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Heath goes first, still modest as ever

In what may be considered the worst-kept secret in Women’s Professional Soccer’s short history, the Atlanta Beat selected North Carolina midfielder Tobin Heath with the No. 1-overall pick in the 2010 WPS Draft on Friday.

“You know, obviously you hear some things, but you never know for sure until it happens,” Heath said of being selected first.

She will now step into an Atlanta organization trying to become the “best in the world,” as its team slogan states. As the No. 1-overall pick in the 2010 WPS Draft, Heath will have the eyes of an entire nation of women’s soccer fans on her. The struggle of Amy Rodriguez, the No. 1-overall pick in the 2009 WPS Draft by Boston (now with the Philadelphia Independence), has been highly publicized. Rodriguez failed to make a significant difference for the Breakers in 2009, scoring just one goal in 17 games. However, Heath was cool, calm and all smiles as she asserted that she agrees with the Beat’s goal to be the best in the world. For some, that statement comes with pressure. But Heath just takes it in stride. Pressure?

“No,” she said. “I think that is what we all strive for; to be the best.”

Heath seemed overwhelmed with happiness as she walked onto the stage in the Pennsylvania Convention Center and accepted her official Atlanta Beat scarf that she nervously held upside down, easing the mood in the over capacity room. “Well I thought I had it right the first time and then I turned it and it was all wrong,” she said with a big laugh.

All kidding aside, Heath will bring a wealth of experience to Atlanta for such a young player. At just 21-years-old, she has a 2008 Beijing Olympic Gold Medal to her name as well as three national championships with the University of North Carolina.

Still, she manages to stay modest as she talks about her successes, which seem to be only just beginning.

“My love for the game is what keeps me going,” she said. “I’ve been so blessed by all of the opportunities that I have.”

Now, Heath will help Atlanta open its inaugural campaign in the first women’s soccer specific stadium. With a loyal following of fans for this next generation ambassador of the sport, expect the seats to fill up.

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