Delaney Graham action shot while playing for Duke

The Washington Spirit entered the 2023 NWSL Draft with just two picks. Thanks to a flurry of activity after the first round, they ended up selecting six intriguing talents. Recently, we got to chat with each Spirit draft pick to get the inside scoop on their draft experience, their role with the team, their game, and what they’re looking forward to about life in DC.

The newly drafted Washington Spirit and 40th overall pick, Delaney Graham in her own words:

On January 12th the Washington Spirit drafted six players. Delaney Graham, a former Duke University Blue Devil, was one of those players. Graham, a Duke graduate and three-time Academic All-American, had a career high of 5 assists in her final year at Duke. The midfielder played in a total of 105 games, totaling 8,851 minutes played.

The Draft Night Experience

The night Graham was drafted she was a bit relieved.

“After having knee surgery, I was able to be at home with my family on draft night. I’m originally from Atlanta, and after going to college at Duke, being drafted by the Spirit, an east coast team specifically, was a bit of a relief. I’ve spent my entire life on the east coast, so I was definitely a bit relieved by that.”

What goals do you have for your first season as a pro?

“Because I’m starting my time with the Spirit a little late due to my injury, my main goals for this season are to remain healthy, return to playing at my best, and discover my role on the team. I plan to come to training each day ready to give my all, and I hope that this will make not only myself, but also my new teammates, better players. Overall, I hope to contribute to the team both on and off the field with my work ethic and positive attitude.”

What are you looking forward to about playing with the Spirit?

“From my conversations with the coaching staff so far, it’s clear that the Spirit is a high-intensity, high-pressing team. I feel that my personal skill set will fit in very well with this team’s on-field identity, so I’m very excited to see how I’ll be able to contribute. I’m also thrilled about living in D.C. and playing at Audi Field.”

Is there a particular player or staff member you’re excited to work with?

“I’m very excited to get to play with Gabby Carle. We played on the same side of the field in when we played each other in college, and it was usually a battle. I’m honestly very happy that I no longer have to play against her and instead will get to play with her!”

How would you describe your play style?

“I would describe my play style as relentless. I’m extremely hard working, tough, and athletic. My mentality is the reason I never give up on a play, as well as the reason I’m willing to do that extra sprint to overlap a teammate or lay my body out to block a shot even when I’m exhausted.”

What should Spirit fans expect to see from you?

“Spirit fans should expect to see a fast, intense, and determined winger who’s capable of working up and down the sideline the entire game to put solid crosses into the box for my teammates or make strong 1v1 tackles to protect our goal.”

How Do You Spend Your Off-Time?

Having heard of her recent operation, I asked how Graham likes to spend her time off the pitch.

“Since having surgery, I’ve had a lot of downtime. There’s usually a show or something I could catch up on, but I also enjoy singing.”

Graham has a history of singing the National Anthem at Duke’s games, but also mentioned looking forward to exploring Washington D.C. and getting to training camp.

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