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|Tobin Heath is feeling great after London and wants to continue playing soccer -- day in and day out.|
I know that most Olympic athletes looked forward to a break after London, but I was not one of them.
I have such a passion for soccer; it comes easily and naturally to me, so of course I want to keep it going. It's actually been hard for me not to play as consistently as I'm used to in these months since the Games.
I've watched my teammates get married, see their families, settle down emotionally and allow their bodies to heal. But, personally, I just want to play all the time. My body feels the best it ever has, which I'm really thankful for (and a little surprised about since we're coming off the 2011 World Cup and London Olympics). I'm in a good place and ready for more.
Since London, the U.S. team has been city-hopping on a nationwide victory tour. It works like this: We fly to a city, have one open training session and play a game. We also get to see the city, interact with fans, and catch up with friends and families.
Our first tour game was in Abby Wambach's hometown of Rochester, N.Y., and it was very cool to see her whole crew out there supporting her and the sport. It wasn't just her friends and family, either; let's just say there's a walkway outside the stadium named after her. The crowds have been great everywhere we've been: Portland, Chicago, L.A. We've sold out a lot of the venues, and more people than I expected have shown up for our open trainings.
Seeing this level of enthusiasm and support post-Olympics has made us feel great. Everyone is still feeling an emotional tie to the team, and it seems people really want to see more women's soccer. I've seen a massive increase in fan interest and overall popularity of the team in the time I've been playing, and it's been really cool.
As a female athlete, you definitely don't come into your sport thinking you're going to be a superstar and make a lot of money. U.S. Soccer is not the NFL. You really start playing because you love it. I've never felt underappreciated because I've never really looked to outside things to verify my love of soccer. You just play the game and enjoy it, and keep playing it because you're enjoying it.
But I do think we're continuing the path for the next generation -- we're allowing young girls to continue to dream and helping create opportunities that weren't there before. The moments we've had at the World Cup and Olympics have created this growth in women's soccer, and I also have a lot of appreciation for the people who played before me, the generations of the '70s and '80s and '90s. The success they had paved the way for us.
Now that I'm in their shoes, I want to give back to this sport as much as I can. So, is anybody up for a game?