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Q&A: Michigan’s Chloe Ricketts on Becoming the Youngest National Women’s Soccer League Player

Chloe Ricketts is a 16-year-old midfielder from Dexter, Michigan. In January 2022, at age 14, Ricketts joined AFC Ann Arbor, a semi-pro USL W League team. During her time with AFC Ann Arbor, she became the youngest goal scorer in the league.

She made history again in March 2023 when she signed with the Washington Spirit of the top-tier National Women’s Soccer League. At the time, she was 15 years and 283 days old, becoming the youngest player ever to ink a deal with the NWSL.

Later that month, she made history again, becoming the youngest U.S. women’s soccer player to sign a multi-year sportswear endorsement, hers being with Adidas.


9&10′s Kennedy Broadwell: How did you get to where you are today?

Chloe Ricketts: Obviously through a lot of hard work, but also learning from the people around me - my parents have done so much for me for my journey and a big shoutout to Next Level Soccer for helping me develop as an individual and a player. I wouldn’t be here without them.

How did the Michigan soccer programs that you went through prepare you for the level that you’re at now?

CR: Obviously, youth soccer does not have like the staff and the equipment that professional teams have. But I think just going to practice every day and pushing yourself really helped me get here and go into Next Level training.


Where did you kind of see the biggest difference between what you were used to experiencing and what you’re experiencing now at the pro level?

CR: The biggest difference is the equipment that I now have, and also playing with some of my dream players, like, some of my heroes are on my team.

How did you know that going to the Spirit was the right option for you?

CR: Spirit just really made me feel welcomed, and just the movement that they’re doing, and everything that’s going on with them is incredible. Like, this club is incredible. And we’re gonna go places.


What advice would you give to young girls who are soccer players in the state of Michigan wanting to take a similar path to you?

CR: Never stop learning.

That’s a good one. So at a young age, I saw that you played soccer on a boys team in Ann Arbor. Can you kind of tell me why and what that experience was like for you?

CR: I’ve known all those boys since I was like around 5 years old. And the experience was I think it was really good for my development, because boys play faster. So it made me play faster. And just like, getting bullied a little bit really toughened me up every day. So I think it just like helped me as a character and grow as a person.


Now obviously, you play with, work with, the best women in the sport. So when you think about those bullies, and maybe them comparing women’s levels to men’s what would you say?

CR: I would say, there’s no difference. If you want it enough, then you have it.

How important is it to you that you’re kind of setting the standard for young women in soccer to be taking seriously and get big opportunities like your brand deals?

CR: It’s so important to me, it means the world. I just want to keep making a pathway for other women to do it and young girls.

Walk me through how these opportunities like going pro and getting brand deals have changed your life.

CR: I think it’s just helping me mature as a kid right now. And just, it’s so cool. Like, I can’t explain it. I don’t think it’s like it’s changing me in any way. But I think having these opportunities is really incredible. And I hope other people get to have these types of opportunities in the future.

You’re still in online schooling right now, right? So with your pro career, online schooling, how do you find time to just be 16?

CR: My sister lives with me right now and she’s my best friend. So after practice, I’ll do my homework. And then my sister and I will hang out and I have some friends here. So I do have free time. It’s not like I’m stacked with soccer and homework. Like it’s an easy balance and the club has done a great job of giving me rest if I need it and helping me out with school.

What’s the locker room dynamic like with you being so young?

CR: I have my own locker room, because I’m not 18, I can’t share locker room with anyone. [I’m learning] mostly off the pitch stuff that every little detail matters. So like ice bathing, drinking your shakes and actually doing recovery, whereas in club soccer, I never did recovery, and it makes a huge difference.

Ricketts made her official NWSL debut on April 15 against the North Carolina Courage. Ricketts and the Washington Spirit are currently ranked third in the NWSL standings. They have 16 games left in their season. Find how to watch here.

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