February 5, 2012
by Charles Cuttone
WPS players weighing their options
For the members of the U.S. Women's National Team, there was almost no time to dwell on the fact that Women's Professional Soccer suspended its 2012 season. Just days after winning the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament and booking passage to the 2012 Summer Games in London, the national teamers were called into another camp.
|Sky Blue FC midfielder Carolyn Blank, along with the other non-national team players in WPS, is looking for a way to keep soccer in her life without a pro league to play in.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
But players who are not part of the national team pool are now having to decide what to do now that playing pro soccer is not an option.
"I'm just disappointed," said Sky Blue FC midfielder Carolyn Blank. "I'm disappointed for myself, I 'm disappointed for everybody who plays soccer who's not on the national team. I'm disappointed for those on the national team, of course, but for those of us who don't have a national team to play for, who want to continue playing soccer," she said, pointing out that there are few real options.
"I'm disappointed for our fans and I'm disappointed for little girls teams who donít have as many players to watch now," said Blank, who played with three different teams in her three years in the league.
The timing of the announcement came as a surprise to the WPS players.
"We were getting e-mails for our preseason, and our conditioning packets," said Philadelphia Independence midfielder Nikki Krzysik who, like Blank, said she was really surprised by the news.
"It did surprise me, because we are so close, a month from preseason as they were," said Blank, a native of Toms River, NJ. "What happened? A lot of us were skeptical about how long the league would last. I think we are over the completely shocked part, but we are shocked that we were so close to having this year happen."
Blank, who has her masters degree in education, pretty much knows she's going to move into teaching. She already has been a permanent sub at a high school in New Jersey, a position she originally planned to keep only until March 1, but will continue with, at least for now.
Krzysik, who spent one season with the Chicago Red Stars before joining the Independence in 2010, isn't so sure what she is going to do.
"I still can't get my head around it," said Krzysik, a native of Clifton, NJ. "I figure I'd give myself a week to wrap my head around it."
Krzysik, who is engaged to Dallas Cowboys tight end John Phillips, has been working as a coach with the Sting youth and at a local soccer facility in Dallas. She said she will probably continue with that, and may look to play for a minor league team until the WPSís future is decided.
Blank figures in addition to teaching, some form of soccer is still in her future.
"For me it is just now figuring out what I want to do," said Blank. "Soccer is going to be a part of my life no matter what, training, coaching. I never want it to go away, but it's hard to decide. Do I sit around and wait another year or do I wait to see if this does happen in 2013, or do I try to get a (permanent) job?
"Itís a little overwhelming because you have a plan and you kind of set your life out with what you want to do and it's just a curveball," said Blank, who has learned to deal with the ups and downs of playing pro soccer after her first team, Saint Louis Athletica folded in the middle of the 2012 season.
Blank said making a decision on a playing future is hard, as much as anything because of the instability of the league since its inception.
Blank says the W-League or the Women's Premier Soccer League might be an option for her this season. " I think that's going to be an option for a lot of people. Players that don't go overseas, that's where we are going to be playing."
Blank says players want the WPS to survive, and most were willing to do whatever it took to ensure that.
"Everybody wants to play so badly and everybody wants the league to last, then why aren't we all willing to play for less. I think we should. I just want to play."
That feeling is probably echoed by most of the rest of the players in the WPS, who for now at least, don't have a place to play.