Former Ball State soccer player Brigit Reder has earned a spot on the 25-player preseason roster for the Western New York Flash of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL).
For Reder, who wrapped up her career with the Cardinals last fall, it is an opportunity to compete at the highest level of women's professional soccer.
"I couldn't even image being here," Reder said. "It is an unreal experience. I wouldn't be here without friends, family and coaches. I'm just blessed to have this opportunity."
It all started when Reder received an invitation to attend February's Peak Performance Women's Soccer Combine in Florida. She went without many expectations but caught the eye of several coaches, including those of the Flash.
She was invited to Flash tryouts in Rochester, N.Y., where she was asked to stay for the first week of the preseason and then made the cut down to 25 players.
Now Reder finds herself on the same roster as some of the best the world has to offer. The Flash lineup includes U.S. Women's National Team players Abby Wambach and Carli Lloyd in addition to a pair of Canadian National Team players and two Mexican National Team members.
The other players on the roster have played professionally, either with the Flash or another team, or have been recently drafted or signed out of college like Reder.
"It's cool to see the mixture of players," Reder said. "There are some bigger names out here. It has definitely been cool to go up against some great players and raise my own level of play."
Reder is now experiencing a training camp not all that different from the preseason sessions she and her college teammates went through each year at Ball State. The Flash hold two-a-day practices in addition to weight training, treatment and exhibition games against college teams.
The Flash have already played an exhibition against Canisius and have upcoming games against Penn State and Ohio State on the preseason schedule. The regular season begins April 14, but the Flash must cut its roster down to 20 players by April 5.
"I have three weeks to show my stuff," Reder said. "They were looking for central defenders, so that worked out perfectly. Now it's going up against some big names, working hard and seeding how I stack up."
The Flash has been one of the most successful franchises in women's professional soccer recently. The team won the final season of the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league in 2011 and then won the Women's Premier Soccer League Elite (WPSL) last season before joining the newly formed NWSL for 2013.
Reder, who played for Ball State from 2009-12, was an All-Mid-American Conference performer. She ranks atop the Cardinals' all-time list for minutes played and is tied for seventh in school history with 11 goals scored from her position on the back line.