By KJ Philp, December 2015 Web Exclusive.
From the ticker tape parade in New York City to the cover of Sports Illustrated, the U.S. Women’s National Team has been just about everywhere since winning the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final against Japan July 5 in Vancouver, B.C.
Next Stop: University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
Ahead of the team’s Dec. 13 visit to Arizona – for a match against China as part of its Victory Tour – Echo caught up with veteran midfielder and LGBT activist Megan Rapinoe to talk soccer, coffee and marriage.
Echo: Belated congrats on your World Cup victory! What was it like playing in Vancouver? Did it feel like home-field advantage playing so close to home?
Rapinoe: First off, Vancouver is a wonderful city. The vibe there is so beautiful. I mean the Pacific Northwest cities are the best in my opinion! I thought the city did a great job of hosting the Final and being the hub city. And yes, it definitely felt like a home game! The bus ride to the Final was insane. We were basically escorted by 50,000 Americans!
Echo: What have the past five months been like for you?
Rapinoe: The past few months have been really fun and wild. It’s been very tiring but it’s all “once in a lifetime” kind of things that you just can’t say no to.
Echo: What is the wildest experience you’ve had since bringing home the national title? (The Taylor Swift concert, for example, sure made headlines!)
Rapinoe: I actually didn’t go to Taylor. I wanted to go home instead, which tells you how much I love my home. Meeting President Obama was definitely one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. I think he has been a great President, and it was such an honor. I also pulled 7 [plus] Gs in an F-18 Hornet, passed out, threw up and kept going!
Echo: What has the Victory Tour been like? What’s the team camaraderie like on the road?
Rapinoe: The Victory Tour has been really special. To see how many fans come to watch us and support this team has been amazing. It’s basically like traveling with your family. We spend so much time together and know one another so well. Not everyone is best friends but we get along and really enjoy ourselves when we travel!
Echo: What would you say to fans to encourage them to come out to the game? What makes this tour different/special?
Rapinoe: To be honest, I’m a little over trying to convince people why they need to come to the game. Everyone knows why. Because, as the President said, we are bad-asses. So get onboard because it’s no fun missing a game.
Echo: Year after year, you face off against a lot of the same teams/players – do you spend much time with them off the field or consider any of them personal friends?
Rapinoe: Yeah of course, I have some very close friends that I play with and against and it’s always so nice to be able to see them. The thing about being a pro is that everyone lives in different places, maybe you played with someone one year and the next you were across the country, so it’s such a great way to be able to see people.
Echo: Is there any particular thing you like to do or see in each of the cities you visit? More specifically, how about your stop in Arizona?
Rapinoe: Coffee. I am a coffee snob for sure seeking out the very best wherever I go. There are a few of us coffee lovers on the team, so our adventure is relentless. But just to be clear, if ampm coffee is all there is, I ain’t above it.
Echo: You’ve been involved with organizations such as GLSEN and Athlete Ally in the past, what are you up to these days?
Rapinoe: I’m still very involved with AA and try to lend my voice and my platform as much as I can. It is something that I make sure I am heard about and use my platform to the best of my ability.
Echo: Do you have a message for LGBT athletes and/or youth that might be facing adversity in the pursuit of their athletic dreams and goals?
Rapinoe: I would say first of all that you are badass and beautiful. And being you is the most powerful thing. Next, I would say to reach out because there is help there and people willing to be in your corner. I know it can be hard sometimes, but it’s worth it to be who you are. It’s the only option.
Echo: What a year! How did it feel learning that the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage (June 26), right in the middle of the World Cup tournament?
Rapinoe: It was one of those moments that was bigger than the World Cup, bigger than anything I have ever done. An incredible moment in this great country’s history and something that makes me so proud to be American.
Echo: Congratulations on your engagement to Sera Cahoone! Who proposed? Care to divulge any of the details? Projected wedding date?
Rapinoe: Why thank you! It was really a beautiful moment. Very intimate and sweet and with a view to die for in the San Juan Islands! We are going to wait until next year for the big day.
For more information on the U.S. Women’s National Team, including tickets to the game in Arizona, visit ussoccer.com.