Feb. 11, 2002
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The Carolina Courage selected a winner with the first overall pick in Monday's WUSA Draft.
Santa Clara defender Danielle Slaton was instrumental in leading the Broncos to the 2001 college national championship, and as the top pick in the 2002 WUSA Draft, she is hoping to lead the Courage to the same kind of success this year.
"It's kind of a shock. I am so excited to be able to know where I am going to go. I am very flattered to be the number one pick," said Slaton.
The fact that the team Santa Clara beat in the national championship, North Carolina, plays just minutes down the road from the Courage in Chapel Hill is not lost on Slaton. Still, the 5'6" central defender says she is leaving all the feeling of her college rivalry behind as she concentrates her on her bright professional future.
"I love North Carolina. I went on a recruiting trip there, and I was very close to going there. I am not feeling any animosity," Slaton laughed. "I am glad we won the College Cup. I just love the world right now."
Her immediate future also includes staying on target to graduate with her degree in Biology. She will finish up her exams at Santa Clara in mid-March, which may mean some cross-country trips back and forth from the Bay Area to Raleigh. Having already missed class time on her trip to China, Slaton only flew into Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday for the draft so she would not miss any more.
"I took some quarters off when I was in Sydney, but I am in classes now. Our exams are in the middle of March, but I am still on track to get my diploma," said Slaton.
Slaton brings some impressive credentials to the Courage, including a silver medal she won as a member of the U.S. national team at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. A co-captain for Santa Clara in 2001, she was a finalist for both the NSCAA/adidas MAC Player of the Year award and the Hermann Trophy. With her guidance, as well as Atlanta's number seven overall draft pick, Anna Kraus, the Broncos were also the seventh best defensive team in the country, allowing just 15 goals in 25 games.
Slaton's 2001 season was made all the more remarkable by her quick recovery from off-season knee surgery, which fixed an articular cartilage defect in her right knee. She never missed a game on the road to the national championship, scoring two goals and adding 11 assists. Even though she missed nine matches in her junior year at the Olympics, she ended her four-year career at Santa Clara with eight goals and 34 assists.
She will be only 22 in June, but the San Jose native already has appeared 26 times for the national team, including all three games in the United States' recent participation in the Four Nations Women's Tournament in China in January. She already has her sights set on earning a spot of the U.S. roster for the 2003 Women's World Cup in China.
Slaton will not have far to go to discuss the national team, as she can look to her new teammate and former U.S. defender Carla Overbeck, who will likely line-up alongside her this season. The chance to play with experienced veterans is the thing that most excited Slaton about playing for the Courage.
"They have so many great players like Carla Overbeck and Danielle Fotopoulos, and they have some awesome foreign players like Hege Riise so I am just excited to be a part of that," said Slaton.
© TEAMtalk 2002