The Washington Spirit have signed Chloe Ricketts, the youngest ever player in the NWSL, to a three-year contract with an option for 2026, the team announced today.
Ricketts comes from Dexter, MI, and previously played for AFC Ann Arbor in the USL W League, a pre-professional women’s soccer league where she also broke a club record for youngest player. In the 2022 season, Ricketts contributed two goals and two assists for AFC Ann Arbor, including this beauty that won Goal of the Month last May.
Before joining the USL W, Ricketts played youth soccer with the Michigan Tigers FC 2006 Girls and Michigan Tigers FC 2007 Boys Gold, which both performed well during her time there. The Boys team won the Michigan State Cup and the National League Great Lakes Conference, while the Girls advanced in the ECNL National Finals.
Washington first announced they had invited Ricketts to train with them when they release their preseason roster in late January. Since then, she has clearly impressed Head Coach Mark Parsons and other Spirit staff in training, becoming the team’s first rookie signing of the season.
“This season, we remain very focused on building a roster that can help us succeed now while also investing in the future,” Parsons said. “Chloe has shown great quality with and without the ball and has an incredible intensity in everything she does.”
At age 15 years and 283 days, Ricketts is just three days younger than the previous record-holder, Olivia Moultrie, who was 15 years and 286 days old when she signed a contract with the Portland Thorns. Moultrie was only permitted to join the Thorns in 2021 after filing an antitrust lawsuit against the league, which at the time prohibited players under the age of 18.
The NWSL introduced new rules for Under-18 players for the 2023 season. Under those rules, teams are able to place up to two players under the age of 18 on an Entry List and must sign a player placed on the list within 30 days to a contract term that extends through the season the player turns 18. Minors signed to an NWSL team must live with a parent or guardian until they turn 18 and cannot be waived or traded without permission of the parent or guardian, or chosen in an expansion draft.
According to the Spirit, Ricketts will continue her high school coursework remotely during the season. The club’s expanded player support staff, meanwhile, will be on hand to monitor Ricketts’s training and development and hopefully to support her through any challenges associated with becoming a professional athlete at such a young age.
“The opportunity to join the Washington Spirit on a professional contract is a dream come true. I’m looking forward to continuing my development as a player and individual with the great resources here in the District. Having the chance to work with Dawn Scott (Performance, Medical and Innovation) and Head Coach Mark Parsons as I begin my professional career is exciting, and I can’t wait to do my part in contributing to the club’s success… Now, let’s go win another championship!”Chloe Ricketts, source: Washington Spirit
Welcome to D.C., Chloe!