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Rachel Daly’s lasting impact

As Rachel Daly leaves Houston for England, on a personal level, she left a lasting impact.

NWSL: Houston Dash at Kansas City Current Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

Often times, we see players come and go. We see people put a shirt on that has the city’s name on the front, they play games that we get to watch, and they inevitably move on to other things. Few players get the chance to leave a legacy in a city and for a club. Rachel Daly did that for the Houston Dash.

After being drafted in 2016, Daly was the one constant with the Dash in their history. The Englishwoman scored and assisted in her debut against Chicago on April 16, 2016. After that day she continued to write her name in the history books of Houston soccer. 116 appearances. 42 goals. 12 assists. NWSL Second XI twice. Challenge Cup MVP, Best XI, Golden Boot, Champion. Captain.

On a more personal level, Daly left her mark on something far greater than all those accomplishments. She made my now 7-year-old daughter absolutely fall in love with soccer. My daughter Harper began attending Dynamo/Dash youth camps when she was five and started playing on a team not soon after. As she started playing soccer she wanted to know more about the sport. With her dad being someone who has played his whole life and now covers the teams in Houston, I started showing her Dash games.

When she first saw a Dash game on TV, she said to me “girls can play soccer too.” Yes, they definitely can. Soon after that, watching her first game, she had the following comment.

This was during the 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup, which the Dash would go on to win, as Daly took home Golden Boot and MVP. From that moment, my daughter was hooked, not only on the Dash but on Rachel as her favorite player. This past year, she has really taken to the Dash. She wants to watch every game and always wants to see the game notes that the team sends out, so she can remember which player is each jersey number. She will even quiz me to see if I know each player’s number.

My daughter has gotten some new favorite players this year, especially with Rachel away at the Euros. She was upset when she went to a game that Rachel was away with England, but now she understands the concept of national teams and club teams. She got to stand near the railing after the game against Kansas City earlier this summer and have all the players stop to talk to her and sign her mini-Dash ball. Walking to the car that night, she was still beaming from all the players she met and autographs on her ball. “I’m saving this spot for Rachel,” she said. “Or maybe I will get a new ball that Rachel can sign.” Rachel never did get to sign that ball, but she gave Harper so much more than an autograph.

Harper wants to slide and kick the ball. Because Rachel does. She wants to learn to do headers. Because Rachel does. She wants to wear number 3 on her jersey. Because Rachel does. She wants to be a leader with a captain’s armband on her jersey. Because Rachel does. She wants to practice in a sleeveless shirt. Because Rachel does. She wants a headband on when she plays. Because Rachel does. She wants to play for England. Because Rachel does (not sure we are going to get that one accomplished). She wants to keep playing soccer and one day be on TV and in the NWSL. Because Rachel does.

Rachel Daly made so many memories and touched so many lives in Houston in her 7 seasons with the Dash. On a more personal level, she became a role model for a little girl with loads of energy who liked kicking a soccer ball around, and helping to give her goals and ambitions. And that’s something you can’t put on a souvenir ball.

Thank you, Rachel.