Former University Soccer Player Prepares for Olympics

Last July, the U.S. women’s soccer team lost in an overtime shootout final to Japan in what has become known as one of the most exciting games in FIFA Women’s World Cup history. Leading that team was Christie Rampone, the star of the University’s women’s soccer program in the mid-1990’s. Using that game for added motivation, Rampone is now preparing with her teammates for a chance at winning a third consecutive gold medal in the 2012 Summer Olympic games in London this July.

“There’s a lot of emotions still lingering from that loss, but we’ve had time to recover and use that to our advantage as we train for the upcoming Olympics in London,” Rampone said.

Rampone , who has been captain of the team since 2008, said that having the Olympics in London brings added excitement to the event. “England is such a huge soccer country, so the enthusiasm of the crowd will really bring a lot of energy into the atmosphere,” she said.

The Olympic atmosphere is something that Rampone is used to. She has represented the United States at the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Summer Games. She also played in the 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 FIFA Women’s World C up F inals. The 1999 U.S. women’s team took first place in the World Cup, and the 2004 and 2008 U.S. teams won gold in Athens and Beijing. According to www.teamusa. org, Rampone is the most capped active woman soccer player in the world, meaning that she has the most international games played of all active players.

Rampone’s position on the team is center back, which is the last line of defense before the goalie on the soccer field. Although this was not her position while playing at the University, the skills she acquired through training at a national camps and learning from other experienced players allowed her an easy transition to this defensive role.

Krissy Turner, coach of the women’s soccer team at the University, says that Rampone’s athletic ability allowed her the opportunity to adjust to a new position and become a dominant figure on a successful national team. “Christie has a tremendous athletic talent and she has proven herself at the highest stage of competition so many times,” Turner said. “ Her talent to organize a play through communication and positioning is what makes her such a great center back.”

Along with staying mentally sharp to support her keen awareness on the playing field, Rampone said that her daily workouts are critical in maintaining the strength and endurance needed to compete on such a high level of intensity as the Olympics. “I continue with my routine of rigorous training every day, such as sprints and kettle ball exercises, but I’ve also added yoga to my schedule which helps in keeping a good balance to the routine,” Rampone said. “I make sure I recover as much as I train.”

Rampone’s commitment and dedication also can be seen in her relationships with her teammates and coaching staff. Turner is friends with one of the assistant coaches of the U.S. women’s soccer team, who told her that Rampone is a player who teammates go to when they have a problem. “As a captain, she is an extension of the coaching staff,” Turner said. “She is well respected because of her work ethic, fitness and veteran experience.”

Along with helping some of the younger members of the team, Rampone’s knowledge of the game also assists in some of the coaching strategies as well. “On many occasions, Christie breaks down game film which helps the coaching staff in making any necessary changes that need to be made on the field.”

Rampone’s love for the sport is evident through her visits with the University’s women’s soccer team. In the fall, Rampone cheered on the women’s squad and talked with the team before and after the game. “I love going back to Monmouth,” Rampone said. “It’s always great to catch a game and it is encouraging to watch the girls working so hard and being successful. I make it a priority to remember where I came from.”

PHOTO COURTESY of Mitchell Haaseth/ NBC Olympics