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Julia Lester joins Seattle Reign FC, Sam Hiatt goes to Gotham FC in three-team trade

The Reign also get $20,000 in Allocation Money in the deal.

Last Updated
3 min read
Defender Sam Hiatt waves to the crowd after an OL Reign match at Lumen Field.
Mike Russell / Sounder at Heart

Buckle up, as Seattle Reign FC’s offseason is kicking into high gear. Adding to the report that South Korean midfielder Ji So-yun is set to come to Seattle, the Reign are participating in a three-team trade with Racing Louisville and Gotham FC, resulting in Juila Lester from Racing Louisville coming to Seattle.

Terms of the three-team trade are as follows:

  • Seattle Reign acquires defender Julia Lester and $20,000 in Allocation Money from Racing Louisville.
  • Gotham FC acquires defender Sam Hiatt from Seattle Reign.
  • Racing Louisville acquires $60,000 in Allocation Money from Gotham FC.

The Hello: Julia Lester

Coming to Seattle is defender Julia Lester. Lester has spent the past two seasons at Racing Louisville, making 43 total appearances, playing mostly center back. She had 18 starts in 2023.

Lester is a speedy and versatile defender who can fill either outside back or centerback positions.

Before coming to the NWSL, the 26-year-old defender played two seasons at Apollon Limassol Ladies in Cyprus. She helped Apollon secure back-to-back league titles and started in six UEFA Women’s Champions League matches. 

At Racing, Lester won 88 duels and had a tackle success rate of 77.27%, tallying 34 tackles won.

Lester graduated from the University of Florida, where she appeared in 84 games, starting 67. She was an All-SEC and All-Region selection in 2019.

The Goodbye: Sam Hiatt

Departing the Reign is defender Sam Hiatt as she’s going to reigning NWSL Champions Gotham FC.

“I am excited to join Gotham, especially during such an exciting time for the club and the fans,” Hiatt said in a Gotham press release. “I am really looking forward to joining this team and I cannot wait to get to work.”

Hiatt made 22 appearances across all competitions for the Reign in 2023. Drafted by the Reign in 2020 in the third round, 28th selection overall, Hiatt rose through the depth chart to become a regular starter on Reign's defense line, paired with center back Alana Cook.

On the heels of an unfortunate error in the NWSL Challenge Cup Semifinal against Racing Louisville – combined with Phoebe McClernon's return to full health – Hiatt lost her spot in the starting lineup to McClernon. Soon after, Laura Harvey moved Lauren Barnes back to centerback as part of Reign's drive for the postseason and playing in the 2023 NWSL Championship. In total, Hiatt made 44 NWSL regular season appearances, with all of them being starts.

As NWSL teams are starting to announce their training camp rosters, it's clear that the 2024 Seattle Reign FC will have some familiar names and some new ones. Saying goodbye to a hometown player in Sam Hiatt is going to sting for fans and it will remain to be seen what other moves general manager Lesle Gallimore and the Reign front office have lined up as they hit the road to hold training camp in Newport Beach, California and Alajuela, Costa Rica starting this weekend.