Esquire Classics
Jun 4, 2015 · 7 min read

Scars are but a scarecrow for fools and a signpost for the wise.

I don’t want to be the girl-next-door interviewee. I don’t want to say what I’m supposed to say just because I’m supposed to say it.

I have two Dobermans now. Dobermans are unlike any dog I’ve ever had. They are just so regal and loyal. People think they look really mean and they’re scared of them. But they’re beautiful dogs and they wouldn’t hurt a fly. My husband and I laugh because we kind of resemble our Dobermans.

I’ve learned more through the losses in my life, and the struggle, than I ever have winning a gold medal.

Pain is pain. Hurt is hurt. I feel it every time. It doesn’t diminish just because you’ve had it in the past.

It’s not what you say that people remember, it’s not what you do, but how you’ve made them feel.

I was at this book signing in New Jersey. The bookstore staffers were trying to shuffle people through, but I made a point to look every one of my fans in the face, to have good eye contact, to shake their hand, and give them a moment of my time.

When I saw this one girl getting shuffled through, I could tell that she needed my attention, so I just took a moment with her. She told me that she had almost killed herself the night before. But she kept reading my book through the night, and it’s what saved her life. That was an incredible moment.

Courage to me is patience, and patience to me is enduring when things aren’t going your way.

Put one foot in front of the other . . . and find a better path.

I’ve seen a lot of coaches who try to teach that winning isn’t everything — to be humble and gracious when you lose. That’s important, but don’t overlook the fact that winning feels good.

I always liked the feeling of being great at something. Let’s not shoot for mediocrity. Let’s all be great at something.

Honestly, a forward should score in a penalty-kick scenario.

Guessing is bad. But anticipating without overly committing is how you can make a great play.

The saves that I’m most proud of are the saves that other people aren’t going to remember. They were the ones that were technically more difficult.

I glorified my father for so long because he was never around, and when he came around, he was jovial and fun to be with. My mom was the hard worker, the day-in, day-out mother. Reflecting back, she was the true hero of the family.

What my dad taught me was to enjoy the simple things in life. Seeing a fish jump, having a sandwich with him. It wasn’t like we needed a huge trip to Thailand together to have memories.

All these sportswriters who say they cover our team for decades continue to ask me the same questions: “How bored must you be back there?” I used to erupt. How condescending is that? How uninformed is that question? I used to get so upset. Come on . . .

People don’t understand that my job is to help my defense be ready for anything. So it’s putting players in the proper positions, to fill gaps, to be ready for an attack, and to prevent it from coming. My mind is constantly going even when I’m not touching the ball. After a game where I’ve touched the ball only three times, I’m mentally exhausted.

It’s weird. I feel more pressure once we score to not let the other team score. When our offense scores a goal and we go ahead is when I really feel my heartbeat start to rise. Okay, we cannot let them score now. Keep the ball out of the back of our net because we don’t want the other team to tie it up. If the other team does tie it up, I can almost settle in again.

You constantly have to practice holding in your emotions and staying calm, not getting too excited or too pissed. It’s a fine balance.

I’m pretty reserved after making a save. You can’t celebrate. What are you celebrating? There’s still time on the clock. They could get another shot off and score. You can celebrate a goal because we went up. But you can’t celebrate a save because you didn’t go up.

In America, they put the fat kids in goal and think that’s okay. I don’t understand it. Why in America do we think, Okay, let’s put the fat kid in the goal? It drives me crazy, and I know I sound awful saying it, but it’s very demeaning and condescending. It shows the coaches don’t know what the goalkeepers do.

I became a full-time goalkeeper in college, and it’s one of the hardest things I ever did.

I think I’m doing better now than I was three years ago because I had to learn to manage my bum shoulder. I feel better at thirty-three than I did in my late twenties. Then there’s the mentality. I have a different state of mind. I know more about the position. I’m a better decision-maker. I have a better sense of myself and how I want to play the game. A better sense of how to motivate others and how to get the best out of my defense. Each defender is an individual who handles things differently, so it’s almost like being a psychotherapist back there where you’re trying to motivate somebody to perform at their highest level. It’s a challenge. But it’s also why I’m a better goalkeeper at thirty-three than I was in my twenties.

You’ve gotta teach people slowly sometimes, and with kindness.

I continue to progress. The day you stop progressing is the day you die.

On television they just want to focus on the step-overs, the sweat coming down people’s faces, and the grimaces. It drives me crazy. You really want to be high up in the stadium where you can see the play evolve. The run coming from the backside. Oh, oh, oh, it’s gonna happen. It’s gonna happen!

Dancing With the Stars for me was being somebody who I wasn’t. I’m not one for the cameras. Being popular was hard for me. Even doing the: “Hi, Vote for me! Five, four, three! Vote for me!” was hard.

It’s exhausting to be someone that you’re not.

Many of the things I’ve struggled with career-wise wouldn’t have been such a big deal if I were a male athlete. I can’t be bitter toward that because that’s just the way it is. It’s 2015, but it’s still a man’s world. I have been part of breaking down barriers and I’m proud to do so. But it hasn’t been easy.

Loyalty is a great quality, but it can also harm you. Sometimes it can cost you your happiness if you can’t create a healthy distance.

Cut all the negativity out of your life.

I always wanted a rocking chair. My husband made me one for my birthday. He always wanted to work with wood and a guy helped him through it. It’s awesome. People can make judgments from afar about my husband. But if people got to know my Doberman, my husband, they would see what I see, a man filled with such spirit and love that it’s contagious to want to be around him.

A good marriage is finding your equal.

It’s very unfortunate that perception is reality because perception is not always 100 percent true.

Winning the World Cup is doing everything you could possibly do at the highest level of your sport. You’re not sharing it with swimming, gymnastics, and weight lifting like at the Olympics. For us, the World Cup is everything…

I’ve had so many people ask me, “Is it going to be a failure if you don’t win the World Cup?” And I tell them, “I could retire today and be happy with everything I’ve done.” Do I want to win a World Cup before I retire? Absolutely. Would it be heartbreaking if I didn’t? It’d be heartbreaking, but I wouldn’t be a failure. This team wouldn’t be a failure. And if I do win that World Cup, I wouldn’t want that to be the defining moment in my life.

Life is a beautiful struggle.

I am about the scar, but I still want that World Cup trophy.

For more wisdom and life lessons from world leaders, cultural icons, and athletes, head to Esquire.com.

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    Esquire Classics

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    What I’ve Learned

    Wit, wisdom, and damn good advice from extraordinary people

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