Haley Kopmeyer Interview: Fourth Year Pro Earning Her Place

cover photo belongs to Seattle Reign FC

Already in her short career, Seattle Reign goalkeeper Haley Kopmeyer has made a name for herself in goal. In her second year, she led Seattle on a 16 game unbeaten streak, winning thirteen of the games. Last year she started eleven games for Seattle and was a top goalkeeper in Australia's W-League with the Brisbane Roar. Haley talks about her time with Seattle, training under Hope Solo, and her focus moving forward.

You graduated from the University of Michigan after being with the program for five years. During your time there, you experienced several ups and downs. What stands out looking back at your time? How do you hold the good and bad moments in your memory?

I think my final season really stands out because it was the product of so much work and struggle. I came in with the new coaching staff. We rebuilt the program together and I stood in net as we were bottom of the Big Ten all the way to national contenders. Overall, I'm grateful for how hard we had to all work to rebuild the program because it made the end result that much more gratifying. 

After graduation, you were selected in the fourth round by the Seattle Reign but you've mentioned how you weren't expecting to get drafted. How were you dealing with making the jump to the professional game? Was this something you were intent on achieving or was it a little more on the back burner for you?

After graduation I got a job and was studying to take the LSATs. I think in some ways I had mentally prepared myself to move on but kept struggling with the idea that it was really over. Getting drafted was my sign that my time wasn't up. 

You also talked a lot about Seattle Reign's goalkeeper coach Ben Dragavon working with your movement. If you could coach a young goalkeeper to not develop bad habits with their movement, what specific would you work with them on?

One thing Ben works with us on - and I try to pass on to my keepers - is not taking giants steps that shift our balance to a place that makes goalkeeping harder than it needs to be. If your step on a dive is too big it becomes difficult to push and move quickly.

Not many goalkeepers get to work alongside with the best goalkeeper in the world right out of college. What did you learn from working with Hope Solo that has influenced your game today?

It truly is a honor to come out and train each day with Hope. She is fantastic and is always trying to get better. Hope will watch film to see what she could do better and then go out and perfect whatever it is she thinks needs to be better. Goalkeeping is always evolving and she stays ahead of the game.

Last winter you spent time in Australia with the Brisbane Roar in between NWSL seasons. As only a few players made a similar move as you, what prompted the move? And do you expect to see more players try their hand in Australia or is more of an isolated instance?

I had gotten my feet the off season before playing in Cyprus and knew I wanted to play again. For me it's a chance to get more games and explore the world. I started contacting teams in Australia about the prospect of playing and was fortunate that one panned out. I would absolutely go there (or anywhere!) again. I figure at some point people will stop paying me to kick balls and travel cool places so I may as well take advantage of it now. *laughs*

The NWSL has recently been under fire after the field quality of the Western New York game, where the 18 yard box was maybe a yard or two from the end line. Your teammate Hope Solo put out a post detailing some larger issues with the league. As someone who's played in multiple leagues and seen how it's done overseas, where is women's soccer in America suffering? And what needs to be addressed immediately?

There certainly has been a microscope put on the league since this incident. I think in a lot of ways it was the straw that broke the camels back as far as cutting corners goes for certain clubs and highlights the discrepancy in standards between them. I think there needs to be more checks and balances in place to ensure player safety. I'm lucky to play for a club where the owners are willing to bend over backwards to ensure certain standards are met. The same goes for many MLS-backed clubs. I think there needs to be clearer minimum standards. If clubs aren't willing to spend the money to, at a minimum, take care of the players, they shouldn't be in the league. Maybe that's harsh but it's what it will take for the league to be the best in the world. I don't think we are far off. There are a lot of positives - academies, attendance records, elite players from all over the world - just the overall standard needs to be met by all clubs.

You were injured in the WNY game but the camera angle on the play made it look like you rolled your ankle or just tripped on your own player. What exactly happened on the play and where are you on your rehab?

I suffered a high ankle sprain on the play. I played last weekend and am still rehabbing heavily to get it healthier for next weekend.

As Solo turns 35 later this month, some are already pointing to you as one of the possible replacements for her down the line. How does a player go about handling hearing rumors or expectations like that? Is it simply a distraction you try to block out or is it a goal you're working towards?

I don't know what Hope will do and I think for me it's not something I should think about. She and I have a great working relationship and while her plans may impact what I do down he line, right now I am fully committed to Seattle and my role within the team. I'm trying to soak up every chance I can to learn from her.

Last question, I remember watching a video where you were recording your game day prep and somehow I think you got lost walking to the stadium? When can we expect to see more videos where you're wandering around with a GoPro?

*laughs* I'll have to check with the video team. Nothing currently in the works for the GoPro however I'm going to go shoot hoops with some Storm players next month. We will see how that goes.