About an hour after Carli Lloyd stunned the world with her phenomenal performance in the World Cup final – scoring a hat trick in the first 16 minutes of the game – she finally reached her trainer by phone. Medford’s James Galanis, who Lloyd credits with making her the athlete she is today, was on a family vacation in Greece. He had talked with Lloyd every day during the tournament and had just watched the final game. Here’s the beginning of their conversation, and remember, this is less than an hour after the win:

Galanis: “What’s going on?”

Lloyd: “Not much. Just winning the World Cup.”

Galanis: “That’s good. I told you you could do it.”

Lloyd: “Yeah, you were right. But you know what? I’m not stopping.”

“It’s funny,” Lloyd now says from her home in Mount Laurel, “after the final, you would think I would be jumping for joy and in shock. I really didn’t feel that way. I was tired and mentally drained, but I knew this wasn’t it. There’s endless things I know I have left to do.”

At 33, Carli Lloyd is enjoying her time in the national spotlight – but only to a point. She’s still training every day. She’s still setting goals for the soccer field, even though she just accomplished in one game – a world championship final – something most soccer players never will. And she’s still talking like an underdog. She has a mindset that she needs to do more, fight more, score more, win more. Clearly, as she said right after her win, there’s more to come from Carli Lloyd.

Lloyd and Galanis have spent the last 12 years laying the foundation for the great success she is seeing today.

“James calls me a machine,” Lloyd says. “But you know, he built this machine. We’ve envisioned me being able to out-work and out-perform everybody. Every year, every month and every day, we have continued to break barriers in fitness and in mental toughness. People doubted us, but we kept plugging away.”

8-sjmag-strikers--004Lloyd first started working with Galanis when she was a senior at Rutgers University playing soccer for both the college and for the U.S. Women’s National Under-20 team. When she was cut from the national team, Lloyd was ready to hang up her cleats permanently, even though advancing to the U.S. Women’s National team had always been a goal. When an Under-20 national player was injured, Lloyd was brought back and given a second chance on the team. Her father asked Galanis to step in and work with the troubled player.

“I evaluated Carli and discovered a player that had spent a lot of time kicking the ball and playing on the street on her own and playing in the parks against boys, but she didn’t know how to think and wasn’t physically fit,” says Galanis, whose day job is director of soccer operations for Universal Soccer Academy in Medford. “I laid out a plan for her. I made her agree to a couple of things, and we got to work. We worked like underdogs every single day for the last 12 years, and we worked our way to the top.”

“Believe it or not,” Lloyd adds, “when I first showed up to train with James I was super, super unfit. I could barely run 12 minutes straight. I’m not a naturally fit person; it’s just not in my DNA. I had to really work on my fitness and had to get myself fit. It became my addiction. I started to see results. I started to feel good, and I essentially turned what was a weakness of mine into a strength. I really enjoy pushing my body beyond limits, because I know the rewards are that great.”

For their workouts, you could say the pair’s method is old-school – heading outside to use nature as their gym. “James and I aren’t scientific. We don’t go to a gym and pump weights,” says Lloyd. “Everything is at the field. It consists of body-weight drills and using the different terrain. I’ve pushed my body to limits I never imagined.

2-USWNTSL070520150368“It could be an hour of training, it could be two, it could go all the way up to six. In winter, obviously with the cold in New Jersey, we go indoors. We go to the Blue Barn in Marlton. They gave us a key, which is pretty cool. We’ll do ball work there in the morning for a couple hours, and after that I’ll run. Then I’ll do push-ups, sit-ups and my body-weight stuff. I pack snacks, because I know I could be there for four to six hours. James is amazing because as I continue to get better, he’s already designing my next training phase.

“When you train like this over and over again,” Lloyd continues, “I know that in a six- or seven-game tournament, I will feel as fresh in the seventh game as I did in the first.”

“Every time Carli reaches the bar I set,” Galanis says, “I’m able to elevate it a little bit higher and then a little bit higher and then a little bit higher. You’ve got to have the will to be uncomfortable before you get comfortable. When I introduce Carli to new drills or new training methods, it’s hard for her in the beginning. But she struggles through. She doesn’t just pack it in and say, ‘I can’t do this. Let’s do something else.’ She has the will to do it until she is good at it. You’ve got to be willing to go through that uncomfortable learning stage until you get to the comfortable stage of being able to do it.”

In addition to physical fitness, both Lloyd and Galanis stress that mental toughness is a crucial part of Lloyd’s training and success.

“Carli is the mentally toughest athlete you’ll ever meet – man or woman,” says Galanis. “Mental toughness is something that is built over time. It’s not something you talk about and then the player gets up and all of a sudden she’s mentally tough.

“Over time, we’ve dissected how she was thinking during games and how she could have thought better. You need a steady dissecting of the mind and how you’re thinking.”

Throughout the World Cup tournament, Lloyd spent countless hours on the phone with Galanis analyzing her performance and mindset in each game.

“I sent her an email before the tournament started that was basically a reminder of everything she’s done over the last four years. In the same email, I painted a picture of what could happen over the next 30 days, and what I thought she was capable of doing at the World Cup. I told her she could win the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot. She won the Silver Boot, which is second top-scorer. I told her she could be the best player in the world. And she achieved two and a half of those things.

“When the tournament started, things weren’t going as planned,” Galanis continues. “In the first three games, Carli wasn’t contributing much. She was down on confidence. She was doubting herself. She was frustrated; she felt like she was letting down her team, her country and me. I spent hours upon hours trying to keep her focused and trying to keep her motivated. I told her things were going to turn around – it’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish.

4--140078_IDA7667So in the first three games it was really about not letting her get frustrated. Keep in mind through all this I was in Greece, so sometimes I would start talking to her around 7 pm, and we would talk until 3 or 4 in the morning.

“Once we got to the Colombia game, they pulled her out of the defensive position she had been playing in and gave her freedom. That’s when I said to her, ‘This is your moment now. You’ve got to go out there and be the best player on the field.’ And Carli went out there and played well in each game. She went from zero confidence to high confidence going into the final. We spoke beforehand, and I told her, ‘Right now, at this stage, you’re the best player in the world. Go out there, play and empty the tank. Give 100 percent and good things will happen.’ That’s exactly what she did. We wrote the history books.”

Indeed, they did. Lloyd’s first goal in the World Cup final came three minutes into the game – the quickest goal scored in World Cup history. Two minutes later, she scored her second goal, and at the 16-minute mark, the South Jersey native took a shot from mid-field, which sailed for 54 yards, soared over the goalie’s head and into the net. Lloyd led her team to a 5-2 victory over Japan, earning the tournament’s Golden Ball (similar to MVP) and Silver Boot.

5--106753_D0587Since the final, Lloyd has had a whirlwind schedule, arriving back in the States to a championship rally in Los Angeles – attended by 10,000 fans – and then riding in a ticker-tape parade along the streets of Manhattan. She appeared on national television shows like “Live! with Kelly and Michael,” “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” and all three network morning shows: “Good Morning America,” “Today” and “CBS This Morning.” She also attended the ESPYs (seated dead center in the front row) and Nickelodeon’s “Kids’ Choice Awards” and, of course, appeared on a cover of “Sports Illustrated.”

“I’ve been flying under the radar for so long. This was the first time in my career where people actually took notice of things I’ve been doing for the last 12 years,” she says. “I’m not a billboard woman. I’m not posing for magazines or a swimsuit edition. I want my legacy to be as one of the greatest players to have ever played based on performance. I don’t want people to like me because they like my appearance.”

3-140095_7777Lloyd says that everywhere she goes now, she is recognized – and congratulated. But despite the attention, little about her has changed.

“I guess I’m just kind of … I’m me. I haven’t changed because I won some medals and I won a World Cup,” she says. “I catch people staring at me, and people come up to me wanting photos and autographs. They have shook my hand and congratulated me, and the constant theme is what an inspiration I am. I’m happy about that.”

“She’s still good old Carli Lloyd,” Galanis adds. “There’s been no change in attitude.”

“What’s really cool,” Lloyd says, “is that I’m an inspiration and a role model because I go to work every single day, put my head down and do what I need to do.”

 

 

More from Carli

 

…her message for young athletes

“There is no straight and simple road to the top. If you want to become great at anything in life, you have to be willing to be knocked over and get back up, over and over again.”

…about that goal from mid-field

“I saw the goalkeeper off her line and just hit it. When the ball left my foot I knew I had hit it with a lot of power and I just watched it sail in. After it went in I remember smiling and laughing and ran over to Hope [Solo] and started celebrating.”

…about that hat trick

“My goal was to make sure I was the hardest working player on the field. I didn’t really think about scoring a hat trick, but I knew if I worked hard for my team chances would come, and I just needed to score when I saw those chances.”

…her message for coaches of young athletes

“Let your players play with freedom. Let them play street-style soccer and let them express themselves. Let them play and not be afraid to make mistakes.”

August 2015
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