The fourth installment of our Reign FC Originals is on someone who started their professional career in Seattle. She went on to become part of a trade that defined not only the Seattle Reign FC but the entire NWSL. Now she returns to the team this season as an experienced veteran and could be part of the franchise’s new identity. Although if you ask her, it feels like she never left. Here is Christine Nairn.
"It was a complete new world."
Born and raised in the east coast, Christine Nairn was excited at the prospect of moving to the other end of the country to start her professional soccer career. She was still at Penn State University when she got the word on draft day that she was coming to Seattle, and she knew how big the beautiful game was in the Pacific Northwest. "To start my professional career there was just perfect," Nairn said, reminiscing about draft day.
"You can either forget it or you can use it as motivation."
The growing pains of that first season are not lost on Nairn. The team didn't get the results on the field, but many remember after that first year looking at Nairn as someone to watch going forward. She was one of the players identified to be Laura Harvey's core going forward, but in what is widely considered one of the most dramatic roster overhauls, Nairn was traded to the Washington Spirit for the rights to sign Kim Little. You may have heard of that name before. The trade did not deter Nairn, whose game evolved over her three seasons in Washington like people predicted after her rookie season. She became an impact player for the Spirit, claiming team MVP honors last year as they made it to the NWSL Championship, falling short to the Western New York Flash (now known as North Carolina Courage) on penalties. Now a seasoned veteran in the NWSL, Nairn is back in Seattle where she says it feels like she never left.
"I feel like a brand new player - but in the same regard, I feel like I never left."
There's that saying: the more things change, the more things stay the same - and it's probably fitting to describe how the return to Seattle has been for Christine Nairn. The team no longer plays at Starfire Sports Complex, where she had her rookie season. We know the lore of Memorial Stadium and how tough of a place it is for visiting teams. As much as Christine has grown as a professional soccer player, so has the league and the Reign. From the damage the team has done on the field since that first year to the front office and their resources, a lot of it felt new to Christine in her first few weeks back in Seattle after the trade to reacquire her was announced. What hasn't changed for Christine is the relationships with the people she made back in her rookie year in Seattle. "These girls have welcomed me with open arms whenever I was coming in, traveling with another team as well as being back on the Seattle Reign. Just credit goes them for creating that atmosphere and it's an atmosphere that everyone wants to be a part of in this league, whether they're gonna admit that or not." The relationships Nairn has made with players who were part of the inaugural season with her are why the move back to Seattle could be considered almost seamless. You see it on the players’ social media accounts - they're not just your colleagues, they're your best friends.
"They're doing something awesome and I just want to learn from that."
She was here from the beginning, yet Christine Nairn is still hungry to learn more. Just what kind of team are the 2017 Seattle Reign FC going to be is anyone's guess even as we head into round 4 of the season. They've looked pretty good, and they've looked pretty bad. It could very well be a learning experience of a different kind for this squad, and while she is very much a veteran of this league, Christine Nairn could be instrumental in being part of a new era of Reign FC.
The day comes and you can finally call yourself a professional soccer player. You pack up your bags and go to the other end of the country to start living your dream. The results may not be coming on the field in terms of wins, but it is still a learning experience for you that you can't put a price on. You aren't deterred from having to pack up your bags and go back to the other end of the country barely after your rookie season ended. For three seasons, you up your game, getting better each year to where no one hesitates to call you an impact player. Then you get to come back to where it all began. Plenty of things changed while you were gone, but plenty of other things didn't, like some of the faces from your rookie season, but rookie you are not anymore. It may be a different road than you thought you'd be taking on draft day, but you are a veteran who returns to your first team a better player, and one who could very well be the foundation of ushering in a new identity to a franchise deep with personality.
You are Christine Nairn, a Reign FC Original.