrews said. “The community has been really accepting and the organization has done a good job of making the move very smooth. There are really no complaints. It’s been really nice having such supportive fans. We’ve had quite a few people show up to games lately. They’re loud and I love it. That’s what makes soccer so exciting; when a community can come together and rally for a team.”
For Andrews, engagement with—and by—a community is what makes soccer so special for fans and players alike.
“I’m a true believer that we as people are products of our environment,” Andrews said. “Not only athletes, but when you’re growing up as a kid, who you’re around is building you into who you’re going to be. It’s the same thing when we step on the field. Our community, with their support and their presence, they’re making us better players. We want to compete for those who support us. The fans are so much bigger than what they think they are. They’re truly helping us build this organization into who we want to be. We’re forever evolving. We want to be better every day as a team and as an organization. With their help, we’re only going to get better. I want to get out into the community and get to know the fans more because I think it will only make us better. I want to be better every day and I know that every single person on this team wants that too. The community helps with that.”