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January 5, 2016

Chicagoland Native Short Dreaming of NWSL, U.S. Glory

Left back joins Red Stars fresh off best eleven season in Norwegian topflight 

By Gunnar Berndt

Chicago, Ill.
 – When Rory Dames says he has “waited three years” to have Casey Short on his team’s roster, he is not exaggerating. Despite having been off the grid for some time in her native U.S., Short has long been on Dames’ radar and proved the Chicago Red Stars Head Coach right in 2015 by earning a selection to the best eleven of the Norwegian topflight, her standout play at left back having helped Avaldnes IL to the title match. The Naperville native recently discussed finally joining her hometown club as well as her Scandinavian adventure and her goals at the domestic and international levels.

Short’s history with the Chicago Head Coach dates back to over half a decade ago, when she was suiting up for youth club Eclipse Select, whose Director of Coaching and Player Development Dames has been since 1996. The duo’s reunion at the professional level was first put on hold in 2013, as Short was drafted into the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) by long-time Red Stars rivals Boston Breakers, following a highly successful career at Florida State. However, the now 25-year-old never took the field for Boston due to a season-ending injury and her rights would subsequently be traded to Chicago.

Once in the Windy City, Short found herself confronted with more adversity, as corrective surgery for her previous injury forced her to sit out all of 2014 as well. It’s not surprising then that rejoining Chicago for 2016 is of special significance to the club’s latest acquisition.

“The moment I signed, I was so excited,” she recalled. “It’s a dream come true to have things come full circle and be playing minutes from my house, from where I grew up, in front of my family and friends.”

Even with the obvious upsides, Short was sure to make the decision as difficult as possible on herself by shining for Avaldnes all throughout 2015 and by playing a key role in the club booking its ticket to the 2016/17 UEFA Women’s Champions League. However, the chance to return home, coupled with career considerations, ultimately made the difference.

“It definitely wasn’t easy because I really enjoyed my time over in Norway,” admitted the defender, who has represented her country at all youth levels, “That said, I’ve always wanted to play in the NWSL and hopefully be seen by the national team coaches. I’m definitely hoping to one day get an opportunity with the senior team. I knew it would be hard for me to get attention over there since Norway is a smaller league, while the NWSL is local and one of the biggest and strongest leagues in the world.”

Short revealed that going abroad in the first place was a matter of the right offer, of experiencing a new environment while working with renowned Avaldnes Head Coach Tom Nordlie, and of the side’s diverse roster of roughly one half Norwegians and one half players from six different European, South American and North American countries.

“It was simply an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” she said. “Knowing who the coach was first got my attention. He’s very big in Norway and one of the best coaches in Europe, so learning from him was huge for me. In addition, I was excited about experiencing the Norwegian style of football and to play with people from all over the world. Those factors combined made the move extremely appealing.”

The former Florida State Seminole also relished the chance to broaden her cultural horizon, although the Scandinavian country’s educational system, along with the international makeup of the Avaldnes roster, did their part to get in the way of any linguistic aspirations.

“Outside of soccer, it was also a very cool experience,” offered Short. “Everyone was so friendly. It helped that there wasn’t a language barrier because almost everyone spoke English, including my teammates. That said, I do regret not learning Norwegian. It’s just difficult when you’re surrounded by so many nationalities who are all able to communicate in your native language.”

With a grin, she added, “I did learn some of the basic Norwegian soccer terms, but playing with three Brazilians, I think I ended up learning more Portuguese.”

When asked whether she was now expecting a challenging transition on the field, Short didn’t seem too concerned.

“The Norwegian style of play wasn’t that much of an adjustment because it’s fairly similar to American-style football,” said the long-time attacker turned defender. “I’ve been watching NWSL games and would say that the speed of play in the U.S. is quicker, but both leagues are very physical and direct and feature a lot of long balls into the attack, and at the same time both are still quite technical. Playing in Norway was definitely good for me. I was able to learn a lot that should help me here.”

Short only transitioned to left back in her final year of college, making her instant success in Scandinavia an even more impressive feat.

Said the Red Stars’ latest signing, “With 2015 being my second year at the new position, I still have a lot of the instincts from playing up top and in the midfield, so I think people notice my ability to get forward and contribute to the attack. I enjoy taking players on, and luckily I was also able to learn one-v-one defending fairly quickly.”

Having proven herself in one country, Short remains humble but is sure to emphasize that she regards her move back to Chicagoland as an opportunity to aim for even bigger and better things.

“I want to use the first year to gain experience and learn from Rory, to earn my spot in any way possible, and to help the team. Looking at the quality of our roster, I also want to learn from my teammates and continue improving my game. I’m really looking forward to playing with the entire team. If I can prove myself in the NWSL, one day playing for the U.S. would be an absolute dream come true.”

Casey Short and her Chicago Red Stars will be battling for domestic glory throughout 2016. Season tickets for the upcoming campaign at Toyota Park in Bridgeview may be purchased by clicking here or by calling 773-697-8699.


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