With the addition of our new NWSL team Utah Royals FC this season, we now have 25 brand new athletes in the state of Utah. We wanted to talk with them to see what it’s been like, and what they think of the Beehive State. Abby Smith was kind enough to talk with us about what her move to Utah has been like, on and off the field.
Smith was acquired via the Dispersal Draft following the folding of the Boston Breakers. When Smith found out she would be coming to Utah, she was pretty excited.
“As soon as I found it out it was very exciting because I knew I was going to be working with some of the best players in the league,” she said.
Smith said she knew Utah was going to be a good fit for her pretty quickly.
“It’s been kinda night and day when it comes to soccer and lifestyle,” she said. “The organization has been very professional here.”
If you ask any Utah Royals FC player, they will say time and time again just how incredible their owner Dell Loy Hansen has been to them. Just one of many things he’s done is he flew out the URFC players’ families for their historical home opener.
When asked about how Hansen operates, Smith said, “When he says he’s going to do something, he definitely follows through with it, which is pretty crazy to hear because of all the stuff that he has going on.”
Dell Loy Hansen has had no shortage of kind words from the Utah Royals. As they will tell you time and time again, he is trying to push the boundaries of women’s soccer, and does what he can to treat his Royals equal to their male counterparts of Real Salt Lake.
When Smith found out her team in Boston was folding, it was a whirlwind of events until finally she found herself at a team dinner in Salt Lake City.
One of the first things she noticed: “I didn’t realize how much like land and country is in Salt Lake City,” she said. “I love that; I love being in the country and being able to sit out and relax a little bit.”
Smith also mentioned that despite the fact that she rarely eats out, Salt Lake has more dessert restaurants than she expected.
Smith said that she’d initially wished she’d been drafted to Houston, so she could be near her family. After her years in Boston and now Salt Lake however, she feels differently.
“I miss being with my family and everything like that, but I think it’s a part of the game, and that’s something that we sacrifice because we love this game.”
Utah has been not only treating Smith well, but her dog also has adapted to Utah.
When asked about how her dog likes Utah she said, “He’s loving it. When it was snowing and it was nice outside, as in like in the 40’s, he couldn’t have been happier. Because he did not wanna come inside, I had to prepare myself to be sitting in the cold for at least 30 minutes.” With lots of hiking opportunities and some fun fluffy snow to play around in, what’s not to love for her dog?
One of the biggest perks of Utah, as far as soccer goes, is the easier travel days. In Boston, Smith would have to wake up at 5 AM for most of away trips. Now being in Utah, Smith says, “I think the travel has been a lot easier just because we don’t have to leave as early in the morning.” She says some of the keys to traveling for her are drinking a lot of water, sleeping a ton, and “making sure that youre stretching and moving and you’re not just sitting the whole time.” Overall though, “you’re in and out. You’re on a business trip, and then you’re on your way home.”
Smith has recently been recovering from a concussion she got in the Royals game vs the Orlando Pride on July 14th. She has been slowly coming back, as a concussion is “not something to mess around with. Smith hopes to be back soon but her main priority is healing. She said, “I’m really focused on making sure that I’m taking care of myself.
With just a handful of games left this season in the NWSL, Abby is hopeful to recover fully from her concussion and get back on the field. She is ready to hopefully help lead the Utah Royals into the NWSL playoffs. Despite all the changes this season has brought, Abby is just focused on doing the best she can for her team, and adapting to life in Salt Lake City.