Winter 2022 magazine

Diana Ordóñez embracing God's plan during historic rookie season for NC Courage

Diana Ordóñez’s left arm is a simple yet fairly complete visual representation of the Christian faith. The North Carolina Courage rookie has tattoos of a dove to symbolize Jesus’ baptism, a Bible verse from 2 Timothy and a cross.

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Above the cross are the words “run your race,” a personal motto of hers that comes from Hebrews 12. The phrase is a reminder to Ordóñez to embrace God’s unique plan for her and not compare her journey to anyone else’s.

 

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“I’m a very religious person and very much trusting God and His plan,” she said while describing her tattoos in a recent interview with NBC Sports. “I believe that His strength is what helps me every day and it’s just what helped me get to this point to live out my dreams and everything.”

Ordóñez’s path to the National Women’s Soccer League was slightly untraditional. After being named ACC Offensive Player of the Year as a junior at the University of Virginia, she decided to enter the NWSL draft a year early having already earned her degree.

In an appearance on the “Our Game His Glory” podcast in February, Ordóñez — originally from Prosper, Texas — shared that being so far away from home forced her to rely on her relationship with God even more. She left Charlottesville confident her decision to move across the country was the right one.

“My time at UVA was incredible,” she told NBC Sports. “I definitely feel like God led me there. It was really hard at first to move halfway across the country because I’m a really big homebody. … It was just a leap of faith.”

 

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Taken sixth overall by the Courage in the 2022 NWSL Draft, Ordóñez scored in the semifinals of the NWSL Challenge Cup tournament at the beginning of the season and started the final, which North Carolina won. She then carried her good form into the regular season.

No NWSL rookie had ever netted more than seven goals, but Ordóñez scored eight in a seven-game stretch from May 29 to Aug. 13 to break the record. Her 11 goals currently rank fourth in the league behind teammate Debinha and U.S. women’s national team stars Alex Morgan and Sophia Smith.

The Courage got off to a slow start but have won five of their six games in September to surge up the standings. They hold the sixth and final playoff spot heading into the final weekend of the regular season.

“I think the response from the team this half of the season has been nothing short of extremely impressive,” Ordóñez told NBC Sports. “Everyone’s really bought in and wants to give ourselves the best chance to make the playoffs. … At this point, we’re just worried about controlling what we can control.”

Ordóñez, who represented the U.S. at various youth levels, is also eligible to play for Mexico and made her international debut in April. She was also part of Mexico’s team for the Concacaf W Championship this summer.

All of this took place before her 21st birthday, which was Monday. And Ordóñez wants everyone to know she is only partly responsible for her rapid rise.

 

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“I want people to know where that comes from because it’s not just me,” she said on “Our Game His Glory.” “Sure, I work hard, and I do my best, but I very much believe that any success I’ve had is a direct reflection of the things that God has blessed me with in this life.”

North Carolina can clinch a playoff berth and move into fifth place with a win over San Diego Wave FC Friday night in the NWSL’s opening game of the weekend. Kickoff is at 10 p.m. ET. If the Courage do not win, they will have to wait until Sunday to see if they made the playoffs.

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