Brooke Dawahare, a Lafayette junior who became one of Lexington’s most heralded women’s soccer players, has decided to forgo this high school season to rest and recover from a busy schedule and focus on its university recruitment.
“A lot of things got in the way of playing football in high school,” Dawahare said in a phone interview with the Herald-Leader recently. “The main thing was that I didn’t want to be unfair to the team. I finished (USL) W League not too long ago, and Lafayette already had trials, they already had a lot of pitches open, they already had pre-season training, just like that, and I would have missed every one of those.”
Dawahare, a 16-year-old three-star midfielder according to TopDrawerSoccer.comwas named Lexington Women’s Soccer Player of the Year and co-11th Regional Player of the Year by local coaches as a sophomore last season.
“Brooke is absolutely a unique player and we are 100% behind her decision to do what’s best for her,” Lafayette coach Taylor Roden said. “She’s very, very focused on achieving her goal of playing Division I college and then, ultimately, playing professionally. So whatever she has to do to achieve that, we support it.
The decision was not easy.
“I love the girls. I respect Coach Taylor and (assistant) coach Jared (Roden) so much,” Dawahare said. just not that it would have worked. But it’s sad to know that I’m not playing this year because it was so much fun last year. And you see all the fun things they do, so that’s really difficult, but I think it was the best decision.
Roden said there were no hard feelings from him, his staff or the girls on the team
“Everyone just wants her to be successful,” Roden said. “Obviously if she sorts things out, maybe if she commits somewhere and decides to come back her senior year, we’ll always welcome her to Lafayette with warm arms. She knows that.
Opportunities fill the calendar
In May, Dawahare was selected to participate in a Elite Club National League All-Star Event in New Jersey. She had already been selected to be part of Racing Louisville’s entry into the new USL W League who started playing this year.
Louisville Race is more widely known as the professional team that is part of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). Dawahare plays for his youth academy. The USL W league was formed as a “pre-pro” opportunity for its outstanding youth academy members as well as current and former college players.
Thereupon, Dawahare and his academy teammates practiced alongside members of Florida State’s 2021 NCAA Championship team and a number of players enrolled at the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.
“It was so much fun. All the students that played with us, they were so nice,” Dawahare said, though she admitted to being a bit amazed by the Seminoles’ Clara Robbins and Emily Madril. Madril makes the list current U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team player.” Just seeing different styles of play – just everything, it was really cool to see that and have the opportunity to practice with them and s improving every day was awesome.”
His USL W team played a 12-game schedule in a “Great Lakes” division that included teams from Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and more. His final game was on July 9 in Flint Michigan, just six days away from high school tryouts. Dawahare started and got help in the 3-0 victory.
Stepping away from the game in high school has become more common in recent years for some of the top young players, especially in men’s soccer where there are more opportunities to play club soccer year-round.
Two of Dawahare’s USL W Racing teammates have also chose not to pursue secondary education this year – South Oldham junior Audrey King, who was part of last year’s state runner-up, and Ballard senior Ella Sanchez, Kentucky Gatorade’s 2021 Player of the Year.
The Madness of College Recruitment
Dawahare college recruiting got real this summer – maybe too real. Having reached the age where schools can contact her, the floodgates opened on June 15, the first day of the recruitment calendar.
“The easiest way to put it is, ‘That was crazy,'” Dawahare said. “It’s been stressful… I didn’t think about it too much (at first), but the amount of texting and phone calls and all that stuff is very overwhelming.”
Dawahare estimates he received calls, texts and emails from 20 Division I programs on the first day. It has increased further since its appearances in a few showcases and camps over the summer.
“Off the top of my head, I couldn’t count. And I don’t want to sound arrogant or anything, but I didn’t really think about it,” Dawahare said.
One of the difficulties Dawahare admits to having with her recruitment is both the enormity of making a decision about where she will go to school and the secrecy surrounding women’s football recruitment.
Football and basketball players are talking, tweeting and posting their college offers all the time and really don’t seem to have to make a decision until signing day. That’s because top Division I football teams have 85 full purses, enough for an entire roster.
In women’s college football, however, Division I teams have just 14 scholarships, less than half a roster. Many of these scholarships could be split between multiple players. And college football has long had an open transfer portal, so a poor fit for a player could mean buying another scholarship or a partial scholarship to another school within a season or two.
This creates a highly competitive and super secret market.
“You don’t really talk like that at all in football. So it’s definitely weird,” Dawahare said.
Dawahare said none of his club mates ever really talked about visits or offers until their decision was made and already posted on social media.
Receiving an official college offer also ticks the clock, Dawahare said. The teams that distribute them often want a commitment within two weeks. “It’s so early,” she said.
Instead, Dawahare is trying to delay formal offers and take her time with the decision. She wants to visit the schools at the top of her list, really get to know the programs, and think about what’s right for her.
“I’m only 16 and I still don’t know exactly what I’m looking for in college,” she said. “It’s hard to process everything at once and create a kind of list, have pros and cons and then make a decision without even going to school. It’s crazy. But I hope it will get a little easier – which it probably won’t – but I’m still hoping it will.
In the meantime, she will continue to train on her own, further her education as a pre-engineering student at Lafayette High School, and root for the generals.
“I can’t wait to see what the girls do this year,” she said. “I think it will be really exciting.”