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 since 1997, Rampone has represented the United States in four FIFA Women's World Cups and four Olympic Games. She is the only active player remaining from the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship team and is currently the most capped active player in the world. Named captain in 2008, Rampone continues to be among the team’s fastest, strongest and most tenacious players. When not competing for the United States, she plays for Sky Blue FC of the NWSL.
How old were you when you started playing soccer? Do you have a favorite childhood memory of the game?
I started playing when I was five and I think my favorite memory is of the field that I played on as a kid. Every time I go back, it reminds me of where it all started. When I pass by, there are just so many memories. We played on a regular size field, so the games weren’t small-sided like many of them are now. I remember hanging on the outside of the pack - all 20 kids chasing the ball as a group around the field - and taking off with the ball after it popped out. So much has changed with youth soccer (for the good) but it’s fun to reminisce about “back when.” Also, I may be dating myself here, but I remember the orange slices at half time. With my daughter, it’s all about the post-game snacks, but I remember loving those nice healthy orange slices.
You were a multi-sport athlete throughout high school and college. At what point did you decide to pursue soccer exclusively?
In a way, soccer chose me. I went to college on a basketball scholarship and was a walk-on for the soccer team. It wasn’t until I got the invite to train with the National Team that I really started focusing on soccer.
Through programs like Soccer for Success, we are committed to providing kids with caring mentors and coaches. As a young athlete, who did you look up to? Was there a particular coach or mentor who made a significant impact on your life?
At the younger age, I always looked to my father for advice. Whether I scored a lot of goals or didn’t play very well, he was always honest. I liked that. I liked having that kind of honesty at a young age. When I got to the high school level, my coaches really made an impact. With three different sports and three different coaches, I got to experience a wide range of coaching philosophies and styles. With field hockey, I got the female coach perspective and with basketball, I got the male coach perspective. I always feel like I got the best of both worlds. Because I was always bouncing back and forth, it taught me that, as a player, you have to be able to adjust. I think that’s something that really helped me in the college game and something that helped me get to the National Team.
Our programs also teach kids about proper nutrition and the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle. What are some of your favorite healthy snacks? Do you have a favorite pre-game meal?
I don’t necessarily have a “go-to,” but I’m very mindful of what I’m putting into my body. Nutrition is something I’ve learned to prioritize as I’ve gotten older. In high school, I ate everything. But the older you get the more you realize that your food is really your fuel and energy. On game day, I like to stick to very basic, bland foods so that nothing irritates the stomach. I’m pretty much gluten free now - it really helps with inflammation in my joints and gives me more energy. For kids, it’s really important just to understand that food is fuel and that their bodies need energy to keep going. I tell my daughters that food is just like the fuel that we put in the gas tank in the car.
From the 1999 Women’s World Cup to the 2012 Summer Olympics and beyond, you’ve been a part of nearly every major moment in U.S. Women’s soccer history. How have you seen the women’s game grow and change over the course of your career?
The game has grown so much. Not only here in the U.S., but globally. You can see how all of the other federations are putting money into the women’s game; it’s making the sport better. On the U.S. side, we’ve always been the most athletic, most fit team. The physicality of the game is what we conquered. We’re seeing that style of play now with other countries, too. The whole approach to the game has changed - from the coaches to the way that youth players train and develop. I think the game has definitely grown for the better and we’re seeing it with the fan base we have now for the Women’s National Team as well as the growth of the professional league with the NWSL. I think we’re really heading in the right direction.
You’ve worked with Foundation in the past, most recently on the Citi Every Step of the Way campaign. What about the soccer for social change movement inspired you to get involved?
Sport is amazing in and of itself, but there are so many life lessons within sports that kids can learn. They teach you about going through highs and lows and facing obstacles. The mentorship aspect is what’s huge for me; knowing that coaches aren’t just there to coach - they’re there to help kids grow and better themselves in life. Any organization that’s involved in that kind of work is something I want to be a part of.
If you could only pick one word to describe soccer, it would be…