Houston, We Don’t Have A Problem: Getting To Know Katie Naughton | Journal & Topics Media Group

(Ed. Note: The following interview was conducted by Elk Grove High School girls soccer coach Dean Burrier Sanchis. Sanchis reached out to the Journal & Topics after Katie Naughton, an alumna of EGHS, won the recent National Women’s Soccer League championship with the Houston Dash. Inspired by Naughton’s achievement, Sanchis sought to “capture this important moment in her life for our community in Elk Grove and hopefully demystify the path to attaining a difficult dream, such as being a professional athlete and champion.”)

Elk Grove alum Katie Naughton plays for the Houston Dash this year. (Photo courtesy Jordyn Baker)

Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village) recently won the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup with the Houston Dash.

In the tournament, she ranked 1st in minutes played for field players, 4th in passes completed and was instrumental in Houston not conceding a single goal in the knockout stage.

Naughton shared her perspective on the unique achievement of becoming a champion of a major professional sports league.

Q: How was your adaptation to a new city and club going prior to the season?

Naughton: “I got traded in January from Chicago after four years there. Coming to Houston, it was a new chapter and I was really excited about it. When I got here, I was really pleased with how welcoming and how excited everyone was to have, not just me here, but pretty much a new team in a lot of ways. The vibe was really exciting and fresh.”

Q: What was it like living through the uncertainty that COVID-19 brought to the NWSL season?

Naughton: “It was definitely a mental grind during those months. We weren’t even sure if we were going to have the season at all. Our start date kept getting pushed back. Finally, we started household training, then group and, eventually, team trainings. We had to make sure we were keeping each other sharp and accountable during that time.”

Q: What went through your mind when plans for an NWSL bubble in Salt Lake City surfaced?

Naughton: “Initially, everyone was really excited we had the opportunity to compete, but there was obviously some apprehension as well. No one had ever done anything like this before. We were going to be the first professional sports league back.”

Q: How do you sum up the team’s journey over these weeks, going from tough results early to winning the title?

Naughton: “We were always making sure that we had emotional control over difficult situations. Our coach engraved that in us because he wanted to make sure we didn’t get caught up and that if we did go down, we didn’t get too distraught and just focused on battling back. We were able to come together when it mattered most and showcase our talent. We set a club record for the most minutes without allowing a goal (344’ and counting). It was all really exciting.”

Q: What was it like facing your former club in the final, after experiencing defeat with the Red Stars in the same cup final last season?

Naughton: “Having lost the year before with Chicago, it was pretty surreal to be back in that same position and playing against them. I have really strong relationships with a bunch of those girls. Once we were on the field it all washes away and I could focus on the game. I have all the respect in the world for the Red Stars and am grateful for everything they’ve done for me in my career, but I am happy to beat them at the end of the day.”

Q: What were your initial feelings winning the title and where does this rank with other achievements you have earned as a player over your career?

Naughton: “When the whistle blew and we won, I just lifted my hands in the air and had such a sense of excitement, relief and happiness. Then, just celebrating with the girls in the locker room and lifting the trophy up was awesome. This is at the top for me. I actually haven’t really won anything before to this extent, so it is really exciting to have a big title now and I am so proud to have done it with the Dash.”

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