BOCA RATON, Fla. - Former Florida Atlantic University women's soccer goalkeeper Sydney Drinkwater has signed to play with ASPV Strasbourg, a French Football Federation team currently taking part in the Women's French Cup.
Drinkwater, who set multiple program records when her FAU career ended in 2016, will join the Strasbourg team (full name: Association Sportive Pierrots Vauban Strasbourg) in time for their next match, Sunday against FC Cheran. The club last defeated Ambilly 1-0 on Jan. 7, and Drinkwater will literally hit the ground running as she is expecting to play this upcoming Sunday.
"This club needed a goalie, so they reached out (to my agent), said they needed one by the 24th of January, and I found out on the 19th," she said. "I head to the airport on Wednesday, and then I show up in France. I train a couple of days and we play on the 28th."
Because she comes to the team midway through the season, she has signed through June. The team, she said, is in France's third division, but is pushing towards moving up a level to the second.
"It's France, it's a beautiful location and you really can't ask for a better place to start," she said.
In the year since she last played for the Owls, Drinkwater served as Goalkeeper Coach and was Director of Operations for the Little Rock Trojans, out of the Sun Belt Conference. FAU Head Coach Patrick Baker had a previous relationship with Trojans' head coach Adrian Blewitt and connected Drinkwater with their open position.
"I got to be on the other side of things, and it was very interesting," she said of coaching versus playing. "I learned things from a different point of view, things I took for granted as a player. I get it now as a coach. It was definitely a cool experience."
When Blewitt left to go to Army West Point, Drinkwater continued her search for a professional contract. In the meantime, she had planned to volunteer with the current Owls' team for their upcoming spring schedule before this playing opportunity came about.
"I was unemployed until pretty much right now," said Drinkwater. "It worked out that I could look for teams now instead of having to wait until May. I was going to come down here to train and volunteer coach while I was looking for a job or trying to get a contract."
As it was when she got the job at Little Rock, the call from France came in the middle of the process of returning to help at FAU.
"It turns out every time (Coach Baker) runs a background check, I get a job, which I sort of feel bad about," Drinkwater said with a laugh. "The last time he did it, I went to Arkansas a week later. This time, I did the paperwork, and it's like, now you're going to France, and you have to leave on Wednesday.
"They've done everything for me, I can't thank them enough for everything they've done," she said of the Owls' staff. "We would always joke as players that Coach Baker is `dad,' and Coach Crane (current assistant Michael Crane) is your uncle, and then Jordan (former assistant Jordan Reppell) was `mom,' so they were definitely like a whole other set of parents for me. To be able to come back here, and know they'll always have your back and to have them support me when I was trying to figure out my job and my life, that's pretty incredible."
Drinkwater and her new club will take on FC Cheran this Sunday at 2:30 p.m. (Central European Time Zone), which is six hours ahead of local time. For more information about ASPV Strasbourg, visit their website at http://www.aspierrotsvauban.fr/index.php.