Our Game. Our Stories.
The essence of soccer is captured in the fact that it connects a wide variety of people in a dynamic way. As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we are profiling 20 individuals who have made a significant impact on the game of soccer or who have been impacted by soccer in a positive way. Here, we will show you the diversity of the beautiful game and how it connects everyone as one universal team...Together, We Are Soccer.
This is our game and these are our stories. Be sure to visit our site every week to see who we feature next!
A member of the U.S. Women’s National Team for 23 years, Kristine Lilly is one of the most successful and decorated female athletes in the history of the United States. She is the most capped soccer player in the history of the sport (352) and played in five FIFA Women’s World Cups and three Olympic Games. Over the course of her playing career, Lilly scored a total of 130 goals for the United States - a total that puts her behind only Mia Hamm (158) and Abby Wambach (163+). She is a four-time National Champion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and played professionally for the Boston Breakers of Women’s Professional Soccer.
Lilly now runs the Kristine Lilly Training Academy in New England and coaches youth soccer at the Team First Soccer Academy.
How old were you when you started playing soccer? Do you have a favorite childhood memory of the game?
I was 6 years old when I started playing soccer. My favorite part of soccer was the oranges at half time. I loved eating them and it really was my favorite thing about soccer.
As a youth player, who did you look up to? Was there a particular coach or mentor who made a significant impact on your life?
I looked up to my brother Scott, who was 4 years older than me. Whatever he did, I wanted to do and he let me join him and his friends, which was really cool. I don’t have a specific person that made an impact, I think my family was my biggest impact as a young kid. We were a very sports-oriented family. My brother definitely was my biggest influence.
What’s the best advice you ever received from this coach or mentor?
My coach Anson once told me that you have to make fitness a 365 day commitment. I think I took that to heart. Fitness was the back bone to my career.
Since retiring from professional soccer in 2011, you’ve been very active as a coach. What’s been the biggest challenge of transitioning from a player to a coach?
I have coached kids in clinics and camps, so I have been doing that throughout my playing career - but I think just trying not to coach too much.
Through programs like Soccer for Success, we encourage kids to eat healthy and stay active so that they are successful both on and off the playing field. What advice or words of wisdom can you give to young players about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle?
It is so important to take care of your body not only to be able to play soccer but to live a healthy life. I have kids and I just make sure they have a balanced diet and drink water and share the difference between healthy foods and not so good foods. If they realize at a young age why something isn’t good for them, then they will be better off to make better decisions when they get older.
As a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team you had the opportunity to play soccer in many different countries. How does soccer culture differ around the world? Is there one city or country in particular that stands out as the most memorable?
I was so fortunate to be able to travel the world and see so many great places. I loved playing in other countries but nothing compared to playing in the U.S. I did enjoy going to Portugal, which we went to every year. One place that I enjoyed going to was Cyprus. We went there in the late 80’s. The food was so good.
If you could only pick once word to describe soccer, it would be…