As I sat at a local coffee shop, reflecting and reminiscing on my soccer career, many memories came flooding in, but one in particular kept coming back. In 2003, my second year playing professional soccer, I picked up a copy of the Washington Post and in it appeared Michael Jordan’s “Open Love Letter To Basketball.” I remember being brought to tears, it wasn’t because an amazing athlete was retiring but the fact that everything he felt toward basketball summed up perfectly the way I felt about soccer. I still have that “open letter” and have often referred back to it whenever I needed a reminder of why I play and why I love this game. So without further ado, here’s my “Open Love Letter To Soccer.”
It’s been 30 years since we’ve met. 30 years since my older brother, Chris, shoved you in my face. 30 years since my dad built a goal in our backyard.
If someone would have told me then the journey we would embark on, the love I would feel for you, I would not have believed them.
For years I tried to ignore you. Only practicing when I ‘had’ to, only when my dad made me. But you wouldn’t go away, you kept showing up. So I gave in. I gave you my all. I trained harder, I ran faster (sort of), I lifted weights, I played with the boys, I studied players better than me. Anything to show you I cared.
And then there were the moments when I knew you loved me back. You became my job, my livelihood, and allowed me to know what it means to represent my country at the highest level. I feel so honored to have had those opportunities. And you kept loving me, teaching me lessons of strength, hope and perseverance.
In many ways you were my one true companion, the one thing I could count on. The countless hours we spent alone together. The days dribbling in the rain, juggling in the snow, passing in the heat….You had become much more than a game to me. In many ways you had become my life, my driving force, my fire, my hunger.
And, as Michael would say, my biggest fan and my harshest critic.
Now as this part of the our journey comes to an end, and our relationship changes yet again, I thank you Soccer for all that you have given me.
Thank you for the players who came before me; thank you for all of my teammates, past and present; thank you for the wins and losses, the championships and the playoffs. Thank you for the University of Virginia, San Diego Spirit, Washington Freedom, Philadelphia Independence, Washington Spirit, Canberra United, and the US Women’s National Team. Thank you for all the trainers, strength coaches, and assistant coaches. Thank you for Coach Heinrichs, Coach Swanson, Coach Gabarra, Coach Watson, Coach Riley, Coach Parsons and Pia. Thank you for the laughter and the tears, the confidence and the fears. Thank you for the travel and the friends. Thank you for Megan … Roomies for Life and the Wild Turkey. Thank you for Kris, Mike, Dawn and Dave. Thank you for the countless hours on our own. Thank you for lifting me up and breaking me down. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for Becky, Jill, Yael, and my partner Sally. Thank you for Nike. Thank you for the nerves and the excitement. Thank you for Germany 2011. Thank you for humbling me and building me up. Thank you for all of the doubters and non-believers and last but not least, thank you to all the fans.
I have learned so much through you, and I know there’s so much more. I love you, and I always will.
Thank you, soccer. Thank you for everything.
Most importantly I would like to thank my family; Larry, Susan, Carol, Susan, Chris, and Dana. You have given me so much and for that I am forever in debt to you all.