A New Bison — Payton Mulberry


Payton Mulberry

Payton Mulberry pictured in her new uniform shortly after her division one commitment.

Ian van Duursen, Staff Writer

Thousands of hours, 4:30 a.m. workouts, a position change, family influence, and passion. Thirteen years ago, Payton Mulberry began her journey to where she is now, one of the best goalies in the nation. 

 Mulberry, a student athlete at Dakota Ridge High School, recently committed to play Division One soccer at North Dakota State University, which plays in the National Summit League. Currently in her senior year of high school, Mulberry was highly sought after by many top colleges, including Alabama and Boston College, both Division One programs. 

 “I was one of the athletes that had the luxury of colleges reaching out to you your freshman year,” Mulberry said. 

Mulberry had her sights set on Boston College, her dream school on the coast. Then progressively her visions shifted to Alabama and North Dakota State University (NDSU). It was her original visit with NDSU that fully convinced her to take her talents there. 

“There was just something about the culture there, a family environment is huge to me. I want to know that I’ll thrive there. I want to know that I will be accepted,” Mulberry said.

Payton Mulberry displaying the new badge she will compete for, the Bison. (Payton Mulberry)

Mulberry’s father played professional soccer, and her mother played collegiate level soccer. From a young age, her parents stressed to Mulberry to find something she enjoyed, something that she could take passion in. This encouragement led Mulberry to golf and ballet, yet these never worked out.

“There’s something about a pink tutu that doesn’t fit right,” Mulberry said, stressing the idea that it was her choice to compete in whatever she liked. Over the years, however, she naturally gravitated towards the sport her family had been most involved with: soccer. 

Starting out in her early years of the sport, Mulberry was a midfielder, the central player in the field.  Later, however, Mulberry made the transition to goalkeeper.

“I guess I just liked getting a ball shot at my face,” Mulberry said.

Mulberry’s father, also a professional goalkeeper, was a key figure in her development. From a young age he stressed the importance of passion and how to find it. Payton grew with this philosophy and discovered a technique that helped her stay tremendously focused. What strategy, you ask? Setting goals. 

“Definitely writing them (goals) down, like I have a goal dream-board just across my bedroom, and I’m always looking at that,” Mulberry  said. She uses it as key motivation to continually put strenuous hours into her craft. “That’s why I’m waking up at 4:30 in the morning to go workout, that’s why I’m staying after training.”

One of Mulberry’s professional soccer goals took a hard hit when the COVID-19 pandemic arose. It was originally planned that Mulberry would have a month-long journey throughout Europe, including locations in France, Germany, and England. This was the dream opportunity, a chance to play in front of many top clubs and their scouts, one that many American players could only dream of.

“Overseas soccer is a lot different than what it is here, it’s a higher level, and I definitely wanted to experience that,” Mulberry said.

In the end, after a work visa complication, NCAA collegiate athletic rules, and COVID struggles, the plan eventually fell through.

Payton Mulberry pictured playing for the Dakota Ridge High School women’s soccer team at Lakewood Memorial field. (Payton Mulberry)


“I’m going 700 miles away from Colorado — it’s a new state — it’s a new place — so I think it will be a little challenging,” Mulberry said. 

Even though 700 miles is a long way to go, Mulberry feels strongly supported by her connections back at home. Coaches Elliot Pross, Russell Finch, Miguel Rosales, Tony Rosales, and Garrison Goodson are all people Mulberry praised for their tremendous aid in her journey. Mulberry has made a successful impact on all the teams she has played on, including the Dakota Ridge women’s team.

“I think she has been a very positive influence, and I think that other players look up to her. Even if they haven’t played with her, they respect her skill and what she brings to the team, so automatically she is elevating the level of team,” DRHS soccer coach Keary Sullivan said. 

Entering a new stage of professional sport, Mulberry aims to make her parents proud and carry on the family name.

“My parents are such a big thing for me, they have given me everything,” Mulberry said.

Any supporters of Payton Mulberry can watch her compete at the top level of women’s collegiate soccer on ESPN+. 

A division one commitment, top level club soccer, and a great family, what’s next for Payton Mulberry?