Kealia Ohai lands in Houston, where family awaits

Jeff Kassouf January 17, 2014 10

Kealia Ohai wil play for the Houston Dash after being selected second overall. (Photo by Meg Linehan for The Equalizer)

PHILADELPHIA — When Kealia Ohai’s senior season at North Carolina began, the Houston Dash didn’t exist.

The Dash weren’t even reality when the NCAA season ended in early August, but on Dec. 12, the National Women’s Soccer League added its ninth team and quickly turned an improbable scenario into reality.

Ohai’s sister, Megan, lives in Houston and is married to Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing. Megan played collegiately at USC from 2007-10.

“It’s funny, this August me and my sister joked about trying to start a team in Houston, because I love Houston so much,” Ohai said. “Then we heard the news that there might be a team and everyday it got a little bit more serious. Then there was the team, then they had the No. 2 pick and it was the most incredible – the craziest thing that has ever happened to me. I’m so excited.”

Ohai was selected second overall by the Dash in the 2014 NWSL College Draft. She carries an international-caliber name with her to Houston as the scorer of the game-winning goal in the 2012 U-20 Women’s World Cup final, which she followed up three months later with the game-winner in the NCAA title game.

This season with UNC, Ohai had 11 goals and eight assists for 28 points, finishing second on the team behind Dunn, who had 34 points.

The family connection for Ohai to Houston was obvious to the many as soon as the Dash were announced.

“As soon as I took the job I knew it was what we were going to do,” Dash coach Randy Waldrum said.

Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing, husband of Megan Ohai, was publicly supportive throughout the process of the Dash announcing the team and was excited to see his sister-in-law drafted to their home city.

Ohai recently moved up to the U.S. U-23 team following her 2012 U-20 World Cup triumph. Waldrum coached that U-23 team in 2013.

“It says so much about coach Waldrum,” Ohai said. “I’ve had him for one camp with the Under-23s and he’s an incredible coach. When I heard that he was going to the Houston Dash I thought, ‘they are so lucky to have him.’ I know it was hard for him to leave Notre Dame, because it’s such an incredible program and they’ve done such great things. But I think it just shows his dedication to growing the sport in this country.”

Dash coach Randy Waldrum will likely look to implement Ohai’s speed and as a major part of the team from the get-go.

“We knew all along we were going to be taking her,” he said. “She’s got unbelievable pace; she can stretch defenses with her pace and get behind. She’s shredded my Notre Dame teams a few times over the years. It’s nice actually to get her on my team for a change.”

  • xman22702

    I wish her the best of luck!

    • Steglitz49

      Verily and forsooth! Lets trust that Houston face DC in the final! Yeehaw!!

      • xman22702

        ???

  • kernel_thai

    I will be sooooo happy when they just start referring to her as Dash player Kealia Ohai and not Brian Cushings sister-in-law Kealia Ohai. She is an NCAA champion and a U20 world champion…I dont know, has Cushing ever won anything?

    • wosofan

      No, Cushing’s really just a bum. No talent. the guy is just lucky, and heretofore should be called “brother in law of NWSL star, Ohai.”

    • newsouth

      Here are some things:

      Pro Bowl (2009)

      All-Pro (2011)

      AFC Combined tackles co-leader (2009)

      AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (2009)

      PFWA Defensive Rookie of the Year (2009)

      Houston Texans’ MVP (2011)

      College awards and honors

      Professional awards and honors

      At this point in women’s football, Cushing is GREATER than Press, or she’d be in Houston. Houston would have pulled this deal with the beloved Morgan if they got him as a free Marketing Director for the next 10 years because Kealia will become the face of the franchise and Brian will be in every photo.

      • newsouth

        He also has a National championship at USC and I think he won the Dick Butkus Award for outstanding national linebacker. those fall under additional college honors.

      • Ben

        For someone who always claims others takes things way too seriously, you obviously missed the humor in the above posts

    • clioamare007

      Thank you! I was getting irritated with this. Just want folks to refer to Ohai the player, lol.

  • SoccerBuff

    Several article corrections:

    NCAA season ended early December, not August
    Ohai scored game winner in NCAA semi, not the title game. She had the 1st goal in the NCAA title game and they won 4-1.