Player Spotlight: USL W League Sydney Stephens

Welcome to the 2023 Player Spotlight for USL W League’s Sydney Stephens from the University of Illinois!


Sydney, where have you played youth soccer and college?

Started playing when I was 3 at a club in St. Louis. I played at that same club (St. Louis Scott Gallagher) for my whole life and only played high school soccer (Waterloo High School) one year.

I would have played two but covid stopped my senior year a little short. I committed to the University of Georgia my sophomore year of high school. I played one year at the University of Georgia and transferred to the University of Illinois. I have been at Illinois for 2 seasons now under head coach Janet Rayfield. Going into my 3rd year at Illinois this upcoming fall.

What is your most memorable moment as a soccer player?

Going to Leelanau Michigan with my college team during preseason. The people I’m surrounded with mean the most to me. My team means the most to me and spending a week with them there was very special.


How are you feeling about being #6 nationally ranked in the USL W?

For starters I think it’s cool. A lot of times for summer league teams players aren’t as motived to do well in their leagues knowing they have other seasons and things to be preparing for but Oly is different. This group of girls is different. There’s a lot of passionate players who want to do well. I think we are feeling confident going into the second half of the season. Our goal is to be top 5 in the USLW so I don’t think we are satisfied yet. There’s more work to be put in and we know that.

What do you think of about the USL W League?

It gives a lot of hope for the future of female soccer. It shows our commitment as a country to developing players at the youth and collegiate level. The league expanding is just an opportunity to bring in more competitive players.

The key to the USLW seasons is the offer to continue competition outside of our collegiate environments which does nothing but improve the level of soccer at this level nationwide.


What’s life like outside of soccer these days?

Seattle has everything! I often adventure or hike and explore this area of the country. I have a very long bucket list of things to do I’m crossing off daily. I’ve done everything from take a visit to Pike’s place to the rainforest to the beach to the mountains. All the while making sure I am preparing for my season this fall.

What’s it like in the lockerroom with this USL W team?

Vibes are high, we got pretty close quickly which is super special and unique. Things like pregame music/dance parties in the locker room you don’t always see on a summer team but this team embraces it.

What’s it like playing for Head Coach Chris Wells and Assistant Coach Rachel Ross?

Chris and Rachel have a dedication to the development of the players on Oly. They are extremely accommodating and willing to try anything for a good game plan. You look for flexibility for summer programs and they have it. They look for different ways for us to play an opponent and push our knowledge of the game.


What is your advice for young girls in soccer?

If you have a dream to be a professional athlete, you really only get one chance to do it. Now’s that chance. I think it might be cliche but if you can dream it you can do it, no doubt in my mind. Especially with the way womens soccer is progressing there is more than one way to play professionally.

There are so many different routes you can take to get there. Though I’m talking about soccer specifically it can be generalized to just about anything. Your route might look different from someone else’s but that doesn’t make it any less. Follow your dreams.

Thank you Sydney!!!

Catch Sydney Stephens tonight, June 30th at 7PM at South Sound Stadium in Olympia, Washington. Tickets on-sale at Her and the USL W Artesians play again Sunday at 4PM against CFC Atletica.

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