Nicki Fraser knows her father’s soccer career took him to plenty of far-flung destinations.
But over the course of the next few weeks, she’ll gain a leg up in terms of miles traveled for an international match, as well as the size of the stage.
Dad is, of course, Robin Fraser, the Colorado Rapids’ head coach and a 27-time capped U.S. Men’s National Team player who played on four continents. Nicki is the latest Coloradan to play in the biggest competition in youth soccer, representing the U.S. Youth Women’s National Team in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in India.
Like her dad, she is a defender. She’s quick in her decision-making, good on the ball and has speed, all of which were key factors in Robin’s decorated MLS career. It certainly doesn’t hurt that she also got his height (5-foot-10) and ability to play across the field.
Per U.S. Soccer, Nicki became only the second daughter of a male or female U.S. National Team player to earn a cap at any level of the U.S. Women’s National Teams program.
While she’s happy to share the Fraser name, she wants to make her own mark.
“When I found out I made the final roster, I was so happy when I got home from practice that night,” she said. “That was when my stress went away … because it’s been something that I’ve really been working towards and thought I was good. So it was just reassurance. Now I know it’s working on the next step, which is the World Cup. … To play on this stage is going to be really special.”
The 16-year-old Rock Canyon High School student, who is verbally committed to play at UCLA, made her World Cup debut Tuesday. Fraser was a second-half substitute in the United States’ 8-0 win against host India in the eastern state of Odisha.
With the final game of the Rapids’ season on Sunday, Robin is set to catch the final two Group A games against Brazil (Friday) and Morocco (Oct. 17).
Back in June when the USWNT played at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, she got to meet many of her heroes — Colorado native Lindsey Horan being one of them. Nicki watches a lot of women’s club soccer, and the more visibility it’s gotten, the more she’s become a student of the game.
“Maybe it’s a curse of being a coach’s daughter, I don’t know.” Robin joked.
The two often trained together after Rapids practices this season. And after all the work they put in and how big a role she could play in the 16-team tournament, it will undoubtedly be memorable for Robin as a father.
To see his daughter in a U.S. jersey for the first time in person, standing for the “Star-Spangled Banner” as he once did — “full-circle” likely won’t feel apt enough to describe it.
“Nicki worked really hard to put herself in this position. She did so much work on her own away from her team, individual work, and had so much determination that you love to see effort like that get rewarded,” he said. “I mean, I never played in a World Cup. I find this extremely exciting and couldn’t be more proud.”
While Nicki said she knows the tournament will be difficult.
“We’re all very hungry,” she said. “We’re very young in our careers and we hope to go on to bigger and better things. We have a lot of tenaciousness in our group, so I think that in a competition like this we’ll show a lot of fight and I don’t think we’ll go out easily.”