Photo by Rachel Maddow. Rachel, center, is joined by (l. to r.) Athlete Ally Pro Ambassadors Megan Rapinoe and Lori Lindsey, Pro Ambassador Heather O’Reilly, and teammate Ali Krieger. License information here.
Graham Hays profiles Pro Ambassador Heather O’Reilly, and looks at the hunger and challenges that keep her motivated.
She had a lead on time when she was 17 and labeled the future of women’s soccer. She wants to keep it that way as she nears 30.
“That’s what keeps me driven and excited to come to training every day because I have an incredible hunger to improve,” O’Reilly said. “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but I feel like there is a lot more in me and a lot more growth potential. I love soccer, I love coming out to train, I love feeling like I’m improving.”
It can feel sometimes as if O’Reilly has been around forever. She is a link between Mia Hamm and Alex Morgan, a bridge between generations. She has more appearances for the United States than all but six women: Kristine Lilly, Christie Rampone, Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett and Abby Wambach. Coaches have come and gone — Jill Ellis is now the fifth to send her onto the field for the national team — but she keeps making run after run. For a good chunk of a fan base that skews young, she is as much a part of the proceedings as the national anthem.
Yet she isn’t old, not unless LeBron James, who was born three days before her and graduated from high school the same year, is old too. O’Reilly is only now, finally, approaching 30, a birthday that will arrive five months before next summer’s World Cup. It is an athletic agelessness afforded only to those who do not wait their turn. Those who do not have to.
You can read the full article here.