Kristine Lilly is a living legend in the world of Women’s Soccer, where she played for 23 years. This powerful, 5’4”, Forward, is the all-time appearance leader with 352 caps, 5 appearances at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and three-time Olympiad. To top it off in 2008, what’s remembered as an extremely tough season, she missed only two games after giving birth to her daughter, Sidney. Three years later, Kristine bounced back and gave birth to her second daughter, Jordan, in 2011. Kristine is more than a supermom! Her abilities as an athlete, team leader and ambassador to the U.S. are incomparable! She retired in 2011 after scoring 130 career goals in U.S. history, second only to her teammate, Mia Hamm.
Some may recall watching Kristine in the inspiring documentary, Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team. Share this with your kids if they dare to dream of playing soccer. Kristine also offers key skills and advice in her eBook, Girls Soccer with Kristine Lilly.
As Play Ambassador for Let’s Play, Kristine shares tips and advice about drills she learned on the soccer field, to inspire another generation through summer games and activities. Let’s Play is a partnership led by Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS) designed to encourage kids and families to get active. Everyone is provided play activities and inspired to make exercise a daily priority. We kicked a ball around a little with Kristine, asking her thoughts about soccer and life. Here’s what she had to say…
Kristine Lilly: I started playing when I was 6 years-old.
What age do you recommend children begin playing soccer?
KL: I think around 5 or 6 is a good age. I am not against parents putting their kids into a class at 4, if the child enjoys what they are doing. My daughter didn’t want to do much at that younger age. So, I didn’t force anything.
How old were you when you realized that you wanted to play professionally?
KL: When I was younger and playing at that level there was no professional leagues. When I was 16 years-old, I made the U.S. National Team, which was in 1987. The team had just started in 1985. So, all of this was brand new. I still didn’t look at it as wanting to be a professional soccer player. I just enjoyed what I was doing.
Nowadays, many parents try to cultivate their child’s athleticism by hiring private coaches. What should a parent look for when seeking the best private coach for their child?
KL: I am a private teacher of soccer. So, I do think children can get something out of it that they don’t get in a team atmosphere. I think finding someone that your child enjoys being around. And, do some background on that person. Usually, word-of-mouth is usually a good sign that someone does a good job or not.
How often should kids practice their sport: Daily? Several times a week?
KL: Ya know this is a big issue in sports right now… how much kids are playing, and that they are playing one sport only. I am a huge proponent of multi-sports. It is not only good for kids to try other things, but they develop different muscle groups. And, you meet other friends. I think training 2 or three times a week is OK. The catch is finding the balance, and remembering it is about the young kids, and not about the people teaching. I also think, the older you get, the more times a week, you can go.
What advice can you give adolescents and teens battling self-esteem issues?
KL: I think we all have battled some sort of self-esteem issues, especially girls. There is so much out there about what a girl should look like, how they should dress, etc … I think joining a team sport, club, or something involving a team aspect helped me so much. It helps you find something you love and also a group of people that have similar traits as you, where you can feel comfortable and find confidence in yourself.
What has been your greatest moment thus far as an athlete?
KL: I have had a lot of great moments in my career. First being, that I played for over 23 years! I have also played in more games for my country that any other person in the world! I would say that being part of the 1991 World Cup Team. Winning that first World Cup! Then, of course, winning the World Cup in 1999 in front of a sellout crowd of 90,000+ and 40 million watching on TV was pretty unbelievable!
What has been your greatest moment as a mom?
KL: Each birth. When I heard the cries of both my children, and my husband telling me, “It’s a girl,” both times, brings me to tears. Every day since seeing them grow, and hoping I am helping them be good, respectful people.
As a mom and professional athlete, how do you juggle doing both?
KL: Well, I no longer have the pressure or commitment to be fit and ready to play since I retired. But, I d put working out high on my list every day. I think showing your kids the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle through workouts and eating habits is so important. You are their immediate influence, and if you act in a way, and eat in a way that is healthy, they hopefully, will adapt to it as well. There is definitely sometimes when I was playing after I gave birth to my oldest, where I felt some guilt leaving her to go practice. And, still to this day, it’s hard traveling to do a clinic or a speech. My oldest never wants me to go, but I am trying to explain to her that Mommy will be back. And, that Mommy loves what she is doing and loves her, too!
What are the best quick snacks to eat during soccer season and off-season to remain in top shape?
KL: I think being active is so important. Hydration is another key for active kids, especially in the hot summer months or climates (like here in SoCal). I always like to grab some sort of fruit, a bar of some sort. And, my go-to is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
What’s your general workout routine?
KL: I work out 5 times a week. Sometimes, it may be 4 or possibly, 6. I think, depending howI feel, and how my body feels. I retired from soccer just under 4 years ago. So, obviously, myintensity has changed. But, I still do some similar exercises as I used to when I was training, justat a slower pace. I also have really gotten into spinning, and go on a hike for an hour or so.
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