Liz Bogus answered the question like most children do — without regard for whether or not their desired career choice is actually a possibility.

"It was my brother who asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up," said the 24-year-old Brighton High graduate. "I said, 'A professional soccer player.' He didn't tell me there wasn't a league or anything. He just said, 'That's cool. But you will have to work pretty hard."'

It was 1996, and the 12-year-old was blissfully unaware that playing soccer for a living in the U.S. was not an option for women at that time.

By the time she graduated from high school in 2002, there was a professional league for women — the WUSA. The league never enjoyed widespread support, and eventually financial struggles forced officials to suspend operations and disband teams in 2004.

While former WUSA players and officials worked to revive the league, girls like Liz Bogus continued to play soccer (Arizona State and semi-pro leagues) and dream big.

After graduating from Arizona State University in 2006, Bogus began working for the Olympic Training Facility in Colorado.

"Leading up to graduation I was kind of scared," said Bogus, who plays forward and midfielder. "I kept hoping the league would come back, and we kept hearing rumors that it would."

She played on a semi-pro W League team in Colorado in the summer of 2007, and as those rumors evolved into facts and announcements, Bogus decided if she really wanted to play professional soccer, her effort was going to have to match her desire.

"If I wanted to make it, I knew I'd have to really commit myself to it," she said.

That meant quitting her job in Colorado and moving to California to play for the W League's Pali Blues. She said not only was the team made up of very talented players, but they were all very committed to serious, rigorous training.

"That part was pretty tough," she said. "I saved my money, used my tax refund and worked a little for my uncle. I was also lucky to find part-time work at soccer clinics."

Pali Blues won the W League championship this summer, and then this fall, it was announced that the newly revived league, now the Women's Professional Soccer League, would begin drafting players for seven teams in September.

After the WPS allotted three national team players to every team and drafted four rounds of international players to each of the seven teams, a combine was held where hopefuls worked out for coaches. Then a four-round general draft was scheduled for Oct. 6.

More players will be drafted in January 2009 after a second combine, and Bogus thought that was where she might actually earn a spot on a team.

"All of the teams had taken a lot of attacking players (offensive), so I thought they'd pick defenders and goalies," she said. "I thought I'd have a better chance in January."

On draft day, Bogus and her teammates went to a local coffee shop to watch the selections online as they did not have Internet service in their apartments. When they couldn't get online, Bogus called her mother, Brooke Adams, in Salt Lake City, and asked her to read the names from the Web site as they appeared. In the third round of the four-round draft, Adams began screaming something.

"I couldn't even really understand what she was saying," said Bogus with a little laugh. "But I was pretty sure I'd been drafted. It was pretty exciting. I was shaking, and my mom was shouting, and then my mom's phone hung up. It was a crazy feeling."

Crazy to know that desire she had at age 12 wasn't just a misplaced, childhood fantasy. Or maybe it was the realization that even a childhood fantasy can become reality with enough hard work.

"It does feel a little weird," she said. "It's been a dream of mine since I was 12 years old. ... That was the first time I said this was my goal. ... I have worked for this for so long, it does feel sort of weird now."

The secret to her success, she said, isn't just natural talent.

"I have some natural ability, some athleticism," she said, acknowledging her father, Tom Bogus, did play soccer for BYU. "But a lot of it did not come natural to me. I had to work very, very hard to get technical skills. I spent a lot of time working on those aspects."

And there were many times Bogus wondered whether competitive soccer would be part of her future at all.

"It was a scary, sad thought," she said. "Is there a future in the game for me? I know I can coach and play for fun, but I like training and playing where you're really working toward something. It wasn't a question of whether I wanted to do it. It was just a question of whether there would be an opportunity available."


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