After three seasons with Seattle Reign FC, defender Kendall Fletcher has announced her departure from Seattle Reign FC and the National Women’s Soccer League.
“Fletch is one of the most competitive, smartest defenders I have ever worked with,” said Seattle Reign FC head coach and general manager Laura Harvey. “Her attitude towards being the best player she can be was unmatched. Her influence on our team was exceptional. She was a major part of our success over the 2014 and 2015 season, and she will be truly missed.”
Fletcher began her professional career in the W-League, after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Playing for Jersey Sky Blues in 2007 and Pali Blues in 2008, Fletcher then joined the Los Angeles Sol for the launch of Women’s Professional Soccer in 2009.
After just one game, Fletcher was traded to the Saint Louis Athletica, where she played until the team folded six games into the 2010 season. Her contract was picked up by Sky Blue FC, and the defender played two full seasons there before WPS folded in 2012.
“If I’m honest, I was disappointed with a lot of my experiences in the WPS,” said Fletcher. “It was one of the reasons I looked to go play overseas in Sweden for a couple years.”
Fletcher spent the 2012 and 2013 season with Vittsjö in the Swedish Damallsvenskan, starting all 43 matches she played for the club. With the return of professional soccer in the United States, the defender felt it was time to return, signing with Reign FC in February of 2014.
“When I was ready to come back to the States, playing for the Reign far exceeded my expectation in almost every way,” said Fletcher. “From the professionalism of the way the club was run, to the level of coaching, to the caliber of players I was playing with on the field. It was a dream come true for me to find that kind of environment as a professional.”
Her debut season with Reign FC was one for the record books, helping the club to the NWSL Shield and going on a league record 16 match unbeaten streak. Fletcher tallied two goals and one assist while earning NWSL Best XI honors and showing off her patented Fletcher Flip celebration.
“Not only was she an exceptional defender but she also had one of the best celebrations when she scores a goal,” said Harvey. “I will always remember the first time I saw her score and had no idea what she was going to do.”
In 2015, Fletcher helped the team retain the NWSL shield, scoring two goals and providing two assists in the 19 matches she started. Fletcher was once again recognized for her play, earning NWSL Second XI honors.
Despite missing the playoffs in 2016, Fletcher still consistently performed for the club, starting all 20 matches. She tallied one goal, and was voted by her teammates as Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year.
“She was the standout player for us in 2016,” said Harvey. “Her ability to stand out defensively was a true testament to her attitude and ability.”
All-time, Fletcher appeared in 66 matches for Seattle, starting 65. Amassing 5,724 minutes of playing time, fifth most in club history, Fletcher was a permanent presence across the Reign FC backline over the past three seasons.
“I can honestly say the last three years playing for the Reign have been the most enjoyable years of my career,” said Fletcher. “I was not only pushed, challenged and stretched as a player, but I also felt valued and appreciated for who I was on and off the field. If soccer was the only thing in my life I would play for the club until I was 50 if Laura would let me.”
Outside of her time with Reign FC, Fletcher is also known as a veteran of the Australian W-League. Playing with four different clubs over the past seven seasons, Fletcher is currently on loan with the Western Sydney Wanderers of the Australian W-League.
While Fletcher will finish out the season with Western Sydney, her post-soccer life begins next week. Kendall will start a three-year program to earn an Advanced Diploma in Ministry at the Hillsong International Leadership College in Sydney, Australia.
“The opportunity I have ahead of me at bible college allows me to step out and express my faith in a way I’ve never had the courage to do before,” said Fletcher. “It is something that frames every single part of who I am and is at the core of everything I do.”
Looking back at her time with Reign FC, Fletcher is grateful for her experiences and excited for what the future looks like in women’s soccer.
“I played with a group of girls that I believe put a product on the field that raised the standard and level of women’s football in this country,” said Fletcher. “I played for a coach who I believe is one of the best coaches in the world. I played for a club whose owners and staff have invested in the women’s game with the respect it deserves and have encouraged others to do the same. I played for a city and a fan base that has supported our team in a way that makes me believe this league will not only survive, but it will thrive.”