Wide Awake: The Athlete & Her Coach
There’s no one quite like Carli Lloyd

Two years ago, we honored Carli Lloyd at our annual Best of SJ party. About 400 people typically attend, so I told her to text me when she arrived, and she could enter through a side door to avoid being stopped by fans before she even made it to the ballroom. She sounded a little hesitant when she said OK.

That night, soon after the party began, an SJ Mag staffer whispered in my ear to make sure I had greeted Carli.

“She’s here?” I said. “How did she get in?”

Carli – a two-time Olympic gold medalist who makes plays that stun the world (like scoring from midfield at the World Cup) – had walked through the front door like everyone else, stood at the registration table looking for a name tag (we hadn’t made one for her) and then strolled with the crowd to enter the ballroom. She wasn’t comfortable with special treatment, and she certainly wasn’t going to text me to get it.

It’s one of the reasons I admire her.

I read Carli’s new book soon after it was published and loved its honesty and its description of what it took for this passionate athlete to get where she is. It also filled in some of the blanks for me.

For years, I scratched my head as I saw her teammates Hope Solo and Alex Morgan on TV shows like “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and “American Idol.” After the U.S. Women’s team won the 2015 World Cup, these top-rated shows chose to interview the players who didn’t score the hat trick in the first 15 minutes of the game. It was odd, and I couldn’t make sense of it. But Carli explained it in her book, detailing conflicts that arose between her and U.S. Soccer, and how it affected her career.

She also wrote about sneaking out of hotels in foreign countries to go on a 10-mile run when the team had a day off from practice. And she described a national coach who laughed at her when she told him her goal was to become the best soccer player in the world – he literally laughed until he realized she was serious, and he was mocking her. It was a tough blow.

I’ve interviewed Carli several times, as well as her trainer James Galanis. James can talk to you about mental toughness for hours. In her book, Carli describes James scheduling workouts for her that he didn’t attend, which some would say is a little unusual for a trainer. But James says because he knew he wouldn’t always be with Carli, it was important she didn’t connect workouts to him. He wanted her to feel comfortable creating and performing killer workouts by herself – like, say, if she was in a foreign country and it was a day off from the team’s practice.

Both Carli and James have this language between them. It’s all about perseverance and performance, but at an over-the-top level. I’ve never read about or seen any athlete like Carli.

Here’s one of the most remarkable things in Carli’s book: Soon after James started working with Carli, he wrote out a detailed master plan that had three phases and spanned from 2004 to 2016 (four years in each phase). It was a step-by-step road map to greatness. And the final phase ended with this: “2016 – become a dominant player for the U.S. and the best player in the world.” That happened when FIFA named her World Player of the Year in 2016.

He set what many would call an outrageous goal and showed Carli how she could reach it in 12 years. Then, she followed the plan and gave it 100 percent – make that 1,000 percent. It’s a story I’ve never seen played out before.

All of my time with Carli led me to one idea: interview her in front of an audience. Let everyone see what she’s like and hear her tell her story. So that’s what we are going to do. On March 10, Carli and I will appear at The Merion in Cinnaminson to talk about her success, her workouts, her mental strength, everything. James will join us too.

Tickets are on sale now, and we expect to sell out. You can get lots of info and purchase tickets here.

I hope you’ll join me. You’ll find out – firsthand and up close – how a champion is made.

February 2017
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