Graphic courtesy Louisville City FC and EM Dash Photography
On Monday, Louisville City FC announced the signing of 17-year-old midfielder Elijah Wynder to a professional contract. A perfect representation of the quickly-solidifying player pathway at the USL Championship club, Wynder made history as LouCity's first USL Academy signing in 2019 and competed for the club at the USL Academy Eastern Conference Regional Event in February 2020.
"This is a great moment for Elijah and his family, plus LouCity and the local soccer community," said LouCity Academy Director Mario Sanchez. "I am extremely proud of the commitment Elijah has made to dedicating himself on and off the field, both with the academy and with the first team, to pursue his dream of becoming a professional soccer player.
"Elijah is a great example to all the local boys and girls in our community who aspire to follow their dreams that with hard work and dedication you can achieve your goals here."
While training and competing with the Louisville City FC first team on an Academy contract, Wynder starred as a junior at Louisville Collegiate, telling 24 goals and 12 assists and earning Boys Soccer Player of the Year honors at the Courier Journal Sports Awards last June.
"Signing Elijah to his first professional contract is a monumental moment for our club and our youth soccer community in general," said LouCity Head Coach and Sporting Director John Hackworth. "Elijah was a talented played when we initially brought him in to train with our team, but he needed to learn the level of commitment that it was going to take to get to the professional ranks. Elijah took his opportunity after signing his academy contract last year.
"Our hope is that Elijah is the first of many local player to develop in our current pathway to becoming a professional player here in Louisville. It certainly should inspire both boys and girls from this region to believe that they can accomplish the same thing that Elijah just did."
After representing LouCity at the USL Academy Eastern Conference Regional Event in February, Wynder rejoined the club's first team. He made his USL Championship debut on August 15 as a substitute in a victory over Loudoun United FC.
"Ever since I've gotten here, I've loved the team and the culture," Wynder said. "It's been a great experience, and I'm blessed to continue it."