Erin Beck doesn’t know how long she’ll play soccer after she graduates next May, but this summer, she’ll be playing alongside the country’s top players in the newly formed Women’s Premier Soccer League Elite.
Beck, a rising senior on the Penn women’s soccer team, will spend the coming months as a midfielder for the Philadelphia Fever, a first-year team in the WPSL Elite.
“It’s a great opportunity for Erin,” said Penn coach Darren Ambrose, who believes Beck will have an opportunity to continue playing after college if she wishes. “We don’t know what her long-term plans are, but she’s someone who we really want to see if she can play overseas after she graduates, and this is a great opportunity to start that thought process.”
The Fever are one of eight teams in the WPSL Elite, which replaced the folded Women’s Professional Soccer as the top-tier women’s soccer league in the United States. Along with the ASA Chesapeake Charge, the Fever are one of two amateur-only organizations — to remain eligible, NCAA athletes cannot be paid. The other six teams are professional.
As recently as the spring, Beck, who intended to remain on campus and enroll in summer courses, still didn’t know what her plans were for summer soccer.
“It just kind of fell into my lap,” she said.
The Fever coaches got in contact with Ambrose and came out to watch a spring game. Beck obviously made an impression, as did her teammates Sarah Banks and Kathryn Barth, who are joining her on the club this summer.
Playing for the Fever appealed to Beck for a number of reasons: the competition is top-notch, the coaches understood the importance of staying fresh for the fall and the schedule is flexible.
“My availability to be at everything is obviously limited because I have class when they have practice, but they’re really accommodating,” Beck says. “They have a really good sense that the girls who are playing here over the summer can’t get worn out and can’t come back in the fall season with bumps and bruises.”
Come September, when Beck and her teammates begin their quest to reclaim the Ivy crown, Ambrose believes this summer experience will pay dividends.
“If you don’t play for a few months you can get rusty. And not only is she playing, but she’s playing with good players at a good level,” Ambrose said. “I think it will allow her to come in and not miss a beat.”
Beck agrees with her coach.
“It’s always a great challenge to play with types of players who have different styles and different personalities. All of those things help me become a more well-rounded player.”
And while Ambrose acknowledges that Beck will need a few weeks off to recharge between the conclusion of the WPSL Elite season and the beginning of Penn practice in August, he was never reluctant to have his first-team All-Ivy selection participate in the league.
“It was a no-brainer. If she was going to be in town and they were looking for her to play, she was one that would really want to be on that team.”
The consummate team player, Beck said her only personal goal this fall is to win every single game. Playing for the Fever will help her improve and potentially propel her and her team to achieve that this fall. But what lies after that?
“My ambition is to go to dental school, so I’m trying to find a balance between soccer and this phase of my life and taking the step to the next phase. It would be really great to continue playing, and I’ll guess we’ll see where I am after the season.”
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