July 21, 2014
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Alex Melin has dreamt of playing professional soccer and the pieces have fallen into place.
The former Hawkeye women's soccer standout leaves July 21 for Amsterdam, where she will sign a professional contract to continue her playing career with AFC Ajax in Holland.
"I have always wanted to play professional soccer," said Melin, a native of Verona, Wisconsin. "It's a lifelong goal to be able to do it. It is amazing for (Ajax) to be able to offer me the opportunity and to be able to play for them."
Ajax competes in the Vrouwen BeNe League, the strongest league in Belgium and the Netherlands. The team won the KNVB Women's Cup in 2014.
After wrapping up a four-year Hawkeye career, Melin's plans were to participate in an open tryout for professional leagues in the United States before injuries said otherwise. Instead of sitting out a year and waiting for the next round of tryouts, she looked overseas.
"It didn't matter where, I just wanted to keep playing," she said.
Melin utilized her coaching network to make it happen from former UI head coach Ron Rainey to a former Olympic Development Program coach that she played for during a trip to Germany in 2010. The connections paid dividends.
"(My former ODP coach) got into contact with the Ajax coach and we sent over my game highlight package," said Melin. "That led to them asking me to go over there for tryouts in May and then they offered me to sign when I come over in July."
Melin isn't fretting the 11-plus hour flight from the United States to her destination. She's relishing the opportunity.
"I am excited," she said. "I loved it when I was over there. Amsterdam is a big city, very pretty and everyone is so nice and friendly. There is a lot of diversity.
"Everyone speaks English, so I can still converse with people, but I want to learn Dutch when I am there as well."
Melin started all 82 games during her four years in Iowa City, finishing with 14 goals and six assists. As a senior, she was a second-team All-Big Ten selection and third-team NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region honoree, after scoring four goals and tallying a pair of assists in 2,094 minutes.
The team captain led the Hawkeyes to a Big Ten Tournament runner-up finish and to the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history.
"Being at Iowa helped me become a better player," said Melin. "We hung around the Big Ten and there are a lot of good players here. That made me want to keep going and see how far I could go."
The journey begins in Amsterdam on a one-year contract, and she plans to make the most of it.
"I would like to play longer than one year," she said. "We'll see how it goes and take it from there."