Last will be first and first will be last – the adage rings especially true for Kansas City Current forward Kristen Hamilton.
In his career, Hamilton (BS ’13) has been first, last and everywhere in between.
Hamilton, who earned a degree in finance from Daniels College of Business, was the first University of Denver soccer player to be drafted into the National Women’s Soccer League.
But in 2014, she waited a long time to get that call. With the final draft pick, the Western New York Flash, which has since been renamed North Carolina Courage, selected the 5-foot-4 forward.
Two years later, the Cinderella story came to life when The Flash went from last to first, winning the NWSL Championship. As Hamilton says, they should never have won that game.
“A bunch of dummies,” Hamilton says. “Just this hard-working, blue-collar team saying, ‘We’re going to go out and shoot and score as many as we can. “”
Since then, she has won two more NWSL titles and is currently tied for second all-time in hat-tricks and fifth all-time in the playoffs.
But perhaps his biggest win came off the pitch.
In February, the seasoned veteran helped secure the league’s first collective bargaining agreement, raising the minimum wage to $35,000. When Hamilton entered the league, it was $7,000.
“You pretty much pay to be a pro at that point,” she says. “…I’m sure a lot of careers have been cut short because they couldn’t make it work.”
At the time, she was living with a foster family in Buffalo, New York, and during the offseason she returned home to Littleton, Colorado, where she worked at a credit union.
“I did accounting,” Hamilton says. “One of the years I drove for DoorDash.”
The agreement also provides free housing, transportation, fully vested 401(k) contributions, health, life and disability insurance and eight weeks of parental leave. Overall, the CBA requires NWSL owners to invest an additional $100 million, according to CBS Sports.
Over the past eight seasons, Hamilton has seen an increase in the NWSL fan base. In Buffalo, the team was blessed with 800 fans. In Kansas City, the Current, now in its second season, averages 7,000 fans per game.
“Kansas City is a huge football city. People love it,” Hamilton says. “The money that has been invested in us has been tremendous. There is a long way to go but this team is going to be huge.
And it works. Hamilton is already the team’s top scorer with 10 goals in two seasons. From bottom to middle, the Current (4-4-3) continue to climb the standings, perhaps giving way to another Cinderella story.