SANDY — The first part of Gaby Vincent’s Twitter bio might be due for an update, but the last part is particularly apt for this time in her life.
The opening two words on the Utah Royals FC rookie center back’s social media page describing herself read “aspiring professional,” while the last sentence is a quote credited to English mathematician and scientist Alan Turing which says, “Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”
Vincent is officially a professional soccer player, but given the path she took to get to this point, it might be fair to say not too many people thought she could get here.
As the 21-year-old from Columbia, Maryland expected, she went undrafted in January but received invitations to a number of team tryouts. She was planning on attending as many as she could, but URFC’s was first on her schedule on Feb. 17.
That day, it was readily apparent to head coach Laura Harvey that Vincent was a center back, yes, but one who possessed the ability to pass. Harvey recognized that as a need for her team, and Vincent was ultimately invited to training camp and then made the regular-season roster, with Harvey regularly mentioning her as a player who would eventually make an impact on the field.
With center backs Becky Sauerbrunn and Rachel Corsie off to represent the United States and Scotland, respectively, in the World Cup, Vincent is now getting the chance to show what she can do, and she’s seizing the opportunity.
She played the second half of the May 19 1-1 road draw against the North Carolina Courage when Sam Johnson went down with an injury, and then got her first start last Saturday in URFC’s 2-0 home victory over the Orlando Pride.
“It’s hard for me to describe,” she said after the game of starting and playing the whole thing. “I’m still shocked, like did that really just happen? My teammates, coaches, they did a great job preparing me for a 90-minute game. When it came my time to step in, I felt prepared.”
Even though Vincent didn’t expect to get drafted, she said it was still a bit of a blow to her ego when it didn’t happen, and like many athletes do, she’s using that to fuel her.
“I think I go in every day with that mentality, with that chip on my shoulder like, ‘Maybe I don’t deserve to be here,’ but I worked so hard to make myself deserve to be here and I think the coaches recognize my work ethic,” she said. “They trust me now. They’ve seen me playing for a few months and I think they trust me enough to put me in the game.”
With her offensive skills already solid, Harvey said the big work for Vincent at this point is learning what it takes to be a high-caliber player from a defensive perspective.
“We’ve just had to help her and develop her and coach her,” Harvey said after the Orlando game. “Players help her, just in terms of how diligent you’ve got to be defensively ... the games can turn on a head, and I felt that she did really well. I felt last week she did great and I think this week she did great.”Comment on this story
For Vincent, though, it’s not good enough that she is doing well early in her career. She wants to keep getting better and keep showing she's capable of sticking in the NWSL. Incidentally, her next opportunity to do that will come Saturday about 40 miles from where she's from as URFC takes on the Washington Spirit in a battle of the two teams atop the NWSL table.
“I don’t want to just make the team. I want to be effective on the team. I want to make a difference. I want to be an impact player for this team,” she said. “That’s always been in the back of my mind. That’s the goal that I’m trying to get to.”