UCF alumna Kim (Newsome) Reynolds walked into the Orlando Pride locker room for the July 10 match against Boston, just as she had on many gamedays before as an amateur member of the team.
Normally, the amateur players are there to offer moral support to the rostered members of the team. This time, though, she rounded the corner and was greeted by a No. 20 jersey with her name on it.
Six days earlier, while on a mission trip in Haiti, the former Knight found out she was being called up for her first National Women’s Soccer League match in her hometown.
“To wear Orlando across my chest has been a dream of mine for years now. I never thought it would come true,” Reynolds said. “To see how God has opened the doors to my dreams at a later time in my life, I couldn’t be happier or more honored to represent this city.”
Reynolds earned a spot as an amateur player for the Pride after competing through open tryouts in March. Amateur players are members of the team but are not paid. They train with the main roster, can serve as representatives of the team, attend gamedays and on occasion, there is an opportunity to be called up to fill a vacant spot from a missing professional player.
Reynolds grew up in Apopka and lives in Mount Dora with her husband, Jim, whom she married when she was a junior at UCF, and 4-year-old son, Micah. It was her husband who encouraged Reynolds to try out for the team.
“When that announcement went viral regarding the Pride, my husband called me and said, ‘Honey, did you see what was just announced?! What are you going to do? I think you should go for it,’” she recalled. “If it weren’t for my husband pushing me daily and believing in me and believing that I can keep going, I wouldn’t have made it this far. There were many times I felt like giving up. However, my husband would remind me, ‘I’m in this with you 100 percent. I know you can do this.’”
Her journey to see this dream realized started years earlier.
Reynolds was a key competitor for the Knights from 2010-11 after emerging as a two-time NJCAA and NSCAA All-American at Polk Community College. She was an all-conference and NSCAA All-Central Region honoree, helping lead UCF to two Conference USA regular-season championships and a pair of NCAA Tournament second round appearances.
At the conclusion of her senior season she trained for a month with the New Jersey Sky Blue before finishing school and starting her family. She earned her interdisciplinary studies degree in 2011.
She is now the physical education teacher and athletic director of One School for the Arts, a Christian school in Longwood.
Still, she never drifted too far away from soccer and managed to keep the sport in her life by playing in a summer women’s premier soccer league.
Then she heard the news of the NWSL expansion team, and Reynolds found herself on the pitch for her first tryout with the Pride on March 14.
“I knew that my level of play wasn’t as high as it was when in college. I also knew that my fitness wasn’t anywhere near where it used to be,” she said. “Not knowing when an Orlando team would present itself, I barely had time to prepare physically and mentally.”
She was elated when the coaching staff recognized her foot skills, which she attributes learning in her club days under UCF Coach Jim Powell.
She has developed meaningful relationships with several teammates, seeking advice when she has struggled with lack of confidence.
And yes, she has interacted closely with U.S. Women’s National Team stars, the Pride’s Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris.
“It’s awesome having them to train with. As an amateur player, I was blessed to come aboard and be a part of history,” she said. “Those two, as well as all of the others, push each other in practices to better ourselves.”
Her biggest Pride highlight so far, of course, was the July 10 game. She received hundreds of messages from her friends and family in the days leading up to the match.
“Just to stand on the field, warm up and look around and hear people screaming my name; my son and my husband cheering me on regardless if I played or not – it was a moment I got to take in,” she said. “Being able to step on that grass and wave to my home crowd was just so unbelievable.”
She said she has loved to watch Orlando transform into a true soccer city with the growth of Orlando City and the Pride. She is quick to tell others where she is from, and stays true to her Black and Gold roots.
“Many people ask why I never left. It was a no brainer for me,” she said. “For me to be connected to UCF, which is ranked high academically and in athletics, I’m still so proud to be known as a Knight.”