She's one of the biggest names in the world of soccer, whether you're looking at men's or women's teams. Christie Rampone. The superstar defender has been playing since 1997, experiencing firsthand major moments in the sport's history (you know, the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where she led the underdog team to come from behind and snatch gold. NBD.) As the first U.S. player to compete for four Olympic teams - not to mention the only active player remaining from the 1999 World Cup championship team - she knows what's what. But that doesn't mean this captain is ready to retire her cleats. In fact, even though she admits the thought of coaching sounds appealing, that's all it is - an idea. With her focus zeroed in on giving her all - whether that's to her teammates or her family of four (husband, Chris, and daughters Rylie and Reece) - Rampone is powering ahead, determined to stay on top of her game despite an ongoing battle with Lyme disease. We sat down with her to find out what it's like being the only mom on the team, and how, even after thousands of hours of playing outside in the sun, she still manages to look so freaking fab. Steal her secrets below.
You're one of the most iconic players in the sport, but you've also been able to work with other phenomenal athletes. Who have been some of your favorite teammates to play with?
I've looked up to Kristine Lily from the start. As an older player, she always led by example and always gave 100 percent, and I always aspired to have that on the field. Playing with Shannon Boxx in front of me has been a lot of fun, the two of us being able to coordinate and lead on the field. And going up against Abby Wambach in training to then step it up on the field.
Our readers love proving that age is just a number. As one of the oldest active players, what are your thoughts on that?
I think it's great to be able to be that role model and aspire others to still compete and not look at age. Age comes up a lot for me, but I try to defer it and have them just look at my play. I'm not talking about the word retirement at this point - I'm going to continue to do what I love and just enjoy it while I can. My goal right now is to keep proving myself, earning my spot and helping grow the sport of soccer.
I would probably play ice hockey. It's something I've always wanted to try to do because it's a team sport - I don't think I'd be good at an individual sport. Seeing how passionate they are [the hockey team], it coordinates with the soccer side. I think they're just as inspiring. It looks fun but definitely challenging.
You're the only mom on the team. How do you juggle parenting with being a team captain?
It's a lot. I try to balance it all by not overdoing one thing more than the other. For me, there are no days off, so being strong and healthy is critical. I compete every day on the field, and then I take care of my kids. But I think educating them is key. They know mom stays active - they see me run and lift, and we'll bike to dinner if we're going out, or bike to the soccer field. Reece loves that I pick her up from school every day on the bike.
As a player, becoming a mom has been great for me. It puts things in perspective, realizing that soccer is a privilege and I'm very lucky to be playing it for this long. And my kids help motivate me to be a better person and look after my teammates before myself. I have that motherly instinct, and I think that's helped bring the whole sport full circle, rather than just thinking about myself on the field. It completes me.
You announced in 2011 that you have Lyme disease. How has that affected your career, and daily life?
I take Epicor, which helps my immune system tremendously. It keeps my insides strong while I work to stay physically fit and keep my outside strong. Otherwise, I have to be mindful of the fatigue and try to stay ahead of the game, resting when it's necessary. To stay mentally strong, I think of my teammates and the end goal - the World Cup. If I'm having a bad day and need to rest, then I do. But when I feel good I make sure I go all out. I've learned from experience when to push through and when my body is telling me to give it a rest.
I drink a ton of water and use light makeup that my aunt makes to get that nice glow. Then I just eat right and take care of my body. I used to think I was invincible, but as you get older you realize how much time, energy and effort it takes every day to stay fit, so you become more mindful. And I use a little mascara to open up the eyes, and I'm good to go.
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