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PHOTOS BY DAVID MICHAEL HOWARTH AT THE MANSION

As we continue our Women’s Empowerment Series, World Cup Champion and U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Carli Lloyd sat down to talk about what she learned as she reached the highest level of success – repeatedly. Maybe the best part of the night was that the sold-out audience was filled with young girls and their moms and dads, many who contacted us later to tell us how Carli’s talk had inspired their daughter.

 

On what held her back at the start of her career…
I often didn’t know how to accept criticism. I blamed coaches, blamed teammates, never really looked within myself to figure out what I can do to be better. I didn’t have the work ethic to know that I had to be fit and I had to work hard every single day. There was no question about it. I wasn’t performing. I wasn’t fit enough, and I wasn’t coachable. I didn’t have the mental toughness to dig deep because I didn’t know how. All of these things weren’t going to help me make it to the top.

 

 

On how trainer James Galanis changed her life…
I needed somebody who was in my corner who could mentor me, who could navigate me, who could teach me it’s not the coach’s fault, it’s not your teammates’ fault. You need to get fit, you need to be able to persevere through certain situations. And there was just his tone and the way he delivered the message. I completely bought into everything. For the first time in my life, I had somebody who was able to make me believe, make me believe in their plan and the belief that he had in me. It’s been like that ever since.

 

On the importance of eating healthy…
I really believe eating healthy goes a long way. If you’re eating healthy and you’re exercising a little bit every single day, you just feel better. When I got back from the World Cup, I got off track a little bit, and I was sleeping terribly, I just felt awful. When you do eat healthy and then you don’t, you notice the difference.

 

On her training regimen…
For the past 16 years, I text James every single day and say, “What should I do today?” Every day is different. I have to be wary of my body at the age of 37. I don’t want to burn out. I don’t want to overdo it, and that’s the communication James and I have every single day. The first thing he always asks me when I say, “What should I do today?” is “How do you feel? What did you do at training? What do you have coming up?”

 

On being destined to play soccer…
My cousin married a former major league baseball player, whose name is Jeff. He came over one Christmas when I was little, and saw me juggling a soccer ball outside in the snow. It was freezing. He said to my mom, “Does she do this all the time?” And my mom said, “All the time. Rain, snow, heat.” Jeff has told me that story a couple of times, and he said, “I didn’t know you very well, but I knew there was something really special in you because when you don’t have to be told to go outside and juggle in the snow, that’s when you know you like it.”

 

On being a “bench player” for the last two seasons…
I felt they didn’t want me there, and that I was never going to earn a starting spot to play in the World Cup. It was tough. I needed a lot of people around me. I needed my husband, Brian, and James, and my friends and family. And my teammates, who believed in me every step of the way. It was a tough time because you’re putting in the work every single day and waiting for that moment to change. It was awful having to go from being home where people love me, support me, believe in me, to an environment where the only feedback you’re getting is feedback that puts you down. But in the end, I think it made me a better person.

 

On the World Cup match against Thailand, where the U.S. won 14-0…
When you’re starting off a tournament like that – a major tournament – you have to put your foot down on the pedal and keep it down, because the moment you take it off, it throws the whole rhythm out of whack for the next couple of games. It was important for us to keep that throttle down. We weren’t too distracted by anything that was going on in the media.

 

What she said to the Thailand goalkeeper after the game…
I am as competitive as can be, I always love winning, but I just felt for that goalkeeper. I mean, 14 goals scored against you, having to pick up the ball out of the net each time, it’s demoralizing. I told her, “You have to keep your head up. Don’t give up, just keep plugging away the rest of the tournament.” It’s cool, the exchange we had. She tweeted me after that, which was pretty cool. I didn’t know if she could understand English. But it’s what sports is all about. You compete, but at the end, you pick each other up.

 

On being someone who hated running…
I could barely run 12 minutes straight without stopping when I first started working with James. And the goal was to get myself up to a 90-minute, non-stop long-distance run. In the beginning, it was almost like I had a phobia of running. It took me 20, 30 minutes to get myself out the door to actually do it. But when you are uncomfortable in a situation and you just embrace it head-on, you become comfortable. Now it’s part of my DNA. I freak out if I don’t run. It’s become a part of me. It just goes to show that if you put your mind to something, you can do it.

 

 

On the fight for equal pay…
The equal pay we’re fighting for is obviously very complicated, but it’s not just about money. It’s about respect. It’s knowing that we played our entire 2015 World Cup on artificial turf. There’s no way that Ronaldo and Messi would ever, ever play a World Cup on artificial turf. It’s surfaces. It’s travel accommodations. It’s taking a commercial airline versus a charter airline. It’s all these things, and I think over the years with this team, it’s been about, “Well, you guys should just be happy.” I think that while we should, while we’re earning a good living, we’re still not earning as much as we deserve. That’s really where the fight is coming from.

 

On the men’s team and equal pay…
This is not a fight against our men’s national team. I actually get annoyed when people say, “You can beat the men’s national team.” We can’t beat the men’s national team. We’re not competing against them, and that’s the beauty of it. We need one another. We just have to keep pushing the barrier and pushing the envelope.

 

On how she handles Twitter trolls…
I’ve learned. You know, I have tweeted some things – nothing mean, but maybe putting people politely in their place. But I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older, I’m not wasting my time with those people. A majority of them just sit on their buns all day long and have an opinion about everything but don’t really know the facts. So it’s important to maybe take 24 hours and not respond.

 

Carli & the NFL

This past summer, a viral video showed Carli Lloyd at the Linc, kicking (and making) a 55-yard field goal. Then rumors circulated that she was approached by two NFL teams about kicking for the team.

MARIANNE: What’s happening with the NFL?

CARLI: Man, that was crazy. I didn’t have training that day, so they were like, “Hey, we have some open practices, would you like to come?” So I brought my cleats and went out on the field. As competitive as I am, I didn’t warm up. I started at 25 yards and made it, and then I’m like all right, let’s keep backing up, this is too easy. Eventually, I went all the way to 55 yards. I struck it pretty well. The next thing you know, my phone is blowing up and people are going crazy. Still to this day, every weekend, I’ve got people tweeting me. Whatever team missed field goals that weekend, their fans want me to come.

MARIANNE: So did someone really call you from the NFL?

CARLI: Yeah. I’m not really telling anybody the names of the teams, but yeah, they did. I had two offers to potentially play in the preseason game, but I had a game the same night. Bummer.

MARIANNE: You know, every time we’ve posted about your 55-yard kick, there’s this one guy who keeps commenting, “She could never be in the NFL,” and I think, “Why is this bothering you so much?”

CARLI: Well, I’ve had a ton of men tell me they could have made the same kick. I felt like writing, “Why don’t we have a little competition, and all of you Twitter trolls who think you can, you’ll get 10 steps and I’ll give you one shot.” I doubt any of them would make it.

 


Inspiring Notes

The day after Carli’s talk, we received some notes and comments about the evening…


November 2019
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