Christie Pearce Rampone clearly doesn’t stop moving.
The lone member of both the U.S. Women’s National Teams that won the 1999 and the 2015 World Cups, Rampone hasn’t slowed down even as her international career has come to an end.
She’s written a new book with sports neuropsychologist Dr. Kristine Keane which serves as an essential manual for a sports parent. It’s a compelling look at the role from someone living it, after she grew up as a best-case scenario for how any sports parent wants a child to turn out.
I spoke to Rampone by email. Here’s our Q&A.
1. Clearly, you don’t much like downtime. But how did you find the time to write a book, and why now?
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Over the last 2 years we’ve been compiling information, research and I’ve been dictating stories and experiences to Dr. Keane regarding the climate of the youth sports landscape in America . We are two sports moms seeing sports through different lenses; Dr. Keane’s background on the scientific/clinical approach with the combination of my 20 years experience as former player, captain, coach and mother to 2 beautiful daughters, we felt it was time to help educate and guide parents through this pressure, anxiety ridden culture of sports.
2. I love how the book lays out, in essence, how to be a sports parent. Is there one lesson readers take from this you wish you’d known when you started out as a sports parent?
Sports parenting is hard work! Sounds cliche but, being comfortable with the uncomfortable. We as parents need to let the script play out for our children as they navigate their own journey through life. Letting go of who you want or think our children should be and teaching them to become who they truly are! Character, courage and compassion.
3. I knew the outlines of your experience playing, then playing and coaching while pregnant in 2009, but I hadn’t heard about the playing through pain in such detail. Leaving aside that it all worked out: do you think that much should have been asked of you? Would you give your younger self different advice?
Unfortunately, this is a tough topic for female athletes. Timing is everything in life. Right? There are so many factors that come into play while trying to conceiving a healthy baby. Communicating “the plan” with your coach regarding the topic about starting a family is not an easy conversation. Reality is, the coach will have to start making adjustments or fear timing may not be right for his/her team. Once the acknowledgment has been made your role can or most likely will change. I felt strongly that I was committed to my team/job and had a responsibility to continue my role as a teammate, captain and player/coach. Therefore, I deferred to my professional medical doctors for advice as they recommended and I felt comfortable with my continued play until I transitioned into my second trimester. It was an experience I learned so much about myself throughout the experiences and something I would do again.
4. In so many ways, you are a bridge between eras for the national team, as the lone member of the 1999 and 2015 World Cup winners. I wonder how much you feel the national team’s public impact has changed since you retired, and whether that is a bigger change than the one you yourself experienced.
I was truly the middle child. I was able to experience the success of both the 1999 and 2015 World Cup teams. Of course, the growth of the game continues to grow on and off the field. I was at the tail end of my career when the social media platform became relevant. It allowed for athletes to become influencers for the public while growing their individual and collective brand. Athletes are able to express themselves and use their voices in current time now rather than waiting for after a game or interview. Awareness leads to growth and change. So I feel through my 19 years with the team there was a tremendous amount of growth in the profile and awareness of our game but the social media platforms that are now available has certainly helped with the exposure of the great players on the current team.
5. What were your biggest takeaways from the 2020 NWSL season, and given the expansion in Louisville and Los Angeles, how optimistic are you about the direction of the league?
I was so impressed by the players, coaches and NWSL as a whole to produce a product that was both entertaining while also ensuring the safety of the players. The level of success that they had can not be overlooked. The fact that the NWSL was the first team sport back competing during COVID is also a statement of the intent and level of ambition that is driving the NWSL forward. The two new teams have shown that they mean business and are here to continue to push the league to the next level and provide sustainable opportunities for the best players in America and abroad.