Sunday, January 8, 2012

Our Very Own Captain America - Christie Rampone

The year: 2065. The planet: Earth. (Correct, we will make it past December 21st, 2012) The Headline: US Women's Soccer Legend, Christie Rampone retires at the age of 90.

Those of you who think I am being hyperbolic obviously haven’t seen Christie Rampone play recently. She is 36 years old, has had two children and will smoke you up and down the field all day long. I'm really not even sure how to describe this amazing woman. (I use the term 'woman' because 'soccer machine robot lady' has not been properly copy written and trademarked yet. But I am fairly certain that is what she is.) Since I can remember, I have loved the US Women's National Soccer team. I remember being a young girl watching stars like Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy and Kristine Lily (who I believe also may be a 'soccer machine robot lady') grace the field. Right along with them was the rock, the solid force known as Christie Rampone.  And here she is, more than a decade later still playing some of the best soccer you will ever see.

Rampone is a strong, reliable and communicative central defender. Aka Hope Solo's best friend. Her presence cannot be underestimated.  She is a physical presence on the field with talent oozing out of her pores and is also a vocal presence who directs, communicates and organizes this amazing team.  Yes, if we did not have Abby and Alex and Lauren all scoring goals we would not win games. But if we did not have Rampone directing traffic, organizing the back line and mid field and shutting down every delusional attacker silly enough to think they will get past her; then our lovely ladies up top would never have the chance to score those beautiful goals. They say all offense begins with defense, I say all offense begins with Christie Rampone. I'm not sure if any of you remember that little game we played against Brazil this summer? I think there was a late goal involved...penalty kicks...something like that. Remember? Well go ahead and rewind about one minute before Abby buries that ball in the back of the net and take a look at who started that play. Take a look at who was hounding that Brazilian attacker relentlessly with determination shooting out of her eyes and tracking her every move until forcing the Brazilian forward to turn the ball over starting our attack. That's right...our woman of steel, our Captain America female soccer version...Christie Rampone.  All offense starts with Christie Rampone.

She not only offers up inspiration by the ton on the field but she is also an inspiration to working moms everywhere. I can't really comment on the whole mom thing too much seeing as how I am not a mom. In fact I tend to veer away from children, as they are normally squeaky and sticky. (Christie, if you're reading please understand I am not implying your children are squeaky or sticky. I'm sure they're squeak and stick free.) But I can tell you that those who are moms; moms who want to achieve success in their career and still win a mom of the year award have Rampone to look up to. She has two awesome girls who travel with her and will be able to grow up knowing that they can do anything in life that they set their minds to. She is living proof of it through not only her amazing career but also her positive and inspirational outlook.

Now let's just briefly talk about her fitness levels. She is...her fitness is...when she...because I mean…her level of...ok I thought I could put it into words but apparently I can't. Let me try again. SHE IS THE FITTEST HUMAN ALIVE. Yeah, that works. Scientists, doctors, and any people of the medical profession: may I recommend doing some research on this specimen? Unlocking the secrets behind this perfectly trained and toned body could quite possibly lock in a Nobel Prize for whoever succeeds. She is a perfectly running machine that most 20 something year olds (myself included) would kill to be half as fit as.  I know many other soccer fans will agree that when we sit down and watch those fitness training segments that US Soccer will post from time to time we are all left in awe of every one of these women.  This team is filled with athletes who are beyond committed to their fitness levels.  Watching Kelley O’Hara and Ali Krieger run a beep test until they are barely able to walk, or seeing Abby Wambach bench press what I estimate to be 5092 pounds, or seeing Alex Morgan and Heather O’Reilly annihilate sprint times is all just incredible to see.  But I think we can also all agree that watching Christie Rampone just makes us all a little sick.  Christie, I don’t mean to be rude, but you kind of disgust us; in the best way possible.  It's overwhelmingly amazing.  You’re dedication to this team, to your fitness, to developing your skill and the skill of those around you is something that should never, ever be overlooked.  When us fans sit down and watch these fitness training videos and see you just dominating everything it is truly inspirational.

Briefly, before I wrap this up I just want you to picture something for me.  Imagine you are dribbling a soccer ball down the field.  You have found a seam and gotten behind the defense.  You look over your shoulder and see Rampone is the closest to you but is still yards away. You smile confidently knowing you just need to beat the keeper 1 v 1.  But wait…all of a sudden you are on the ground, you don’t have the ball anymore, and the US has already started a counter attack.  What happened?!  You have been Ramponed, my friend.  You can never, and I mean NEVER underestimate the abilities of this superstar.  But let’s be honest; this scenario will only happen once in a great while anyways.  Although her recovery speed and ability to back track is phenomenal her ability to not have to do either is equally as good.  She puts up a wall in the center of that back line and basically says, “You are not getting anywhere near my goal and my goalkeeper.  You can either face me and be humiliated or you can just hand over the ball now and walk away with your tail between your legs.”  I do not envy any forwards who come across her path.

Determined, focused, humble, versatile, inspirational, passionate, abnormally talented and freakishly fit; a few words in a feeble attempt to sum up this American legend.  Ecstatic, giddy, euphoric, joyous and proud; a few words in a feeble attempt to sum up what we all cannot wait to feel this summer at the 2012 Olympics when Christie Rampone leads the US Women’s National Team to victory.

Christie Rampone is now, and forever will be our very own Captain America and my absolute favorite soccer machine robot lady.

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