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Photo: Robyn Walsh McNeil/ISI Photos
By: Kerin Maguire
Christine Nairn, who has been a consistent fixture in the Spirit midfield for the last three seasons, has solidified her role as a veteran voice on the pitch and a player applauded by fans and teammates alike.
The Maryland native and Penn State star spent her rookie NWSL season across the country in the other Washington playing for the Seattle Reign FC. Despite the Reign’s disappointing inaugural 2013 season, Nairn was one of the bright spots on the squad scoring 3 goals, the third highest behind Reign fixtures Megan Rapinoe and Jess Fishlock, and bossing the midfield.
Prior to the 2014 season, the Washington Spirit acquired Nairn in a trade with the Seattle Reign, reuniting her with the Maryland SoccerPlex home, where she played for D.C. United Women as an amateur during her college career.
Right away, Nairn became an offensive and defensive force for the team, scoring 6 goals and taking 52 corner kicks – with either foot – for the team in her first season. The Penn State graduate is considered a free-kick and corner-kick specialist and takes the shots more than any other player on the Spirit’s roster. Her goals are often powered shots from distance, leading to the immediate space outside of the penalty box being denoted as Nairn Territory by many Spirit supporters; as well as a place opposing coaches implore their defenses not to commit fouls for the same reason.
In the past two off-seasons, Nairn has stayed sharp playing for the Melbourne Victory in the Westfield W-League in Australia, consistently working on her game and playing at every presented opportunity. Her transition between the two teams has been seamless. She has received great praise for her skill displayed in Australia, achieving feats like W- League Player of the Week and captain of the team. During the 2015 season, the 25 year old was thrust into a leadership role, much like with the Spirit, as the team was in a transitional period with a very young roster.
Her time spent guiding less experienced players in Melbourne translates to her time with the Spirit, especially this season when much of the Spirit’s offensive attack is comprised of rookies or players newly signed with the team. Whether it be the amateur players called up from the Washington Spirit Reserves or players on the National Team, Nairn sees no difference.
“When the reserve players come in they’re more than comfortable,” said the veteran leader. “I think that is the atmosphere we have developed here – that they can come to practice and feel just as important as the National Team players.”
With defender Ali Krieger away with the U.S. Olympic team through August, Nairn now dons the Captain’s armband, but when asked about her new role, she is quick to emphasize the importance of a team where every player demonstrates leadership.
“We’re all leaders in different ways and it doesn’t really matter if I’m wearing the armband or anyone else is wearing the armband,” she said, humbly.
With her seamless unity with her fellow teammates, her leadership, her optimism, and her high-spirits, it is easy to see why Nairn has become a Spirit household name.