I sat around last weekend during some much-needed vacation time in St. Petersburg Beach and racked my brains out.
Trying to figure out, with all of the remarkable talent that has come down the pike over the last 20-plus years from the boys and girls soccer programs at Miami Springs High School, if anyone had ever actually gone on to collect a paycheck for their talents.
Perhaps Abby Carr, currently starring at Vanderbilt coming up on her last season might at some point soon, but we couldn’t come up with a single one from the deep past.
Which is why Dallas Carter gets to step up onto a pedestal all by herself.
Last January her old club coach, Aguinaldo “GuiGui” Ferreira, from her days playing for the Weston Fury in Broward County called and asked if she would like to travel to Houston for a tryout with the Houston Aces of the WPSL-Elite (Women’s Professional Soccer League).
Not only did Carter wind up making the team, but started all season long at left fullback. The Aces then spent all of April through July “running the deck” enroute to a perfect 21-0 record and subsequent berth in the WPSL championship game. Last Sunday night, the Aces quest for a perfect season came to a tough end when they were nipped 2-1 by the San Diego Sea Lions in Sacramento, California.
Whether it was a 22-0 championship season or 21-1 runnerup finish probably isn’t that big of deal when anyone looks at the journey Carter has gone through to reach the level she has.
“I think it hit me after the first game when I had some little kids come up to me and ask me for my autograph,” Carter said from her hotel room in Sacramento, hours before her team would take the field on Saturday and defeat the New England Mutiny 4-1 in the semifinals which got them into the title game. “It was so cool and it made me realize just how special this whole thing was going to be and it really has been quite a ride and a lot of fun.”
The daughter of Virginia Gardens residents Michelle and Jimmy Carter, the latter being the VG Rec Director, Dallas was a mega-star during her four-year tenure playing for the MSSH girls soccer team but not without major hurdles to clear.
In between her freshman and sophomore season, she blew out an ACL in her left knee and would miss the entire following season, having to watch her team make it all the way to the state final four while hobbling around on crutches.
Following junior and senior seasons that garnered her First-Team All-County honors, she was off to Nova Southeastern University in Davie in 2010 where, not long into her freshman year, the right ACL went and with it came another lost season.
“Things kind of fell apart after that and I wound up leaving the program,” Carter said. “I took a year off after that and that’s when the phone rang last January and it was coach Perreira on the other end.”
And off she went, fixed knees and all.
Not only was playing professionally going to be a challenge but, having just turned 21, Carter was the youngest player on the roster.
The salaries are modest, around $1,500 a month according to Carter, but the hope is that bigger paydays await in the near future.
“The NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) is where you ultimately want to wind up,” Carter said. “Hopefully after the season we’ve had here in Houston, the league will consider us for entry into the league.”