GREEN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Bayley Feist couldn’t back hold the tears.
The euphoric moment when she heard her name called by the Washington Spirit during the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) Draft Jan. 10 to play professional soccer was simply overwhelming.
“I was getting phone calls, and I couldn’t speak because I was crying so much,” Feist said. “It was a really good feeling.”
Feist, a Wake Forest University standout and 2015 Oak Hills High School graduate, finally allowed the news to sink in a week later.
“A lot of excitement, a lot of nerves,” Feist said. “But, I just got to think I’ve been doing this all my life so it’s another stepping stone to really get what I want to do and I am happy to pursue the rest of my soccer career with Washington.”
Washington selected Feist with the No. 17 selection in the second round. She became the highest draft pick from Wake Forest in the existence of the NWSL, and the highest in any league since the 2011 Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) Draft.
“She’s a very, very good player,” Washington coach Richie Burke told WCPO. “She’s a player we think has professional attributes.”
Feist finished her Wake Forest career tied for 10th all-time with 22 goals to go along with 10 assists. She led the team in goals both her junior and senior seasons, scoring eight goals in 2017 and seven in 2018.
She was named third team All-Atlantic Coast Conference in 2017 and followed that up with a second team all-conference performance in 2018. Feist also earned back-to-back All-Region honors.
Soccer has meant everything to Feist, who has played the game since she was 5.
“It’s been my whole life," she said. "It’s been my No. 1 priority. I’ve known ever since I was a little girl that I wanted to be a professional soccer player. To have that dream come true is an amazing feeling.”
Former Oak Hills girls’ soccer coach Chuck Laumann, who led the program for 25 years, couldn’t be more proud of Feist. He said Feist always competed at the highest level even going back to her days with the Highlanders.
“I wish her all the luck in the world,” Laumann said. “I am so happy for her not because I was fortunate enough to coach her and she is from Oak Hills but she deserves every opportunity she gets. Because I know how hard she’s worked, how dedicated she’s been and I know what type of player and teammate she was here.”
Feist, who reports to the Spirit March 1, joins three other area players in Washington D.C., including goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe (St. Ursula) and midfielders Rose Lavelle (Mount Notre Dame) and Tori Huster (St. Ursula).
“These Cincinnati kids never show up without putting a lunch box under their arm and getting the job done," Burke said. "They come to play.”
Bledose, a Wake Forest graduate, set an NWSL record with 108 saves last year. Burke said he respects the way the area players compete with the Spirit.
“That says a lot with Cincinnati soccer,” Feist said of the area connections on the team. “Club coaches, high school coaches – they are doing something right because all this talent that comes out of Cincinnati has really been amazing.”
Feist, a two-time all-Southwest District first-team selection and two-time all-Greater Miami Conference first-team selection in high school, is in multiple statistical categories in the Oak Hills program including seventh in career goals scored (32) and tied for first in career assists (30). She is second in most points in a season (49).
“Bayley was a great student-athlete,” Oak Hills Athletic Director Ben Hageman said. “She truly enjoyed competing with her teammates. She was a multiple-sport athlete a large part of her career. She was somebody that just always cared about Oak Hills and about her peers. You could tell that it meant a lot to her to compete with her team.”