Former Buckeye Devon Kerr Ready for 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup

Brendan Gulick

Few people question whether our society misses sports. Fans have been waiting for good news for months. Every time it feels like things are beginning to normalize, another reason pops up to be skeptical. Schools across the country are trying to adhere to all appropriate policies, but it’s hard to contain 18-to-21-year-old student-athletes who feel invincible.

Professional teams certainly aren’t immune to the virus, but they are likely returning to competition before the amateurs do. In fact, a few professional sports have said they will return soon, but the first team sports league to actually dip their toes in the water is the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

Former Ohio State goalkeeper Devon Kerr is one of three Buckeyes in the league and for the time being, she isn’t concerned about the next few weeks.

“I don’t (have any anxiety going into the tournament) and I think it’s because the NWSL has done such an amazing job,” Kerr told BuckeyesNow this week. “First and foremost, they made sure we knew the tournament was completely optional. If players don’t feel safe, they don’t have to participate and nothing would be held against you … they constantly outlined the safety protocols they have in place for us pre-tournament, on the way to the tournament, during the tournament and post-tournament. Perhaps there were nerves a few weeks ago about how this would come together … but they’ve been incredible.”

On Saturday, the NWSL kicks off an abbreviated 2020 season in Utah. Dubbed the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, eight teams (the Orlando Pride withdrew) will play 23 games between June 27 and July 26 to determine this year’s league champion. Each team will play four games before they are seeded for the quarterfinals on July 17.

Kerr and the Washington Spirit open the competition on Saturday at 10 PM Eastern against the Chicago Red Stars.

It’s been a bumpy road the last couple of months, but Kerr said she and her team have worked through some of the early training struggles. The Spirit preseason camp in Florida was shut down by the virus after only one day together. They had uncertainty about what they could do, where they were allowed to go, whether they could do anything together and whether they’d be allowed to go back home. But all of that has settled now with new protocols in place and the team is prepared for the season to begin Saturday.

Kerr is a proud Ohio State alum and has enjoyed spending time with former teammates Nichelle Prince and Lindsay Agnew, who also compete in the league. Kerr was the 2018 Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year and earned All-American honors and helped lead the team to a conference title.

“Ohio State was just incredible,” Kerr said. “I loved my team, I loved my coach – Lori (Walker-Hock) and I are quite close. She is such an amazing coach and really pushed me to be the best athlete and human being I could be … Ohio State was amazing, I have some great memories there with my teammates … it was just a really great program to be a part of and I will forever be grateful for them.”

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