JOSE L. ARGUETA/ISI PHOTOS

Washington State’s all-time leading scorer, Morgan Weaver was selected by the Portland Thorns as the second pick in the 2020 NWSL Draft. Weaver led the Cougars to their first ever College Cup in 2019 and was soon after invited to the USWNT’s senior team training camp in December.

CONGRATULATIONS ON BEING TAKEN NO. 2 IN THE NWSL DRAFT. IT’S BEEN AMAZING TO WATCH YOUR PERFORMANCE THIS PAST SEASON AND TO SEE HOW FAR WASHINGTON STATE HAS COME SINCE YOU ARRIVED. GOING BACK IN TIME, HOW DID YOU END UP AT WASHINGTON STATE? 

My mom made me come on a visit. 100% honesty — I did not want to go to Washington State. I wanted to be a Husky. I grew up about 45 minutes from UW, and I wanted to go there my whole entire life. I was all, go Huskies, go Dawgs. And my club coach said, hey, you should go check out Washington State, they would really love to see you. And I said, yeah, whatever. So they ended up calling my mom to say they wanted to have me on a visit. I said I wouldn’t go, but she said I had to just see what it was like. And then of course I got here and just fell in love with the school. It only took one visit. On the way home I called my dad and said, “I’m going to Washington State. I’m going to be a Coug.” And he goes, “What?!”

THE PROGRAM MADE SO MANY STRIDES DURING YOUR FOUR YEARS. WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THE CULTURE THAT ALLOWED IT TO MAKE THE LEAP? 

I can remember being that freshman on the first road trip who was asking everyone if they needed water, asking the catches after practice if they needed me to pick up the balls. I was absolutely that nervous new player who just wanted to help. And that was true for all the girls in our class, which really showed the upperclassmen that we were committed. And our coaches got on us, they told us we should be competing at the top of the Pac 12. And after we didn’t make the tournament my freshman season, everyone in my class just said we weren’t going to let that happen again. We had practices in the snow while the tournament was going on, and we just kept telling ourselves that we deserved to be playing in it. There was a huge mentality shift. We wanted to be at the top of the conference, and we wanted to show everyone what Washington State was about every time we took the field. And this year, we really did that.

YOU GUYS WENT ON TO BE THE CINDERELLA TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT. DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE CAPABLE OF THAT KIND OF RUN TOWARD THE END OF THE SEASON? 

We knew going into two of our last games against Utah and Colorado that we had to win them both to make the tournament, which we did. But then we lost to Washington, and everyone was just like, “What just happened?” You can’t lose to your rivals. And credit to UW for beating us, but all of us were disappointed. We were furious, and we hated that feeling. I think that took everyone to another level. Once we got back to Pullman, the mentality was just that we weren’t going to lose again. You could feel the intensity at practice.

YOU GUYS KNOCKED OFF TWO TOP-5 TEAMS DURING YOUR RUN. WHAT WAS YOUR MENTALITY LIKE FOR THOSE GAMES? 

Before the Virginia game, there was definitely some nerves. We knew how good they were. But a few of us just grabbed everyone before the game, and we said, look, we’re Washington State. People are scared to play us because we’re physical, we’re athletic, and we don’t stop. And before the game, in the locker room, on the bus, we were all singing. High School Musical, Hannah Montana. Everyone was having fun. That’s when we knew we were going to win the game. When we have that crazy energy, we don’t think there’s anyone that’s going to stop us.

There were also so many families that traveled to every game supporting us. And there were a lot of older players, even from other programs, who kept sending us messages. Abby Wambach even sent a video, which was amazing. But really, we just loved getting to show people that, you know, we’re a small little school in Pullman. We don’t have the No. 1 recruits. But we’re fighters, and we give everything we can. Since I arrived here as a freshman, we’ve been proving to people that we can compete with the best. Honestly, I don’t even think it was a Cinderella story. We were just showing people what we could do. They might have been shocked, but we always felt like we deserved to be there.

EVEN AS YOU KNOCKED OFF TEAMS, THERE WEREN’T A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE MEDIA WHO BELIEVED IN YOU. HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO STAY CONFIDENT? 

I think the other captains and I always did a good job of bringing everyone in and saying, this is just another game. It shouldn’t matter who were playing. We’re going out there to win and to be the best we can. It comes from the coaches, too. They always believed. And I think they did an amazing job proving to us that we’re entitled to have that mentality where it doesn’t matter who we are playing. I mean, we could be playing Chelsea, and we’d still say, it’s just Chelsea, we got this. That’s just who we are. It sounds crazy, but that’s our team. And we loved having the opportunity to prove all the doubters wrong.

BY THE END, YOU ALL HAD A LOT OF NEW FANS ACROSS THE COUNTRY WHO WERE ROOTING FOR YOU AT THE COLLEGE CUP. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE? 

It was awesome. There were so many girls who messaged me throughout the tournament and this year saying how much they loved watching our team, saying how much we inspired them. I kept reminding everyone on the team that this is what we were playing for. And there were so many girls who said they want to come to Washington State, who said they wanted to be Cougs because of what we had done. That doesn’t happen all the time, and we knew it was special.

FAST-FORWARDING TO THE DRAFT, WHAT WAS THAT LIKE WHEN YOU HEARD THEM CALL YOUR NAME AT NO. 2? 

I thought, dang. I was so excited. And kind of shocked. I mean, I never fully believed I’d be a No. 2 pick in the draft. That’s a pretty high number. I’ve always just gone out there and worked as hard as I could, and now I can’t wait to be in Portland. The team is amazing. Lindsey Horan, Tobin Heath, Christine Sinclair, and so many more. And Portland is only two and a half hours from my house. I’m so close to home. My hard work is finally paying off, but it’s not done.

DO YOU HAVE ANY PERSONAL GOALS FOR THIS YEAR?

I think for me it’s just showing everyone that I can compete, that I’m not just content to be there. I want to prove myself to everyone. I want them to really be excited about having me as a teammate.

BOTH YOU AND SOPHIA SMITH WILL BE HEADING TO PORTLAND. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON PARTNERING UP? 

I’m really excited to get to know her more. We played together at this last national camp in December. She seems really nice, really fun. And I’ve heard great things about her. I had some friends at Washington State who played club with her and who all talked very highly about her.

ANY SHOUT OUT TO THE PORTLAND FAITHFUL? 

Oh yes — I’m so excited to be playing in Portland. I already met some fans at the draft. They gave me a scarf and were incredibly nice. So many people have also reached out over social media to say how excited they are to have me in Portland. It’s amazing, and I’m so excited to get to know them.