Megan Rapinoe loses the cleats

The Body Issue athlete talks about coming out before the London Olympics

Originally Published: June 26, 2014
By Morty Ain | ESPN The Magazine

This is an online exclusive story from ESPN The Magazine's Body Issue 2014. Subscribe today!

If you're not throwing up, then you can probably do more training. But I've never vomited while working out. I guess I just quit before I vomit. I've been to the point where it feels like you're almost going to pee your pants, and that's awful. So yeah, I throw in the towel when I'm about to pee in my pants. I try not to fight through that, because that would be embarrassing.

I love my hands. My hands look a lot like my mom's hands. She has these thick hands, but they're strong and still have this beautiful feminine look to them. Mine aren't as strong as hers, though.

The girls call me Gumby because I'm gangly. I'm not super muscular or super fast or super strong. And that's definitely for a reason. In soccer you don't have to be the biggest, strongest or the fastest -- it's a lot about how you understand the game and how your brain works with your body.

My brain works pretty well with this weird-ass body.

I think it's kind of awkward when everyone knows you're gay but you don't say it. I had been thinking about coming out for almost a year before I did. I thought about it seriously on the plane ride home from the World Cup, while I was casually talking to my friend Lori Lindsey. She said, "Dude, you should just come out." She was right. Everyone in my life already knew. If you want to stand up and fight for equal rights but then won't even stand up for yourself and say "I'm gay" -- that just started to feel weird.

I did want to be out for the [London] Olympics. My girlfriend was coming with me and my family was there, and it just felt like the right time. I just wanted it to reach as many people as possible.

I hate the idea of a traditional gym. And I don't want to have to just run; I definitely want a ball involved, especially if we're running. That always makes it easier. Anything that is sort of new or interesting, not totally traditional, is kind of fun, like yoga. But I don't like running.

It's kind of awkward in unique ways. But I like my body. I like that it looks like I might not have been born to be an athlete.

I love to rest. I'm fine doing nothing. I think some athletes have a hard time doing that. For 10 to 11 months of the year, we demand a lot of our bodies. Taking those little breaks when you can get them is good.

I felt more like a tomboy growing up, and then I got some boobs. I was like, 'I don't know about this.'

I felt more like a tomboy growing up, and then I got some boobs. And those didn't feel right on my body. They were kind of big, and I was like, "I don't know about this. This is weird." I think that's one of the areas where even now if I don't train a lot I'll get a little bigger, and that's something that I'm a little self-conscious of. Other than that I've always been pretty comfortable with my body.

It's all just society-driven. Especially for a woman. It's like you have to have a certain kind of body, or you need these kinds of hips, and that's annoying.

I've had to find different ways to beat people who are bigger and stronger than me. I was always a lot smaller growing up. I still feel that same way today. I've always focused on my game mentally as my advantage over other people. I want to get into little spaces and have my movement beat them, or have my touches be smoke and mirrors.

Success in soccer is about how well you can read the game. It's about the spaces you can get into and what you do with the ball. Some of the best soccer players in the world are really small and not the biggest, strongest athletes. When I was younger, my coaches gave me the freedom to be creative, and that's how I still play today.

Megan RapinoePeter Hapak

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