Featuring: Becky Sauerbrunn
Sport: Soccer
Level Player: Professional, International
Team: US Women’s National Team and FC Kansas City

1. If you had one piece of advice to give to a young female athlete, what would it be?

I would give the piece of advice I wish I had heard when I was younger—own who you are or who you think you are. It’s difficult being a young female athlete. There are external pressures placed on female athletes that are dictated by society and by peers. There are internal pressures placed on one’s self relating to expectations and aspirations. It’s a lot to deal with when you’re at a time in your life where you’re trying to figure out what type of person you are and what you place value in. I would tell a young female athlete to be honest with herself and ask for help when help is needed. No one should know how to do everything when their young, and I feel like many athletes give up on their sport prematurely or don’t train every facet of their sport because they’re ashamed to ask for help. Something gets to be too hard, too difficult, and instead of asking for guidance they quit. Society asks for perfection, we demand perfection of ourselves, and it’s unfair. It’s the obstacles on your journey that make you great, and struggling is a necessity.

2. How important is the mental/psychological game in sports?

I’d say mentality is equally as important as the physical, technical, and tactical side of sports. Four perfect quarters to make up a complete athlete. All four facets rely on one another, you can’t have one without the other. The mental part of the game, to me, is never losing focus on why you’re competing. I love playing soccer, it’s a passion of mine, it gives me a sense of accomplishment every time I step on the field. If I take those emotions with me every day to work I know that I’ll be present, motivated, and resilient. And when I’m those things I know the other parts of the game will follow soon behind.

Carson, CA - January 18, 2016: The USWNT train during their January camp at StubHub Center. Image Credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com
Carson, CA – January 18, 2016: The USWNT train during their January camp at StubHub Center.
Image Credit: Brad Smith/isiphotos.com

3. What makes a strong female athlete?

A strong female athlete is someone who owns up to their successes and their failures. Someone who accomplishes a goal and immediately asks ‘what’s next?’ Someone who can take adversity and learn from the struggle. A strong female athlete asks questions. She asks questions of society and the state of things. She asks questions of herself. She constantly wants to get better. She leaves a legacy behind that young athletes want to emulate. She identifies herself as more than just an athlete. She loves her body because she knows strength and power are beautiful things.

4. How has failure played a part in your training and your career? How has it helped you to succeed?

After playing twice for the US Women’s National team I was dropped from the roster. I had lived my dream for a time and had it taken away. I had been given a glimpse of the level I wanted to be at with no certainty that I would ever make it back. I had to ask myself what I was willing to do to make it back, what I was willing to sacrifice. It took two and a half years of training my heart out and playing through all my frustrations before I got another chance. And I was a long-shot for making the team. I was asked to attend a training camp as a last second fill-in for an injured player. I took my chance and made the most of it. Because I struggled for years to get that opportunity I acquired such an appreciation for the chance to play. I have never lost that sense of appreciation. It keeps me humble and motivated, two things that have helped me succeed at the highest level.