Former Jayhawk Soccer Star Inks Professional Contract

April 2, 2010


Former University of Kansas soccer player Estelle Johnson has signed a professional contract with the Philadelphia Independence of the Women’s Professional Soccer league. Johnson is one of 18 players on the Independence’s opening day roster, and will be the first Jayhawk to play in the WPS.

“When you’re growing up, you always have dreams of becoming a professional athlete,” Johnson said. “I don’t think it’s really hit me yet, but I’m excited.”

The road to a pro contract was not an easy one for Johnson. The three-time all-region selection was drafted by the Los Angeles Sol with the 23rd pick in the WPS Draft on Jan. 15. However, shortly after drafting Johnson, the Sol announced that it would fold due to a lack of funds.

This put Johnson back in a draft pool when the league decided to hold a dispersal draft for the players on the Sol’s roster. She was the second player selected by Philadelphia in the draft.

“It’s been one of the most stressful times of my life,” said Johnson of going through the dispersal draft. “Just everything I’ve been through the last few months and not knowing if my soccer career was going to continue. I wasn’t guaranteed anything (in Philadelphia) so I’ve had to be at the top of my game every day.”

A senior defender from Fort Collins, Colo., Johnson played in all 22 matches this past season and anchored the Jayhawk defense for the past four years. She scored a career-high three goals in 2009, with tallies against South Dakota State (Sept. 20), Texas A&M (Oct. 2) and Nebraska (Oct. 23). Johnson’s 1,987 minutes played this past season were the fourth-most in team history among field players. She finished her career tied for the most games started (82) and was fourth in games played (85) in school history.

She was a three-time National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-Central Region selection in her Jayhawk career, including a second team honoree this year. The senior was also named an All-Big 12 selection this past year and has been honored on the Academic All-Big 12 team each of the last two seasons.

“I am really pleased for Estelle and extremely proud of her,” Kansas Head Soccer Coach Mark Francis said.

“It is a very tough, competitive environment when you are playing for a living. You are competing against people who have families to feed and are playing for their paycheck. I like to think that the environment here at KU prepared her for that. She is a really tough kid and has made us all very proud. She worked extremely hard while she was here at KU and made significant strides as a player and as a person. She has earned this opportunity because of the work she put in. Making the roster of 18 and receiving a professional contract is very well deserved.”

Johnson and the Philadelphia Independence will open the season April 11 at home against the Atlanta Beat.