Backline Soccer recently had the chance to catch up with Rose Lavelle, the first pick in the 2017 NWSL draft. Lavelle, drafted out of Wisconsin and a member of the USWNT, was taken by the Boston Breakers. We asked what her thoughts were on the new NWSL/Lifetime TV deal, her experience at the draft, and what she’s looking forward to this season with Boston.
Backline Soccer: How important do you feel a 3-year TV deal with Lifetime is for the league right now?
Rose Lavelle: I think it’s huge. I think it shows that there is somebody committed to helping grow the league and helping grow soccer. I think it’s big to have a such a prestigious network [like Lifetime] on board. Then, I also think it’s kinda cool that it’s not a traditional sports network. It might be a little bit different of a partnership, but I don’t think different is bad. I think it could actually work in their favor and draw a different crowd than a traditional sports network would. It’s a really exciting time and I’m glad that for my first year in the league I’m going to be able to experience that.
BS: There have been a few people who have expressed their reservations regarding the TV deal being on Lifetime as opposed to a true sports channel. What would you say to someone who has these concerns?
RL: Well, I was lucky enough to be there [in New York] yesterday, but I think anyone who watched the press conference saw that Nancy [Dubuc], the CEO of A&E, seems really committed to, not just growing the women’s game, but just overall expanding the women’s brand. I think having somebody like that who is so confident in expanding the women’s brand and women’s soccer and can be invested in that is really cool. Just seeing that in person made me very confident that this is going to work out and be something that’s really good for the league.
BS: Looking back on the draft and being the number one pick, what was that experience like for you?
RL: It was really cool. I didn’t really know what to expect because I obviously hadn’t been there before, but it was really cool. It was way bigger than I thought it was going to be. It was such a humbling experience. Obviously the pool of players was incredible, so to be on top of that was really cool and I’m obviously very excited to be joining the Breakers.
BS: In regards to the Breakers, what are you looking forward to with them and what are some positives from last season that you’re excited to build upon in 2017?
RL: I actually got to watch a lot of NWSL games last season and I know they obviously didn’t do that well last season, but after talking with Matt [Beard], I feel really confident going into this season because I think he’s made a lot of changes. I think last year being his first year, he definitely now has a feel for it and knows what he wants. I think the changes that he’s made in the off season and now knowing what he’s looking for in a team and in individual players, it’s something that I’m really excited about. I think Boston will definitely be a force to be reckoned with this season. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.
BS: Do you feel like the different rules and level of play in college vs. pro women’s soccer make it difficult for rookies to transition?
RL: I think anytime you’re transitioning to a new team, it’s going to be difficult and it might pose different challenges. That might be the case with Boston, just because it is going to be a new environment and I’ve never been to Boston before. Obviously it’s going to be with a new team and I’m going to have a new role. I think it definitely will be a transition that I’ll have to get used to, but it’s also going to be very exciting and fun and I’m really looking forward to it.
BS: How do you think playing with the USWNT has given you an advantage in preparing for life as a pro?
RL: Being able to be in that environment and getting to train with the best team and best players in the world has been really big for me because I got to experience a whole different level of play that I didn’t even know existed until I got there. I think just being in that environment and being able to play with such a high caliber of players, hopefully can prepare me going into this season. I know I’m going to be experiencing and playing with similar players, so hopefully that can give me a little head start.
BS: What team are you most looking forward to playing against?
RL: I’m really looking forward to playing people that I know on the other teams. I know a lot of people on Portland and North Carolina. This is a tough question because I’m really looking forward to playing them all, because I know people on every team. I think it will be really exciting to reunite with some people.
BS: Our last question and probably the most important question: We know that Lee Billiard, the president of operations and development at Boston, has a really adorable dog named Chunk. Can we look forward to any Chunk and Wilma playdates in the future?
RL: Oh my gosh. I hope! I’m gonna have to bring that up with my parents, but fingers crossed because I think it should happen.