Reign FC Legend: Keelin Winters

The Legends campaign, a partnership between Seattle Reign FC and Avanade, honors women for their extraordinary contributions in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. To celebrate the achievements of each Reign FC Legend, Dale Chihuly crafted the Reign Royal Blue Piccolo Venetian, which is symbolically presented to each recipient.

Prior to the match against Sky Blue FC this Saturday, Reign FC will recognize their first Reign FC Legend: Keelin Winters.

During her career with Seattle Reign FC, Winters made 83 appearances for the club, scoring five goals and tallying three assists. A constant presence in the midfield, Winters served as team captain from the inaugural season in 2013 until her retirement after the 2016 NWSL season.

A key part of Seattle’s turnaround from seventh place in 2013 to back-to-back Shield winning seasons in 2014 and 2015, Winters started all four playoff matches including two NWSL Championships. The inspiration to pursue professional soccer came to Winters from a different championship, the U.S. Women’s National Team victory in the 1999 World Cup.

“I remember watching that game and deciding that that was what I wanted to do, I wanted to play soccer for my country and maybe even get paid for it,” said Winters. “When I was a kid, my dad always told me that if there was ever a time I didn’t enjoy playing a sport then I could stop playing whenever I wanted. But I always loved playing soccer so I never stopped. Ultimately, it was my love of the game that led me to be a professional soccer player.”

Before the advent of the NWSL, Winters witnessed her 1999 heroes play in the WUSA which would eventually fold. The midfielder would later go on to begin her career playing for the Boston Breakers in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), another women’s league that folded soon after its creation.

Due in part to these experiences, Winters feels Reign FC’s importance to the community cannot be overstated as the club enters a historic fifth season in professional soccer.

“Having professional women’s sports teams in Seattle is massively important because it allows young athletes to physically see what is possible,” said Winters. “My 11-year-old self found role models in the 1999 U.S. women’s national team, and I know the Reign is able to do that for young soccer players here in Seattle.”

As many fans got to see her play on the pitch at Memorial Stadium, Winters saw the community connections Reign FC created during her four seasons play out in front of her.

“The Reign organization as a whole does a great job of creating meaningful relationships with the community,” said Winters. “Personally, I saw this in action through the partnership with the Austen Everett Foundation. The AEF captains made a profound impact on my playing career with the Reign as they became an important part of my pregame routine. More importantly though, I know the experience and interactions with the Reign players were full of smiles and laughter for the AEF captains and their families.”

While Winters has since moved on to become a firefighter at the Kirkland Fire Department, the midfielder still has plenty of advice to give to young players with the same goals she had as an 11-year-old.

“Enjoy the highs and grind through the lows,” said Winters. “Listen to your coaches and try to get better every day. Be a good teammate and friend, as the friendships and relationships you build through this sport will be some of your most cherished.”

Seattle will open their 2017 NWSL regular season on Saturday, April 15th at Memorial Stadium when they host Sky Blue FC. Kickoff is set for 7:00pm PT. Single match tickets are now available. To purchase tickets, visit reignfc.com/tickets or call the Reign FC ticket office at (855) REIGN-FC.