|espnW.com: News & Opinion|
What do you miss most about playing on the national team? -- Jennifer Roeder
I miss quite a lot. I miss seeing some of my best friends on a regular basis like I did when I was competing. I miss being a part of a team that is working towards a common goal. I miss being that fit and that healthy. I miss the constant educational environment I was put in every day at training. I even miss the bus rides and hotel food at times.
How did you mentally prepare for a game? -- Kate Sierra
Most of my mental preparation tended to focus on myself. We had already done extensive training sessions and meetings to go over the opponent and general tactics and responsibilities, so the night before the game and the day of the game were mostly spent on making sure I was prepared as an individual. I would try to keep it from being too complicated, as most of us already put a great amount of pressure on ourselves. Most often, I would isolate my concentration on one simple skill or thought -- like a good first touch, or proper balance, or consistent work rate. If I tried to fill my mind with too much, I found that it really did more harm than good in terms of performance. My goal was to simplify my thoughts in order to free up my play.
What do you think is the most difficult part of being a female athlete, and how did you find the mental strength to overcome it? -- Stephanie Eft
One of the most difficult things is constantly having to prove your worth and value. I remember even when I was young, I had to double the achievements of my male counterparts just to receive an equal amount of respect. One of the most frustrating things is that even when I did achieve those goals, it seemed as if that still wasn't enough for legitimacy -- I had to do it all over again.
I overcame it by believing in myself. I wanted to matter, and I wanted to have worth. And it was not that I was constantly seeking the approval of others, but instead, having confidence in the effort and commitment I was making to myself. I knew the time that I had invested, I knew the standards that I had set, and I owed it myself to reach them.
Who is your favorite U.S. player to watch in the World Cup this year? -- Patti Kelleher Rich
My favorite players to watch are Abby Wambach and Heather O'Reilly. I know Abby is motivated by becoming a world champion, and she is the type of player who will single-handedly carry her team to victory. She plays with such passion and sense of responsibility to herself and her teammates.
Heather has been in such amazing form, and has been the U.S.'s most consistent player leading up to the World Cup. Her speed and playmaking ability down the right flank will put the opposition under pressure all game long. Another attribute about Heather that is often overlooked is her amazing work rate. She wears a path down the flank with her commitment to getting forward in the attack, but also the pride she has in her defense. She is a true team player who will sacrifice herself so that the team has success.