GOING into Thursday’s National Women’s Soccer League Draft, Morgan Proffitt figured she’d be picked in the late second round or maybe in the third or fourth round.

To be the second player picked in the second round and the No. 12 selection overall took the Columbus native by surprise.

What didn’t come as a surprise, however, for the former Columbus North and Marquette standout was the team that drafted her — the Chicago Red Stars.

“I was so excited,” Proffitt said. “I kind of had an idea going into the draft where I’d end up because I had talked to a few coaches, and I knew Chicago was interested.”

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Proffitt is no stranger to the Red Stars program. She has spent the past two summers playing for their Reserves team.

Red Stars coach Rory Dames thought enough of the 5-foot-10 defensive midfielder to take her with the team’s second pick.

“I think definitely being a part of the Chicago program in general, he knows me a little better and is confident in my ability,” Proffitt said. “I think being a part of the reserves definitely helped me.”

With the Red Stars Reserves last season, Proffitt played in five games and had a chance to practice against a unit that included national team members Christen Press and Alyssa Naeher. Another national team member, Julie Johnston, also plays for the Red Stars.

Meanwhile, Proffitt has been training this week in Los Angeles with the U.S. U-23 women’s national team. Last June, she helped the Americans claim the U-23 women’s Nordic Cup championship in England.

The latest women’s U-23 national team camp took place last week in the StubHub center, home of the LA Galaxy. U.S. national team coach Jill Ellis came in and talked to the U-23 group, telling them that was the group they would pull from if players on the big team were injured.

Thirteen players from the U-23 team attended Thursday’s draft at the JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles, and 10 of them were selected. Proffitt’s father, Randy, and the Marquette coaches were among those there to support her.

After NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush announced her name, Morgan Proffitt picked up her Chicago Red Stars scarf, went to the podium and gave a brief speech.

The two-time first-team All-Big East player at Marquette was this year’s Big East Defensive Player of the Year. She finished her career sixth in school history with 83 matches started and scored five of her 10 career goals her senior year.

With Chicago being only a 90-minute drive from Milwaukee, the three-time All-Big East Academic selection hopes to be able to finish her degree in supply chain management this spring at Marquette. The NWSL preseason begins March 10, and the regular season starts in mid-April.

Proffitt said she will be able to sign her first professional contract after training camp.

“I’m happy,” Proffitt said. “I still have some classes to finish up at Marquette, so being close may help me finish up school. Plus, my friends and family will be able to watch me, so that’s exciting.”

Morgan Proffitt

Name: Morgan Proffitt

High school: Columbus North

College: Marquette

Pro team: Chicago Red Stars

Height: 5-foot-10

Position: Defensive midfielder

Family: Parents Randy and Marsha Proffitt, brother Austin Proffitt

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.