HARRISON, NJ (November 9, 2023) – The National Women’s Soccer League today announced that NJ/NY Gotham FC defender Jenna Nighswonger has been named the 2023 NWSL Rookie of the Year, presented by Ally.
Nighswonger joined Gotham FC as a first-round draft pick, and she converted from a star college forward into a stronghold defender for the club. The rookie sensation played more minutes than any other rookie (1,536) in the regular season.
The Huntington Beach, California, native also provided seven goal contributions across all competitions, which ties for most among league rookies this year. Additionally, she notched 35 tackles, which is the most on Gotham FC, most among rookies, and third among defenders across the league.
Throughout the regular season, Nighswonger earned six NWSL awards, which was the most by a rookie in 2023. She was named NWSL Rookie of the Month twice (May, June), named to the NWSL Best XI of the Month presented by Mastercard three times (May, July, August), and earned UKG NWSL Challenge Cup Best XI All-Tournament Team (September). Nighswonger is the only rookie to earn as many NWSL league honors this season.
In addition to the award, Nighswonger will also receive a cash bonus from Ally to celebrate her accomplishments from her first season in the NWSL.
The list of finalists was decided after a preliminary round of voting by owners, general managers, coaches, players and media. The finalists were then voted on by fans, owners, general managers, coaches, players and media.
Preliminary Round: Players (50%), Owners/GMs/Coaches (25%) and Media (25%)
Final Round: Players (40%), Owners/GMs/Coaches (25%), Media (25%) and Fans (10%)
Full list of NWSL Rookies of the Year
2013: Erika Tymrak, FC Kansas City
2014: Julie Ertz (Johnston), Chicago Red Stars
2015: Danielle Colaprico, Chicago Red Stars
2016: Raquel Rodriguez, NJ/NY Gotham FC
2017: Ashley Hatch, North Carolina Courage
2018: Imani Dorsey, NJ/NY Gotham FC
2019: Bethany Balcer, OL Reign
2021: Trinity Rodman, Washington Spirit
2022: Naomi Girma, San Diego Wave FC
2023: Jenna Nighswonger, NJ/NY Gotham FC