Washington Spirit Officially Signs 2024 Rookie Class to Professional Contracts

Washington Spirit  |   March 11, 2024
Washington Spirit Officially Signs 2024 Rookie Class to Professional Contracts Featured Image

Five 2024 draft picks and one undrafted signee join the club for their first professional season 


Washington, D.C. (03/11/2024) – The Washington Spirit has signed six first-year players to its active roster, the club announced today. Draft picks including midfielders Croix Bethune, Courtney Brown, Hal Hershfelt and Makenna Morris and defender Kate Wiesner all signed with the club to officially begin their respective NWSL careers. Midfielder Heather Stainbrook has also signed a contract to join the Spirit. All six players have been training with the club during preseason camp since January. Forward Anna Podojil, the Spirit’s third round draft pick this year, has not yet reported to preseason camp as she continues to rehab a knee injury. 


“We have an excellent class of first-year players this season and we expect them to have an immediate impact on this team,” said President of Soccer Operations/General Manager Mark Krikorian. “Signing this year’s rookie class is an important step in taking the Spirit toward the club’s goal of competing at a high level year in and year out.” 


This Spirit’s 2024 class of first-year players includes four first round draft picks for the first time since 2019. The high-caliber talent of this season’s newcomers are representative of the club’s goal of becoming the preeminent sports organization in the world. Adding to its roster of world-class talent already featuring seven players with senior international experience, the Spirit looks to establish itself as a standard in the NWSL by continuing to develop its athletes from the moment they enter the league throughout their careers. 


Full details of each player’s contract can be found below: 


M Croix Bethune: three-year contract, option for 2027 

Bethune was drafted by the Spirit with the third overall pick in January’s NWSL Draft. The 2023 SEC Tournament MVP started her career at the University of Southern California (2019-2022, playing with Spirit defender Tara McKeown for her first several seasons) before playing her final season at Georgia. Bethune, a MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist (2021) and two-time Pac-12 Midfielder of the Year (2021, 2022), earned First Team All-Pac-12 honors for three consecutive years (2020-2022) and Second Team All-SEC in 2023. Bethune also previously played with midfielder Hal Hershfelt prior to college and with defender Kate Wiesner at the youth national team level. 


M Hal Hershfelt: three-year contract 

Hershfelt, a five-year standout at Clemson, was taken by the Spirit with the fifth overall pick in the 2024 NWSL Draft. The Atlanta native finished her career with 99 appearances, starting all but two games, scoring 16 goals and adding 12 assists. Hershfelt earned Second Team All-ACC honors in both 2021 and 2022, with Third Team All-ACC recognition coming in 2020. She was also a member of the 2019 All-ACC Freshman team. Hershfelt played with midfielder Croix Bethune at the youth club level and midfielder Makenna Morris in college. 


D Kate Wiesner: three-year contract 

With the seventh overall pick, the Spirit took Wiesner from Penn State. The Nittany Lion played five seasons at Penn State, earning a Third Team All-Big Ten selection in 2023. Wiesner finished her collegiate career with 71 appearances (59 starts), six goals and 18 assists. Each season, Wiesner’s time on the pitch increased, culminating in 4,668 career minutes and a single-season career high 1,689 minutes in 2023. She has been a staple on the U.S. Youth National Teams, making the U-15, U-17, U-19 and U-23 rosters. Wiesner has played with midfielder Croix Bethune at the youth national team level. 


M Makenna Morris: one-year contract 

Morris was selected with the 13th overall pick out of Clemson. A Germantown native, Morris is no stranger to the District. She played for both Bethesda Soccer Club and McLean ECNL, Spirit Alliance Partnership Program teams, and attended St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C. In four seasons, Morris appeared in 80 games, starting in all but three, scoring 19 goals and adding 20 assists. In 2023, Morris led the Tigers squad with 26 points. Morris’ other honors include Second Team All-ACC (2020), Third Team All-ACC (2021) and ACC All-Freshman (2020) honors. Morris played with midfielder Hal Hershfelt at Clemson for four years. 


M Courtney Brown: three-year contract 

Brown represented the Spirit’s final pick of the 2024 NWSL Draft, being selected out of Utah with the 49th overall pick. In five seasons with the Utes, Brown appeared in 94 matches (90 starts), scoring 15 goals and adding 15 assists. Brown was recognized on the 2023 CSC Academic All-District team and was a member of the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll four times. Prior to attending the University of Utah, Brown attended BYU youth camps where current Spirit forward Ashley Hatch was an instructor. 


M Heather Stainbrook: three-year contract 

Stainbrook joined the Spirit for preseason training camp as a non-roster invitee after going undrafted in January. Playing five years at Utah Valley University, Stainbrook earned First Team All-WAC honors in each of her last three seasons and helped lead the Wolverines to two NCAA Tournament appearances. In 103 career matches at Utah Valley, she tallied 40 goals, 14 of which were game-winners (both school records) and 25 assists (tied for school record).  


The Spirit is gearing up to kick off its 2024 season home schedule on Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m. against one of the NWSL’s newest clubs Bay FC. Fans can purchase tickets for the home opener here. Season memberships including full season, half season and mini plans are available here and individual match tickets here. Fans can also purchase their own 2024 Spirit kits at WashingtonSpirit.com/Shop. 


About The Washington Spirit 


The Washington Spirit is the professional women’s soccer team based in Washington, D.C. and plays at Audi Field in Buzzard Point. The Spirit was founded on November 21, 2012, and is an inaugural member of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), the premier women’s soccer league in North America. For more information about the Spirit, visit WashingtonSpirit.com and follow the club on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. 

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