HERNDON, Va. (WUSA) -- I peruse a lot of local blogs and newspapers, always brainstorming for story ideas for both the broadcast and online arms of dc.highschoolsports.net.
Here at dc.highschoolsports.net, we are charged with digging up stories from all over the Washington region and as you could imagine, that part of the job can get pretty overwhelming.
So it was to my delight that a local blog made mention of a local Virginia soccer player who was recruited this summer to play for the professional/amateur (pro-am) women's soccer team in the area.
With the departed Washington Freedom leaving a vacuum for top-flight women's soccer, the pro-am W-League decided to set up shop with "D.C. United Women" (excuse me, but I'm still learning all of the different levels and affiliations of both men's and women's soccer. I was and still am, terrible at any sport that requires me to directly interact with a ball).
With all of this moving and shifting of teams this past winter and spring, the D.C. Women had a short window to piece together a roster. When D.C. Women began seeing offensive woes with its roster of professionals, college graduates, and current college players, D.C. United Women coach Mike Jorden decided to use some of his high school-level contacts and find an answer.
Stone Bridge High School rising junior and recent James Madison University-commit Ashley Herndon was his answer.
Because of the W League's structure, Herndon's eligibility was never in question. What concerned Jorden was Herndon's durability. He snatched up the scorer fresh off her high school season and in the midst of her club schedule.
"It's different because it's a faster game, the girls are older and have been through college," said Herndon.
If Herndon was wearing out, you couldn't tell. The reserved rising high school junior gets after it on the field, attacking the goal and looking to score, which was exactly why Jorden brought her on the team.
"Her club coach is a friend of mine, so I talked to him about Ashley and he said she's one of the better goal scorers in the area for a 16-year-old, and we need goals," said Jorden.
Already, Herndon has logged minutes on the field, appearing in three games for D.C. United Women. Wasting no time, Jorden rolled out the teen amongst grown adults and started Herndon in her first match in mid-June as a member of the team.
"She came into the first game and didn't know what to expect and was a bit tentative, but as the game went on, she got more aggressive," said Jorden.
Similar to how Herndon has had to settle into a higher level of play, the 16-year-old has had to adjust to playing with all women in their twenties. According to teammate Christy Bush, who is 12 years Herndon's senior, younger players like Herndon tend to be quieter and it's crucial for the older teammates and coaches to communicate effectively to the younger players.
Herndon has taken to her stint in the W League well, gaining the most valuable type of experience: consistently playing against competition that is better than you. Her talents have boded well for her, proving she can hang, and even succeed, at the next level.
"She's a little bit raw, but she has immense talent and things you can't teach. She runs off the ball, she's always finding herself on good places. Although she's got a lot to learn, she's got a bright future," said Jorden.