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Trinity Rodman gets candid about her dad after Washington Spirit playoff victory

Emily Olsen
USA TODAY Sports+

Trinity Rodman had another big game Sunday.

And she got a big surprise to go with it.

Her father, former basketball great Dennis Rodman, watched from the crowd as she led the Washington Spirit in shots on goal during a 1-0 overtime win against the North Carolina Courage at Audi Field. The victory advanced the Spirit to the semifinals of the 2021 NWSL playoffs.

"This last game was an extremely emotional one," Trinity Rodman wrote Monday on Instagram. "Yes Dennis rodman showed up to an Nwsl game, but also my dad, after YEARS surprised me at a big game in my career, I was shocked, overwhelmed, happy, sad, everything."

Rodman's father played in the NBA for two decades. He won five championships with the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons, was a two-time all-star and became well known for his personality on and off the court.

If her rookie season is any indicator, Trinity is on her own path to greatness. And she has not shied away from saying the journey is hers, not her father's. 

The Spirit selected Rodman, 19, with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NWSL draft after she decided to forego a college career because her freshman season at Washington State was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She then scored during her NWSL debut and made clear who helped her get to that point in her life.

"No one asks about my mom because she’s not an NBA star, but I want people to know that my mom’s been my support system in everything in life, she's my rock," she said.

Since then, Rodman has lived up to the hype that surrounded her when she first entered the league less than a year ago.

She is the front runner for Rookie of the Year with 20 starts, 31 shots on target and six goals. A striker with a nose for the goal, Rodman has also displayed her ability to adapt and contribute all over the field. She is tied for most assists in the league with six.

Despite her success on the field, this year has not been easy for Rodman or her teammates on the Spirit. 

Off-field battles, including the firing of former coach Richie Burke after an investigation into alleged violations of the National Women’s Soccer League’s anti-harassment policy and the ongoing battle of ownership in the front office, ruled headlines.

Amid chaos, Spirit players found a way to persevere. The team has won five consecutive matches and hasn’t lost a game since Sept. 12.

That dominance continued Sunday during the team’s first playoff appearance in five years.

After 90 minutes of scoreless soccer against North Carolina, Spirit captain Andi Sullivan fed Rodman the ball inside the penalty box. Battling exhaustion on a cold D.C. night, Rodman's shot was blocked by Courage keeper Casey Murphy. 

Rodman's teammate and NWSL Golden Boot winner, Ashley Hatch, hit the rebound to score the game-winner and push the Spirit to the semifinals against second-seeded OL Reign. 

Immediately after the goal, Rodman jumped on her teammate for an emotional celebration — a vision of relief after a long first season. 

The photo shared to Rodman’s instagram Monday showed her head tucked into her father's chest.

"My dad doesn’t play a big role in my life at all and most people don’t know that, we don’t see eye to eye on many things. I go months if not years without his presence or communication. Being in spotlights has been hard for us, him and me.

"We don’t have the best relationship, but at the end of the day he’s human I’m human… he’s my dad, and I’m his little girl that will never change. I will improve and look forward everyday as I hope he does."