Viewers who paid close attention to Nike’s all-women “Dream Crazier” ad, which debuted during Sunday’s Academy Awards and features Serena Williams, might have noticed a young-looking soccer player toward the end, gazing calmly and confidently at the camera. As it turns out, that soccer player is indeed young, but at age 13 she already has turned professional.
Oh, and Olivia Moultrie is now officially on the Nike roster, but she won’t be wearing the swoosh while playing for the University of North Carolina. In turning pro, she is giving up the soccer scholarship from the Tar Heels she accepted at the tender age of 11, but her father is confident that it’s the right call.
“For literally almost every kid in girls’ soccer, you should go to college; there are not a million dollars at the end of the rainbow,” K.C. Moultrie told the New York Times in a story published Monday. “I think if you’re truly, truly elite if your goal is to be a world-class player and a pro and, in Olivia’s case, to be the best player in the world, there’s no way it’s better to play college than it is to play full time.”
View this post on Instagram
Moultrie’s agent, Spencer Wadsworth of the Wasserman sports agency, told the Times that her Nike deal was worth more than the value of a four-year scholarship to a school such as UNC. Having been the youngest girls’ soccer player to publicly accept a college scholarship, she is now the youngest to pass it up in favor of the pro ranks.
It’s not exactly clear what kind of organized soccer Moultrie, who has also given up high school and youth club eligibility, will be playing for the next few years, apart from participation on a rung of the U.S. national program.
The Oregonian reported Monday that she was set to move from her native California to Portland to become a developmental player for the Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League, but the league’s rules indicate that athletes must be at least 18 to compete.
According to the Times, FIFA rules make going to a soccer club in Europe unlikely before Moultrie turns 18, as well. She trained with a few of that continent’s giants last year, including Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, where (per the Times) she ended up playing against the French club’s under-17 boys’ team.
— Wasserman (@Wasserman) February 25, 2019
“I always told her, ‘Be good at everything.’ Whether it’s juggling, skills, agility, street, futsal, grass or pitch,” he continued. “Don’t ever be comfortable with just one thing and shy away from not being able to play futsal or street because you’re not ‘that type of player.’ ”
“I really became passionate about soccer when my dad and I made the decision to start working as hard as I do now,” Moultrie, who has been home-schooled since the fifth-grade to give her more time to train, said in 2017. “When I started treating every day as an opportunity and training to be a professional, I really fell in love with the process of trying to become great.”
13-year-old Olivia Moultrie turns pro, will sign a contract with Nike
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 26, 2019
Turning pro at a young age isn’t all that unusual for top talents among boys; 15-year-old Leo Torres, for instance, signed this month with the USL’s San Antonio FC. The U.S. national team’s Christian Pulisic signed with Germany’s Borussia Dortmund in 2015 at the age of 16, and Freddy Adu was famously just 14 when D.C. United took him first overall in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft.
With a push from Nike, it’s safe to say that Moultrie has reached child-star status. It remains to be seen if she continues to show dominant ability as an adult, be it in Portland or elsewhere, but the 13-year-old has already made her mark as a trailblazer.