By Brad Whipple, Daily Sports Writer
Published January 20, 2014
When the sun rose Friday morning, Michigan women’s soccer senior forward Nkem Ezurike hurried out of bed and immediately grabbed her computer and phone.
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Refreshing the National Women’s Soccer League Twitter feed every 20 seconds, Ezurike hoped to see her name appear. Then her phone began to buzz with congratulations from her teammates. Ezurike, confused, didn’t see any new updates on Twitter. But with one more refresh, she saw her future.
With the eighth overall pick in the second annual college draft, the Boston Breakers had selected Ezurike.
“It was kind of weird because I felt like I did when I committed to Michigan,” Ezurike said. “Not knowing what to expect, but excited nonetheless. And I remember saying to myself a bunch of times, ‘I can’t believe this just happened.’”
Added Breakers coach Tom Durkin in a statement: “We think she can come in and contribute right away. She has a great physical presence.”
This is the second straight year that Michigan has had a player drafted. Last year, goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer was picked by the Seattle Reign FC in the fourth round.
Of the 185 players eligible to be chosen by a NWSL team, only 36 would make the cut, and Ezurike was the sole choice from Michigan. Senior defenders Shelina Zadorsky, Holly Hein and Kayla Mannino as well as senior midfielders Meghan Toohey and Tori McCombs were also eligible but not selected.
With just four months until graduation, Ezurike wants to make the most of her time in Ann Arbor. She will continue to train for the next level of competition and may even practice with the Wolverines throughout the winter. Whatever she does, her main concern is to not let the precious moments slip by.
Ezurike said the opportunity to play professionally is largely due to the support of her teammates throughout the years, and she’ll make sure to always keep in touch with those who were always by her side.
“I can easily text, call or nowadays Snapchat them just to say hi,” Ezurike said. “I’ll always do my best to stay in contact and support them like they have for me.”
Ezurike is leaving behind a great legacy for the program, and she’s arguably the best player to don the maize and blue. She’s leaving her name in the record book as Michigan’s all-time leader in goals (49) and points (118) and made her most memorable impression this year while helping the Wolverines make a run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan coach Greg Ryan fostered Ezurike’s growth throughout her collegiate career, and he will continue to stay in touch with her if she needs advice or wants to keep in contact with the team.
“I’m so excited for Nkem,” he said. “She’s a natural goal-scorer, and what she showed here over four years at Michigan convinced me that she’s going to continue to do that at higher and higher levels.”