HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The National Women’s Soccer League sits at the top tier of the sport for women players in the United States, and Hawaii has a firm foothold.
“We get to play with some of the best players in the world,” Raisa Strom-Okimoto said.
She plays for the Kansas City team.
Caprice Dydasco plays for the league’s New Jersey/New York franchise.
She’s a seven-year veteran of the NWSL and has overcome ACL injuries and a broken jaw to remain in the game. She said that comes with the territory.
“It’s been an amazing experience traveling and meeting new people, and learning about myself on and off the field,” she said.
They play with and compete against some of the best women soccer players on the planet, many of whom represent the U.S. in the World Cup..
“You need to be fit and physically strong,” Strom-Okimoto said. “The technical, tactical side is just a whole level up compared to college.”
University of Hawaii soccer coach Michele Nagamine coached both of them at different stages in their soccer development. She said the common denominator is their work ethic.
“You have to combine that with just that mental toughness as well. I think that’s something that both Carpice and Raisa had in common,” she said.
Strom-Okimoto graduated from Aiea High School and played for U.H. She said playing the pro game is serious business.
“Playing professional is a job. You’re not playing for fun as much anymore,” she said.
Dydasco graduated from Kamehameha Schools and played for ULCA. She fell in love with soccer as a four-year-old..
“I grew up in a family that loved soccer, so it just was in my DNA to love soccer,” she said.
Alli LIpsher, the goalkeeper coach for Kansas City, is also from Hawaii. She played for four seasons in the NWSL and also played internationally. So Strom-Okimoto has that local connection. She has also gotten together with Dydasco..
“There were a couple of times in the off-season where we got together and trained. It was nice to have a training partner at that level,” she said.
It’s more than just enjoying playing the beautiful game. They know what they achieved can inspire youngsters back home.
“Even when I’m done playing soccer I would love to move back to Hawaii and help grow the soccer community,” Dydasco said.
The pandemic forced the NWSL to shorten its season last year. This year the league scheduled a full slate of games. Strom-Okimoto and Dydasco are anxious for the action to start.