Former Iowa soccer forward Alyssa Walker signs pro contract in Sweden

Walker competed at Iowa for one season as a graduate transfer before she joined the professional ranks.


Dimia Burrell

University of Iowa forward Alyssa Walker pushes University of Minnesota defender Abi Frandsen to move the ball around University of Minnesota defender Delaney Stekr during a soccer game between Iowa and Minnesota at the UI Soccer Complex on Thursday Oct. 21, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Gophers 1-0.

Isaac Goffin, Sports reporter

Former Iowa soccer forward Alyssa Walker will leave the cornfields of Iowa and move to a city near the Baltic Sea to extend her playing career.

Walker signed a one-year contract with IFK Kalmar in southeast Sweden to play soccer professionally. She and the club officially struck a deal during Thanksgiving week.

“I didn’t expect it to come so fast,” Walker said of her professional contract. “I thought I was going to have to end up having a lot more conversations with a lot of different coaches and things like that, thinking it was going to be more difficult for me to get into the professional playing area, and it wasn’t.”

Walker will start her career with IFK Kalmar in January. The club will play its first game of the 2022 season in March.

Soon after Iowa lost to Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament Semifinals Nov. 4, Walker started looking for her next playing opportunity.

Walker’s mother created a highlight reel to distribute to professional soccer clubs. Iowa head coach Dave DiIanni and former Richmond associate head coach Mika Elovaara helped Walker find potential suitors.

Elovaara recruited Walker to Richmond and coached her there. Walker transferred to Iowa after the 2021 season.

Ultimately, Walker didn’t choose IFK Kalmar because her coaches pushed her toward the club. Rather, Walker elected to sign with the club because her high school teammate, goalkeeper Aubrei Corder, joined IFK Kalmar last season. Corder played at the University of Nebraska from 2016-19.

RELATED: Iowa soccer graduate transfer Alyssa Walker giving Hawkeyes offensive boost

IFK Kalmar was impressed by Walker’s film, along with her speed and agility numbers. After a couple 30-minute conversations with IFK Kalmar’s sporting director and head coach, Walker was offered a contract.

“I’m very thankful to the Hawkeye soccer program, the coaches, the school, my teammates because none of this would have been possible without any of them,” Walker said. “So, it’s definitely a blessing to be able to come to Iowa and finish off my collegiate career.”

Elovaara said he’s confident Walker will succeed in the professional game because she is fast and prepares tirelessly.

“She’s got the right type of mentality, but she’s also very committed to getting better outside of the team training,” Elovaara said. “So, I would say because of the physical abilities that she already has and because she’s committed to developing her game, whether it’s finishing or whether it’s getting stronger or getting fitter, I think it’s a combination of those two.”

When Walker transferred to Iowa, DiIanni said she had two goals: Getting better and becoming a professional. Ultimately, Walker hit both the benchmarks she set for herself.

DiIanni believes Walker is the sixth player in Iowa soccer history to play professionally. Cloé Lacasse is the only other former Hawkeye on an active professional soccer roster as of Sunday.

“I think Alyssa’s been just a wonderful addition to our program,” DiIanni said. “I think she gave us as much as we gave her with regards to experience and we always look at her as being a Hawkeye.”

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