The Chicago Red Stars made history when they selected UCLA forward Zakiya Bywaters as the first pick in the inaugural NWSL college draft Friday. "I'm very excited and honored to be here and be honored by being the number one pick,” Bywaters said during a conference call while the draft was still taking place.
"Zakiya possesses a great combination of technique and pace," Red Stars head coach Rory Dames said via press release. "She has the ability to play multiple positions and we believe she will push hard for future National Team call-ups."
Bywaters did not lack for confidence, she described what fans could expect from her this way, “A lot of passing, a lot of speed, I’m very quick and creative, I think I will bring a lot of excitement to the game.”
A Las Vegas native, Bywaters made 88 starts in 92 appearances in her four-year college career for the Bruins and was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2012. As a senior, the speedy Bywaters led the Pac-12 in goals (15), points (34) and game-winning goals (6). A slick dribbler who proved to be extremely dangerous in one-on-one situations throughout her college career, she helped UCLA compile a record of 18-3-2 while earning a berth into the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. She was a 2012 First-Team NSCAA All-American selection and was named to the All-Pacific Region team for the second consecutive season. Her 21 career assists and five career multi-goal games both rank seventh best in school history.
A regular with the U.S. Youth National Teams, Bywaters was a member of the team that won the CONCACAF U-20 Championships in Guatemala in 2010 and played in all four games for the USA at the 2010 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup in Germany, scoring against Switzerland. She finished her U-20 career with 21 international appearances and three goals. She also played for the U.S. U-17 National Team in 2008.