It’s been five days since Trinity Rodman became the youngest player ever to be inducted into the National Women’s Soccer League, and the 18-year-old is busy packing up her dorm room at Washington State University in Pullman.
An avid painter in her spare time, her artwork still hangs on the walls behind her, and her mother, Michelle Moyer, scurries in and out recording things. After the cyclone announced that they would participate in the January 13 draft and then be voted 2nd overall, everything feels oddly normal.
This is the productive nature of her father’s NBA career. News that “Dennis Rodman’s daughter” was joining the 2021 NWSL draft spread like wildfire on social media. It caught the attention of even the most inattentive sports fans, and as a result, much of Trinity’s own story was overlooked as people remembered the antics of the elder Rodman on and off the pitch.
While she understands the hype and says that there are similarities in how the sport is approached – her competitiveness, aggressiveness, and drive are traits she picks up – he’s just her father too. When ESPN aired “The Last Dance,” a series that focused on Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls season (Dennis Rodmans with the Bulls last year), Trinity said she didn’t see much of it because she always did fell asleep again.
– Trinity Rodman makes history, selected as # 2 on the NWSL Draft
“I don’t think it’s even understandable to have someone so well known and see them on TV and be so successful and talk to so many people,” she tells ESPN of her father, a five-time NBA champion. “Obviously he was a really good athlete and I think he inspired so many people. He was a great player on the pitch and just to know that I have a father who can talk to so many people and maybe a story Not many people expected are a great thing. “
However, on February 1, Trinity Rodman will join Washington Spirit’s preseason camp and hopefully leave a new legacy for the Rodman name in professional sports.
“I think the hardest part is always getting compared and expecting that legend to be like it was,” says Rodman. “Going forward it will be nice not to part ways but to realize that he was a successful NBA player, but I will be a successful NWSL player.”
Trinity Rodman’s love for soccer began when she was only 4 years old, and while she immersed herself in every sport imaginable – even the soccer brother DJ asked her – she kept returning to soccer.
“Honestly, I noticed at a young age that I was going to stick with it for a while just because my team wasn’t really trying – like there was someone on my team who wasn’t trying – I’d be super annoyed and say, “Come on, come on, come on,” she says.
“Even when I was 7 years old, that would annoy me [people not trying]. “
Rodman’s early fixation on soccer led her to the Southern California Blues, where she met coach Greg Baker. He was the man, says Rodman, who she could go to with a problem in her game and who gave her truthful and sometimes hard-to-hear advice on how to fix it. The two have built a strong relationship over the past eight years, and Rodman says she wouldn’t be the player she is today without him.
“I think the massive thing for me was taking his criticism and not taking it personally,” she says. “Let’s say he’s trying to make us better. He really helped me become the player I am.”
Baker tells ESPN that from an early age, Rodman was a shy and respectful kid who had a tough shell. After speaking to her mother and interacting with Trinity herself, Baker said he knew he had to work to earn her trust. As their player-coach relationship grew, so did their confidence. He quickly saw her creativity – a word that comes up often when talking to people about Rodman – on the pitch. He knew she had to be challenged to reach her full potential.
“She’s a great athlete. Period,” says Baker. “If you want to shoot hoops with her, if you want to play tennis with her, she can do all of these things very quickly and very easily.
“You have to challenge this type of player in a very different way than everyone else. That’s where our bond became strong because I would give her some different things that were technical that none of the other players knew about and I would just tell her, ‘Look, today you have to do this ‘this and that’ because what we were working on, I knew it would be too easy for her. “
While she never ran the team, Baker says Rodman was the kind of player who sets an example. She knew when it was time to settle down and work, but she also appreciated having a good time with people around her.
“I’m a great person when it comes to making things fun,” says Rodman. “I think when you can be fun and when you can train and work hard and exert yourself [to have] Fun, you’ll never get tired of it. I think if you take it too seriously and push yourself too hard, you’ll get over it too quickly. “
In Baker’s mind, Rodman is “the complete package”. He mentions her name in passing next to the great and two-time US world champion Mia Hamm. However, if there is a criticism, he wishes Trinity were a little more selfish with her game: “She could take over the game if she wanted to.”
In the eight years that Rodman played for Baker and the Blues, she won four national championships, two regional crowns, two state titles, five conference championships in the Elite Clubs National League, and four Surf Cup titles – a tournament that the best youth teams participate in the nation – and over 30 tournament victories in addition to their burgeoning career as a U20 national team.
Trinity Rodman tells Sebastian Salazar what to expect from her first season with the Washington Spirit.
Washington state coach Todd Shulenberger was equally impressed. The coronavirus pandemic meant Rodman never played a game for the college team as their 2020 season was canceled, but through recruiting and training, Shulenberger enjoyed a front row seat to see her potential. One of his first interactions with Trinity was when she was called for a lawsuit with the team after they had just reached the final four of the NCAA Women’s College Cup. As part of the experiment, he had her take a beep test – a multi-level fitness test that measured a player’s shuttle limit using increasing shuttle runs – against the rest of the team, and she prevailed by far. Baker says she could have done much better that day.
“One day she took care of the beep test against everyone here,” says Shulenberger. “To play at a high level as a 17- or 18-year-old and our entire team is pretty impressive. She has a ‘I win every time’ mentality. Super competitive.
“She’s a great person and that leads to the field. She has a great athletic framework and was at a high level with the U-20s [USWNT] Group, so tactical, they understand [the game]. It’s as fast as I’ve seen. She likes to attack players. “
While the 2020 Pac-12 season cancellation was a massive disappointment for Rodman, she probably wouldn’t have made the decision to turn pro without it. She was dying to start playing again when she was at home. Baker describes Rodman as “a wink” when it comes to going pro, and conversations with her mother and brother, two of her most trusted confidants, only cemented what she wanted.
“She [her mom and brother] I knew my heart and my drive was only through the roof, “she says.
“I just thought the sooner we can level up the better and I think young players have to go.” [pro] earlier is a great thing because it gives younger players an opportunity to learn. “
Despite the hype that follows her, Rodman is based on her career. When asked if she prefers goals or assists, she chooses the latter and laughs: she knows it’s a surprising choice for an attacker, but she sees it as an advantage of her game. As she joins the pro ranks, she realizes that she won’t just join her new team.
“I’m definitely expecting a completely different level. I’ll really understand my first training session, especially the first game I get into,” she says.
“My goal is to just grow as an individual, as a player, as a teammate, as a colleague, everything. The biggest goal for me right now is to grow as a player and to adapt to who I play with and who I’m just taking my style of football to the next level. “
When she talks about her own style of play, she says that two-time world champion and Manchester United striker Christen Press is a player she looks up to. Press decision-making and the ability to get in the box at exactly the right moment to score are two skills she hopes to develop.
“I look up to a lot of people in the USWNT, but I think one of the players I’ve had that connection with or just admired is Christen Press,” she says.
“I think we play a little bit similar as I feel like she makes a lot of decisions, scoring goals and getting into the box at the last minute, and I think scoring a ton is a great thing . ” of goals – to be late and fast with many runs.
“If you can make these decisions in a split second in the 18 yard box or even the 6 yard box, that’s crazy. Even if you just look up at the players who can think so fast, you can tell that all thoughts are in there. ” Your mind when on the ball is insane, and I can’t wait to get to that point. “
When she was drafted, Rodman was immediately enveloped by her mother, who wore a “Team Trin” (patent pending) hat, and she regularly calls her brother her best friend on social media. Add to this a number of coaches – from U-20 coach Laura Harvey to Baker – who openly say she deserves great things, and it’s not hard to see why she felt it was just another logical step on her way to the NWSL was at such a young age.
With a senior USWNT cap and Olympic medal on her to-do list, for now she’s focused on adapting to her new reality and making her own story.
“I never say that I’m proud of myself – I criticize myself more – but when my name was mentioned I said, ‘Whoa, I did it here.’ I’m really proud of myself and just proud of where I’ve got to and where I’ll be soon. “