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Defender Megan Reid takes unique path to pro soccer, Canadian national team

Angel City defender Megan Reid (jumping, centre) is shown at a Canadian camp on Friday, Feb. 16, 2024, at the South Texas Area Regional Soccer Complex in San Antonio ahead of the CONCACAF W Gold Cup. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Canada Soccer **MANDATORY CREDIT**

Megan Reid didn't take the normal route to pro soccer. Or the Canadian national team.

The California native, whose mother was born in Canada, gave up soccer after playing at the University of Virginia to pursue a career as a paramedic. She then returned to the sport, joining the NWSL's Angel City for the 2022 pre-season as a non-roster invitee.

The 27-year-old defender won a job and went on to play every minute of Angel City's inaugural 2022 campaign. And last month she was rewarded with a new contract that runs through 2025.

Reid's play also earned her an invitation to Canada's camp in San Antonio ahead of the CONCACAF W Gold Cup. While Reid will not be part of Canada's roster at the tournament -- the 10th-ranked Canadians open play against No. 104 El Salvador on Thursday in Houston -- she now has her foot in the Canada door.

"It's been great," Reid said of her time with Canada. "This is a pretty special group, just so welcoming and supportive and just want to help get the best out of you on any given day, whether that be on or off the pitch. So it's been a phenomenal experience."

Reid is eligible to play for Canada through her late mother, who was born in Ottawa and grew up in Deep River, Ont., and Toronto before moving to the United States while in high school.

Reid officially got her citizenship paperwork last week.

She believes Canada got to hear about her from several sources, including both her agent and University of Virginia coach Steve Swanson, a former U.S. assistant coach.

"I just was not expecting to be brought in as quickly as I was," said Reid. "That was a bit of a shock … Exciting nonetheless."

As a senior at Virginia, Reid was named to the 2017 All-Atlantic Coast Conference second all-star team. But she elected to take a different path after school.

"I lost my Dad going into my senior year in college and sports were kind of what we did together," explained Reid, whose mother died when she was seven. "So I just kind of had a pause — I don't know if I really wanted to play any more."

One of the last conversations she had with her father, George, was about a career in firefighting and emergency medical services.

After his death, she joined the Seminole Trail Volunteer Fire Department in Charlottesville, Va., during her senior year.

"And just kind of fell in love with it," she said. "It kind of brought a new spark to my life that I felt like I was missing."

After college, she coached soccer for a while and then spent a year at hospital in San Francisco working as an emergency technician. That helped her in early 2020 to decide to study to become a paramedic.

She worked in a trauma hospital, eventually doing her internship with the Sonoma Valley Fire Department in northern California. Her captain was a soccer aficionado and Reid said the small-sided games and workouts she took part in "were part of what revived my love of the game."

Her captain told her while firefighting will always be there for her, "soccer has a shelf life so if you want to go back and do it, go back and do it."

Reid took his advice, spending a month training with FC Thisted in Denmark. That led to time in the San Diego Wave's 2022 training camp and, after being released there, joining Angel City a day later.

"And the rest is history," she said.

Today Reid is a certified paramedic with her licence valid for another year. She plans to re-up the certification when the time comes. 

Reid says she hasn't had to use those skills with her Angel City teammates, although she jokingly notes "they all say they feel safe around me."

"I get that more from my family than I do with my teammates, because obviously we have medical staff that's around us 24/7. So I feel like I'm bottom of the ladder on that rung."

What lies ahead with Canada has yet to be determined.

"Coming into this experience it was just to enjoy it and make the best of it and be me as a player. And if that warrants a call-back, wonderful. If not then I'm just grateful for the time I've spent with the team and the coaching staff here." 


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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 19, 2024

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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