Naomi Girma’s journey, support system led her to USWNT opportunity

Naomi Girma’s journey, support system led her to USWNT opportunity



If you drive through a canyon, past a candle shop cloaked in wandering vines, and turn down a dirt road, you enter the Del Mar Polo Fields, training home of the NWSL’s San Diego Wave. It’s also home to the Surf Cup and many other youth cups—and for quite a few of these Wave players, this place holds sentimental power: They grew up dreaming on these fields.

Now, as professionals, they have their own designated field, with a clubhouse in the works. Hills and eucalyptus trees rise up in the distance. Manager Casey Stoney, a former English national team player, can ride her bicycle to practice. There’s a breeze, sunshine and that distinct SoCal aura of laidback ease, of calm assuredness.

Naomi Girma, the 22-year-old center back orchestrating the Wave’s backline, embodies that calm. She is 5’7″ and Ethiopian American, with a wide, radiant smile and a svelte, silky way of moving. Like all great players, she seems a touch clairvoyant, solving the play ahead of time. One prescient shift left or right and the forward has nothing, no opening, no space, no ball. The Stanford grad with a 3.92 GPA majored in symbolic systems—which has something to do with the science of the mind and the development of artificial intelligence—and watching her read space, you sense she’s gleaned a superior understanding of both angles and human impulse. 

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