HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former Rainbow Wahine soccer stand-out, Raisa Strom-Okimoto made her professional debut last Friday for the Utah Royals.
“It was a once in a lifetime moment for me,” Strom-Okimoto said. “I was nervous, I was excited, I just had a lot of emotions going on in that moment. For being here from the preseason, it was just nice to finally get some minutes”
Strom-Okimoto got in during second-half stoppage time in the 0-0 match against the Portland Thorns. The Aiea native getting a taste of the new speed of the game.
“Coming from the University of Hawaii,” Strom-Okimoto said. “It's just a lot faster and quicker, you've got to think one step ahead, that's kind of what I'm working on, it's what I've learned from being here.”
The former Na Ali’i is unsure of how many minutes she will get throughout the season but she stays prepared for whatever comes her way.
“My mindset is to just stay ready no matter what,” Strom-Okimoto said. “My time could come soon so every single game I go in with that mentality. Even though i have that mentality, it's still nerve racking, it's still a lot of emotions.”
The emotions were shared with her friends, family and coaches who flooded her phone with texts and calls congratulating her on the accomplishment.
“It's just so awesome to see the amount of support, being so far from home, no matter what they are always going to support me and cheer me on.” Strom-Okimoto said.
The Aiea Graduate was signed to the squad in early May, after they lost some of their key players to the Women’s World Cup.
This was the first milestone for the former Wahine in her young career, setting an example for the soccer players back home, that have the ambition to play their game at the next level.
“For the players back home who want to do the same thing that I’m doing or play professional soccer,” Strom-Okimoto said. “Just keep working hard and just follow your dreams no matter what because you never know when you have that window of opportunity and when you have it just be ready.”
The Utah Royals next match takes place this Friday, against the Seattle Reign, with kickoff set for 5:00 p.m. Hawaii time.