Back in 2011, my daughter and her friend were fortunate enough to interview Carli Lloyd. At the time both girls were playing soccer and would eventually go on to play varsity soccer for their high school. I’m reprinting the article here. Enjoy!
Although most parents would like to claim the title of “role model” for their children, it is often more a factor of outside influences, from friends to mass media celebrities, whose lives of unbridled fun and pleasure are broadcast daily via all mediums, then rebroadcast on social media sites and in teen magazines.
My pre-teen daughter’s choice of clothing and style can sometimes leave little to the imagination. Each year, shorts get shorter and undershirts and bras now pass as outer garments. (I do not let her go out like this in public). Take a quick inventory of 21st Century American pop culture and you’ll see where teen fashion is burgeoning with cookie-cutter icons nearly identical in demeanor, conduct, behavior and appeal. Few appear to be goal-oriented, and more often than not, they take front seat in our daughter’s lives.
Fortunately, every four years, a new group of American girls can turn their attention away from programs like “Pretty Little Liars” and “DeGrassi” and be treated to more intense edge of your seat action and drama with the FIFA World Cup, where top women athletes compete in soccer to earn the title of number one and the celebrities of the game are those whose focus is centered on team success, not personal pleasure.
One of the biggest names in Women’s soccer is 29 year-old midfielder Carli Lloyd, a member of the U.S. Women’s National soccer team since 2005 and Olympic Gold Medalist. Lloyd has 29 career goals, has played in two World Cups and competed in the Olympics, scoring the final goal in overtime against Brazil at the 2008 summer games. The previous year, she earned the Most Valuable Player title at the prestigious Algarve Cup.
Last week, she faced what may have been one of her biggest challenges yet when she agreed to meet the probing eyes and hard-hitting questions prepared by two 12-year-old girls, my daughter and her soccer teammate, asking the questions that millions of admiring young fans want answered.
GIRLS: How old were you when you started playing soccer?
LLOYD: I was five.
GIRLS: What would you do if you weren’t playing soccer?
LLOYD: That’s a tough question. I would still do something in sports.
GIRLS: What do you do when you’re not playing soccer?
LLOYD: I like to spend time with my family, my friends and my boyfriend. I just moved into a new house so I go to Home Goods and TJ Maxx.
GIRLS: How did you deal with the disappointment of the World Cup loss?
LLOYD: It has been difficult to swallow the loss, but at the end of the day we made it to the World Cup finals, which hasn’t been done in 12 years. That is something to be proud of. We also captivated the nation and grew the game of soccer here in the U.S.
GIRLS: What did you eat before the final game of the World Cup?
LLOYD: I usually eat berries and a banana is good to prevent cramping. Some people like to fill up on carbs, but I do that a few days before and eat more protein and fruit just before a game.
GIRLS: Do you have any pets?
LLOYD: No pets.
GIRLS: What do you do for your alternate training?
LLOYD: I have grown to love running. I have turned something that used to be my weakness into my strength. I do a lot of long distance running, sprints up hills, beach work outs, 400s, 800s and many more!
GIRLS: Did you play any other sports in school?
LLOYD: I did. I played basketball, softball and I was a swimmer.
GIRLS: What would you tell girls that want to get into professional soccer or be on the national team?
LLOYD: You can’t rely on talent alone. I had talent, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without hard work. I train a lot, probably more than most people. I am always being a professional around the clock. It is important to be dedicated. It takes a lot of sacrifice to get where I am.
GIRLS: How many cards have you gotten?
LLOYD: I get a decent amount of yellow cards. I am a strong, physical and aggressive player and that comes out a lot in games.
The girls could have easily interrogated Lloyd for hours, but fortunately they were given one more question by Atlanta Beat media relations manager Christa Mann.
GIRLS: Who was the most supportive player on the U.S. World Cup Team?
Lloyd paused here. It was clear to the viewing audience that the 2011 team players were extremely supportive of one another. In the end, however, she chose:
LLOYD: Heather Mitts – she said smiling, referring to her Atlanta Beat teammate.
Lloyd graciously signed the girls’ soccer ball and thanked them for their questions. As we turned the corner to leave the stadium, my daughter looked over at me and said, “Mom, she’s just like me.”
Finally, a role model my daughter and I can agree on.