July 25, 2012 at 3:42 pm , by Amelia Harnish
Every four years the summer Olympics return, giving us a chance to bask in stories of inspiring triumph. I remember when Kerri Strug stuck the landing on her injured ankle to win gymnastics gold for the “Magnificent Seven.” When Michael Phelps brought home 16 medals in swimming. And when Greg Louganis came out on top in diving despite a concussion. With the state of the world today, I’m looking forward to watching stories like those more than ever.
And this year, while we’re also marking the 40th anniversary of Title IX, women outnumber men on the U.S. Olympic team for the first time. How cool is that?
The U.S. women’s soccer team is opening the games with its first match against France today. While you may already be familiar with Hope Solo, the team’s charismatic goalkeeper, allow me to introduce you to defender Christie Rampone, team captain and mom to daughters Rylie and Reece (ages 6 and 2, with Rampone, right). As one of the fastest defenders in the world, she’s definitely one to watch. I chatted with Rampone to learn more about how she’s balancing being a mom and an elite athlete.
LHJ: You’re the only mom on the soccer team. Is it tough to fit in all your training and traveling while caring for young children?
CR: I’m on the road 200 days out of the year. I’m lucky because my husband Chris is a stay-at-home dad who helps manage my career. He takes care of Rylie when I’m on the road with Reece. Our rule is that we’re not going to be separated for more than two weeks, so Chris and Rylie will come to wherever we are if we’re going to be gone longer. It is stressful, but somehow we make it work.
LHJ: How has motherhood helped you grow in your game?
CR: It has helped me make sure I’m not too focused on my job as an athlete. I used to evaluate my game so much and take everything so personally that if I didn’t have a good practice, it would eat at me until I got out there again. But now it doesn’t. I try to enjoy my time with my teammates and not sweat the small stuff as much. I go out there, do the best I can and as soon as I come back home or to the hotel, I’m there for my girls. It’s nice to have to leave your bad day on the field.
I try to have an equal balance of being a mom, a teammate, a good captain and a leader. First I focus on taking care of myself so I can take care of my children and my teammates. The hardest part is getting enough sleep. That’s the key—for every mom!
Having kids makes me more approachable, so people are more willing to come talk to me when there’s an issue. Like a mom, you have to have patience and know how to keep things in perspective to solve team problems. I like to think of motherhood as an endurance sport: You’re constantly on the go. You’re always on your feet. There are endless obstacles. Somebody’s always sick or tired. You’ve got to have a schedule. But you’ve also got to have adaptability. Those are all true for being a mother and for being a soccer player.
Photo below: Rampone also finds time to volunteer as a spokesperson for K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, where she gave birth to her daughters. Below, a patient tries on Rampone’s medals.
CR: Title IX has had a huge impact on me. My career in sports wouldn’t have happened years ago—not only that I’m playing at a professional level but that I was able to play in high school. I played basketball, soccer and field hockey, which was key because there weren’t as many scholarships for women then. I chose to go to a small school, Monmouth University in New Jersey, because I got a full-ride basketball scholarship. Now there are so many more scholarships for women in soccer. The progress has been amazing.
LHJ: What are you most looking forward to at this Olympics?
CR: I love the individual challenge, especially because I’m a defender. And I love that I compete against the best in the world. Everyone on the team gets a little slice of glory. But the biggest thrill is to win it with other people. I want to see the team get stronger together each game, so when we make it to the final it will mean so much more.
6 Responses to “How Olympic Mom Christie Rampone Juggles It All”