Canadian teenager Jordyn Huitema opts to forgo college and turn pro

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Jordyn Huitema of Canada makes a tackles during a 2018 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup semifinal. Huitema has elected to forgo college to turn pro. (Matilde Campodonico/CP/AP)

Canadian teenager Jordyn Huitema has elected to forgo college to turn pro.

The 17-year-old from Chilliwack, B.C., who has already won 16 caps for Canada, said last fall she had narrowed her college choice to Stanford or UCLA but had yet to decide her future.

She has now, signing with the Wasserman Media Group — a sports marketing and talent management company.

"This is the first step in what I hope to be a successful and long career, and I can’t wait to get started," Huitema said in a statement.

A tall athletic forward with an impressive resume, the five-foot-10 Huitema will draw attention. She has already made two guest appearances for Paris Saint-Germain at the International Champions Cup last July.

Huitema could enter the National Women’s Soccer League via the unattached allocation process as U.S. international forward Mallory Pugh did last year — leaving UCLA without playing a game to join the Washington Spirit.

But Europe will likely beckon.

The 23-woman Canadian roster for the recent 1-0 friendly win over Norway featured eight players with European clubs: Stephanie Labbe (Linkopings FC, Sweden); Kadeisha Buchanan (Olympique Lyonnais, France); Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain, France); Vanessa Gilles, (Les Girondins de Bordeaux, France); Shannon Woeller, (Eskilstuna United DFF, Sweden); Jenna Hellstrom, (Vaxjo DFF, Sweden); Janine Beckie, (Manchester City, England); and Adriana Leon, (West Ham, England).

While the Canadian Soccer Association continues to place select international players in the NWSL, paying their salaries in the U.S. league, it is also open to Europe.

"We have definitely encouraged them to go and seek new opportunities and challenge themselves overseas … It’s great for the players and their development and our team for sure that they get this experience," said Canada coach Kenneth Heiner-Moller, a native of Denmark.

Huitema, who turns 18 in May, has size, pace and vision.

She turned heads when then-coach John Herdman had her train with the national team at 14. She made her senior debut at 15 at the Algarve Cup in March 2017 and drew more attention three months later as a 16-year-old, scoring twice off the bench against Costa Rica.

The first goal, while a milestone, was not that memorable — bouncing in off a limb after a goalmouth scramble. But the second, which came one minute later, was pure sniper as she lashed a right-footed shot into the net.

In 2018, she became the first player to score for Canada’s under-17, under-20 and senior teams in the same year. She notched 10 goals in 16 youth international (CONCACAF and FIFA) matches in 2018 and added four more in eight games with the senior side.

In December, she was named the CSA’s Female Youth International Player of the Year.

Huitema, who is in Grade 12, is part of a so-called Super REX Centre program that allows top female soccer prospects from across Canada to attend school, train, and play together in Burnaby, B.C., where she lives with a billet family.

Huitema’s team usually plays boys sides, although sometimes the squad faces university women’s teams. Schoolwork is done on the road as needed, thanks to accommodating teachers, with tests awaiting on their return.

Last January she won the Golden Boot as top-scorer at the CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship in Trinidad and Tobago. In April and June, serving as captain, she helped Canada qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Uruguay, where she scored three goals in helping Canada to a fourth-place finish in December.

It was Canada’s best finish at a U-17 world championship. And it ranks as Canada’s second-best showing at a FIFA championship, matching the fourth place at the 2003 Women’s World Cup.

The only Canadian team to do better — male or female — is the 2002 squad, featuring a 19-year-old Christine Sinclair, that finished runner-up to the U.S. at the U-19 Women’s World Championship on Canadian soil.

"If you blink, you miss it," Huitema, speaking last fall, said of her crowded calendar. "It’s been a crazy ride. It’s great. It’s really cool to be able to play with three age-groups. The opportunities are endless."

Wasserman’s roster of female soccer players includes U.S stars Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan and Pugh, as well as the retired Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach.

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