Tobin Heath gets his first training session with OL Reign

It is indeed hot there as a heat wave sweeps through the Pacific Northwest. But at Bellarmine High School, where OL Reign hold their training sessions, a Heath wave has just started as recently signed winger Tobin Heath had his first training session with the club today.

Heath has signed with OL Reign after the club acquired his NWSL playing rights in a swap deal with Racing Louisville, which will see the USA international winger play the remainder of the 2022 NWSL season here, with an option to stay next year .

“Yeah, that was awesome; nice day here,” Heath told the media after Monday’s session. “It’s great to be with everyone. It’s always a bit overwhelming on the first day. Lots of people, lots of new faces, but everyone was super welcoming. The session was cold. So, yes, it was awesome.

“We always knew that when Tobin came in we were going to manage her a bit and go back because she hasn’t played in a while,” OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey said during the interview. evaluation of Heath’s first training. “But, you see right away his quality and his class and I think his experience, his ability, his understanding of what it takes [to win] in this league is also going to be an amazing trait.

Seeing Heath dress up in OL Reign training gear and train alongside former rivals now teammates Jess Fishlock and Lauren Barnes might be surreal for many fans, who have seen them face off several times over the years in Cascadia rivalry matches.

“I loved playing against them. They are great competitors, very good players. I also love them as people, but playing with them, obviously, is fantastic. I don’t mind not playing against jess [Fishlock] more, and Lu [Barnes] is ranked. I always say she’s the sweetest outside in the league. So yeah, it’s really great to be on the pitch with these players, rather than against them,” Heath said.

While it was only a rumor that Heath could join Reigns, the club did not comment. Soon the official announcement came – Tobin Heath was joining OL Reign. Heath did not go into detail on Monday about how the move happened, simply saying, “I knew I was going to come back to the NWSL and I spoke with Laura, spoke with the players and I thought it would be a good suit for me this season.

This won’t be the first time Harvey and Heath have worked together. When Harvey was the head coach of the United States U-20 Women’s National Team, she worked with Heath on his rehabputting her fitness where it needed to be so she could make the USWNT team at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, where she made six appearances and recorded one assist.

Heath was at Arsenal before joining OL Reign, and while playing at the club she had long been a fan of was on her to-do list, it was cut short by a hamstring injury. Asked today about his recovery from the injury, Heath said: “I feel good. Obviously I have to get back in shape and start playing again, but that’s the exciting part of being back on the pitch.

Another Arsenal player is set to join OL Reign – midfielder Kim Little was announced on May 29 to go on a short-term loan spell, but there is still final visa processing to be done before she cannot really enter the United States and dress with Reign OL. The team unfortunately had no news to share on this process today, simply noting that everything is in the hands of the US State Department.

Eventually it will happen, and Heath looks forward to the brief reunion with Little. “Kim is awesome. She’s classy, ​​so it would be really awesome. It was a nice and unexpected thing for both of us. I really loved my time with her, so it’ll be a great little spell together.

Yesterday the annual Pride Parade took place in downtown Seattle. Harvey, OL Reign players and staff took part in the parade, as well as staff from Sounders FC. Sometimes the schedule hasn’t worked out where OL Reign are in town to fully participate in Pride activities throughout June, highlighted of course by the parade through the town centre, so the club make the most of it when he can. Head coach Laura Harvey spoke about the importance to the club and to herself as a queer woman of participating in the parade, particularly in the context of the US Supreme Court ruling last week to undo Roe vs. Wade, undoing 50 years of progress. for women’s rights and health care.

“I think that since I arrived [to the United States] I feel super lucky to have been able to authentically live who I am. I sometimes take that for granted because we live in a state that is welcoming and open to everyone. Yesterday was a special event. It still does, but I think even more so because of what happened last week. I think there was an added vibe around it of people believing what they believe is right, and part of that is allowing people to be who they are, allowing people to make their own choices and that what they do with their lives and their bodies. ”

This Friday, when OL Reign returns to Lumen Field to host North Carolina Courage, will be the club’s Pride match. Harvey commented on the importance of the club always having a Pride match.

“I think it’s huge. You know, I think again, we kind of take that for granted. Our environment is very inclusive. The club has always been very inclusive. We live in a very inclusive place. I think we sometimes take that for granted, but I think you know when you hear other people’s life stories and how hard it’s been for them, and even the people in our locker room have that story I think , you know, that makes it even more important and I hope everyone will come out and support it.

Ahead of OL Reign’s training session today, the club announced that striker Zsani Kaján had moved to ACF Fiorentina in Italy. Kaján was OL Reign’s first choice, selected 8th overall, in the NWSL Draft last December, but did not make a regular season appearance for the club. Asked about the move and specifically whether it’s a transfer rather than a loan, Harvey said: “We want Zsani to go play and get some games. The club [ACF Fiorentina] I really wanted it to be more of a longer-term thing and I think maybe it will prepare her to come back to the league. Europe is a good place for it to grow. It was in America that she really wanted to try her luck, and she did well when she was here, but she just needed to play games.

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Richard V. Johnson