PHILADELPHIA – With the 2nd overall pick in the 2014 National Women’s Soccer League Draft, the Houston Dash selected forward Kealia Ohai out of the University of North Carolina.
Ohai already has some Houston ties as she is the sister-in-law of Houston Texans star linebacker Brian Cushing.
“Getting drafted in the first round was amazing,” Ohai said. “Coming to Houston, which is my favorite place in the world and being with my brother-in-law and my sister is incredible.”
In addition to Ohai, the Dash also selected forward Rafaelle Souza, defender Marissa Diggs and midfielder Jordan Jackson in the club’s first college draft and acquired midfielder Nikki Washington via trade.
"I am so excited about today's draft,” Dash head coach Randy Waldrum said. “I couldn't have asked for things to fall into place so well. It was an amazing day for the Dash. Starting with the selection of Kealia Ohai, we got one of the nation’s best forwards. She has great pace, is extremely athletic, and can really stretch defenses with her speed. She is a proven player at the U-20 and U-23 national team level, and will be a great addition to our team.”
Ohai’s sister Megan played soccer at USC. The two had been discussing the possibility of one day playing in Houston and luckily, everything worked out perfectly.
“We thought there was no way Chris (Canetti) would be able to get it done by this year because there was so much work to be done,” Ohai said. “But then, he and Brian (Ching) were able to get it done and when I found out they had the second pick, then I was super excited.”
Cushing, for one, is also excited to have another professional athlete in the family.
“Obviously we found out that one, they’re having a team and two, they were drafting her, it was incredible,” Cushing said. “We’ll be at a lot of games and hopefully some of my teammates will be there. She will have a great impact on the city and we’re excited to see it.”
Ohai is also hoping the Texans tie works out in the teams favor.
“I think that’s going to be a good thing for the Dash because hopefully with our connection with the Texans, we’ll be able to get a lot of them to games and create a good fan base,” Ohai said. “The NWSL is growing so much and I think if we could just get fans to the game, then I think they’ll realize it’s a really fun thing.”
On Twitter, some of Cushing’s teammates have already expressed their support, including defensive end J.J. Watt.