What is there to say about midfielder Jess Fishlock that hasn't been said before? You won't find many people that, when asked to think about the Seattle Reign FC, they don't think of Fishlock. The co-captain has been with Seattle every step of the way, and in the latest installment of the Reign FC Originals, learn how she became a Seattle soccer icon — it all started with a simple e-mail.
"I didn't even think about it, I just said sure."
How Jess Fishlock came to Seattle started with an e-mail from Laura Harvey. While Harvey was at Arsenal Ladies, Fishlock was at Bristol City. At the time her relationship with Harvey was just as an opposing player, so it was something of a surprise for Fishlock to receive an email from Harvey to come to Seattle. Yet there was no hesitation by Fishlock to take up the offer and come to Seattle. And as the story goes, while Harvey knew what she could get out of Fishlock, the sales pitch had to be made to Reign FC owner Bill Predmore and one training session later, he was sold.
"I think 2014 and 2015, we changed football in the USA."
The results weren't there in the first year for the Seattle Reign FC, yet Fishlock was not deterred by it. "I fully believed in what we were doing. I could see our training was good. I could see we were playing the right way," says Fishlock about the growing pains of that first year. It's been repeated by the other Reign FC Originals that while their investments in training and believing in Laura Harvey's philosophy weren't yielding immediate results on the field, none of them thought it wouldn't work down the road.
The inaugural season of the NWSL was new for a lot of people, but for Seattle, you could see there was something special about Fishlock. Looking back on it, maybe that sign came in the second week of the 2013 season where she took NWSL Player of the Week honors despite the Reign being on the losing end of a match against the Portland Thorns.
Fishlock says that from that inaugural squad, a couple personnel changes needed to be made, and we all know about the very active off-season Harvey had, basically rebuilding the Reign FC. That resulted in the 2014 squad which she says is, "The best squad that I have ever been involved in." It's tough to argue against 16 matches unbeaten and while, yes, they fell short of the NWSL Championship, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone that wasn't blown away by how much of a juggernaut that 2014 Seattle Reign FC squad was.
Fishlock says that it's now on this year's squad and all other iterations of the Seattle Reign FC to try and emulate that. Is that an impossible task? It might be, but when you listen to her talk about it, it's a challenge she gladly accepts.
"It just feels like home."
Since the beginning of the Seattle Reign FC, Jess Fishlock has been there every step of the way. She admits to finding it hard to believe at times that, yes, this is her fifth year being a Seattle Reign FC player. However, at the same time, with so many others having been on the team since 2013 or 2014, there's that sense of family that many of the Reign FC Originals have talked about and put over as to why they love it here. Why they continue to play for Seattle and Laura Harvey.
When Fishlock reflects on that email she received from Laura Harvey, did she think her career would turn out the way it has? "Absolutely not," she says and really, at the risk of using a cliché — you can't write a script like this. Who among us would have seen a virtual unknown from a country that Fishlock jokes, "A lot of Americans don't even realize it is an actual country," not only remain with the team that brought her over for this brand new league five years later but also become one of the faces of the franchise? It might have been a gamble for her career and her personal life, but Fishlock has never expressed one iota of regret about answering that email.
Imagine receiving an email to come play in a brand new league in the U.S., basically uncharted waters. You already have a decade under your belt, but you're always looking for the next adventure to challenge yourself and keep your game growing. So you take up the invite, not knowing how it's going pan out beyond the promise to give it your all. Fast forward five years later and you are still with the team and its coach that invited you to come to basically an audition. Guess what, it paid off, as your professional career has brought on countless on the field achievements, the ability to make history for your national team, and have found a home away from home.
You have definitely come a long way from making your professional debut at the age of 16. You are now synonymous with the identity of that team and many would say are the heart and soul of the team.
You are Jess Fishlock, a Reign FC Original.