Thursday, November 5, 2020
The club is thrilled to share that longtime youth player and Shadow Women’s First Team player Larkin Russell will soon be heading to Israel to play professionally with First Division side Hapoel Ra’anana.
A member of the club since U11, Russell was a standout player that would go on to play for famed NCAA program University of Portland. Heading abroad to play professionally was the natural progression of her career.
“I have wanted to pursue professional soccer since my freshman year of college when I decided to graduate in three-and-a-half years instead of four,” she said. “After graduating early in December 2019, I started looking into professional opportunities abroad through my coaching staff at UP and other individuals.
“The pandemic provided many challenges during this process but in June I signed with an agency that helps players find professional teams. This agency was able to connect me with the team in Israel.
“The pandemic has definitely set forth some challenges in being able to travel overseas,” she added about the wait to join the team. “The majority of my training has been individual training over these past couple of months while I wait to leave. My training can be anywhere between one to three hours a day, five to seven days a week where I focus on fitness, strength, and technical work with the ball. Overall it has been very exciting being able to look forward to leaving soon and meeting my new team in Israel.”
Russell is now hopeful that she will be able to travel within the next few weeks, joining Hapoel Ra’anana AFC in the city of Ra’anana, where Hebrew is the primary language.
“I am extremely excited and fortunate to be able to continue my career in soccer on a professional level. I am mostly looking forward to being able to play competitively again. I am excited to live in a new country and be able to experience a different culture while playing the sport I love.
Russell credits much of her path to the college and professional opportunities to the club, playing since U11 with the then-named Shadow, and longtime coach Kevin Moon.
“I think one of the ways Shadow prepared me for college at Portland was by providing a training environment with other girls looking to play college soccer. The club helped connect various players with coaches from schools, and many girls on my team went on to play four years of college soccer. We were all pursuing a similar goal and this helped heighten the competitiveness at training and in games.
“Kevin Moon has had a huge impact on me over the various years I played for Spokane Shadow,” she added. “He always provided an environment for players to learn and grow and play competitively. He asks a lot from his players and I think it pushed me to be the player I am today. Additionally, throughout college he has kept in contact, watched / supported games, and provided a great training environment during summers when I played for the Spokane Shadow Women’s team.
“It was definitely a cool experience to be able to play with other girls from different colleges on the Women’s First Team and challenge each other at training during the summers. Some of these girls I grew up playing with and it was fun to be able to compete with them again. It was a competitive environment and I enjoyed being able to watch them succeed on their respective teams during the fall.”
As Russell prepares to embark on making more amazing memories, she shared one of her favorites from you development days.
“My favorite memory from my youth career was winning State Cup with my team in 2015. There was a group of us that had played together since U11 and winning State Cup had been a dream of ours since we began playing with the club. This was a really exciting victory for our team and something I will never forget!”
A highly touted youth player, Russell also earned an opportunity to play for Colorado Rush as an ECNL Discovery Player and was named to the IMG Academy Top 150 as the team finished third at the 2014 North American Cup. Not surprisingly, she was also played for Washington EPD as well as Idaho ODP, and participated in the Region IV ODP Championships in 2014. Outside of club soccer she was an All-GSL First Team selection at Gonzaga Prep while leading the team to the league and regional titles en route to a semifinal appearance at state. She also earned All-State Second Team honors. She went on to start all 19 games as a freshman at Portland in 2016 and went on to earn many accolades during her career, including several All-Academic honors.
Earlier this week Russell took some time to do a Q & A locally with the G2008 girls… here’s that session: