It didn't take long for former Dublin Jerome High School girls soccer coach Josh Brader to see that Lindsay Agnew was a special player.
When Brader took over the program in 2011 after having coached DeSales the previous four seasons, he realized that Agnew not only had natural talent, but also a strong work ethic.
Those attributes have helped Agnew earn the opportunity to play the sport professionally. The 2013 Jerome graduate is in her first season with the Washington Spirit of the National Women's Soccer League. She was drafted by the Spirit with the No. 19 overall pick in the NWSL college draft Jan. 12 in Los Angeles.
"She works as if she's not one of the best players in Canada, she works as if she wasn't one of the best in the club (Ohio Premier) she was in (for five years)," Brader said of Agnew, who was born in Kingston, Ontario, and later lived in London, Ontario, and Syracuse, New York, before moving to Dublin in 2006. "So you take this hunger, combined with this talent, and then you have a tremendous kid. She's a tremendous young lady and you have this perfect storm of Lindsay Agnew."
Agnew, 22, has seen limited playing time at forward thus far with the Spirit, who are 3-5-2 entering a game against the Boston Breakers on Saturday, July 1. However, Spirit coach Jim Gabarra said she has potential.
"She's a first-year player and, in our league, it's a process," Gabarra said. "It takes a whole season of playing games to really figure it out. It's a very difficult league, but she has shown flashes of what we saw in her college days (at Ohio State) and with Canada. She's made progress as the season has gone on, and learning and getting better, like all of us, every day."
Agnew is just happy to have the chance to play professionally.
"I've always wanted to do this since I was a little kid, so it's pretty crazy sometimes," she said. "Sometimes in the moment you forget that you are playing pro soccer and then it's 'Wow, I'm really doing this. This is awesome.'
"I'm not making crazy money, but (the NWSL) raised the minimum salary (from $7,200 to $15,000) this year, so I am making pretty good money. They're paying for housing, so I really don't have expenses... I'm living a good life."
Agnew has been part of the Canadian national team since 2011 and played for Canada when it won a silver medal at the 2012 CONCACAF Women's Under-17 Championship in Guatemala, lost in a quarterfinal of the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Azerbaijan and placed sixth in the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Canada.
Agnew is hoping to represent Canada in the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France and in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
In Brader's two seasons at Jerome, Agnew helped the Celtics reach the Division I state final in 2011, where they lost to Strongsville 1-0, and reach a regional final in 2012, where they lost to Pickerington North 1-0 in two overtimes.
In 2011, Agnew was named first-team all-state and second-team ESPNHS All-America as well as district and OCC-Cardinal Division Player of the Year. She also was captain of ThisWeek's Super 12 team.
Agnew credits Brader for much of her development in the sport.
"(Brader) and his dad (Jeff) always text me and we definitely stay in touch," Agnew said. "They came to some of my Ohio State games. They're really supportive. I'm really lucky to have that family still a part of my life."
Agnew totaled 17 goals and 19 assists in four seasons at Ohio State. As a senior co-captain last fall, she led the Buckeyes with 10 goals and eight assists and was named second-team All-Big Ten Conference.
"Lindsay was going to be Lindsay with or without me," Brader said. "She has the rare combination of being a tremendous leader and young lady, and then you have the raw athleticism. She's so skilled because she works so tremendously hard, but she fights and works like she's chasing someone."
Agnew, who graduated from OSU in May with a degree in environmental and natural resources, also credits her parents, Gary and Barb, for her success in the sport.
Gary Agnew is a former NHL assistant coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues. He also served as interim head coach for the Blue Jackets in the 2006-07 season.
"Obviously, there are a lot of people who want to (play soccer professionally) and I believed in myself and I credit my parents," Lindsay said. "They never let me believe that I couldn't do it. It's pretty amazing. It's what I always wanted, so I was always persistent about it and I put my head down when I had to and grinded it out."