Kristine Lilly is a 2-Time Olympic Gold Medalist and World Cup Champion for the US Women’s National Soccer Team. She is the most capped football player in the history of the sport with 23 years of professional experience. After her retirement, Lilly co-founded the TeamFirst Soccer Academy, a company that provides soccer camps, clinics, fantasy camps all around the country.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up in a small town, Wilton Ct. It was a great place to raise a family. My childhood was filled with sports. Whether I was playing in the backyard with my brother and cousins or in organized sports, it was always with boys. It didn’t bother me that I was the only girl playing. I just loved to play.
Baseball was my first love and then soccer took over when I got close to high school. I think my brother was a big influence on me. The one thing he did for me that I don’t think he realized the impact, was that he let me play. He let me tag along and play sports with him. He just said no crying. He gave me that feeling that I was able to do anything, it didn’t matter if I was a girl or his little sister tagging along.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
I wish I would have realized earlier in life that life was going to go by fast. As I have gotten older it feels like it is flying by. When you are young you want to be older and you don’t stop to smell the roses enough. I wish I took some more deep breathes in my past. Now I am trying to take moments and just be happy with what is in front of me.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
In my profession of coaching kids and public speaking, I hear or get asked a lot, when should my kid specialize in one sport. I do not think a child should specialize at a young age. I even think in high school they should be playing more than one sport if they like. Kids are only young for so long, and I enjoyed all the sports I played. Not only that the sports gave me strength and helped me in other sports. So baseball helped me be better at soccer. Plus I met different people in the different sports I played. So I do not like when people are suggesting or telling kids that they need to do one sport if they want to be better.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
I have been very fortunate in my life. I have had family and friends that have supported me and loved me. When I look back on my life, I had a hard time when my parents got a divorce. It still is something that is not fun for me. I think it is hard for any age kid to go through that. One thing that got me through was soccer. Soccer was the place where I felt free and could let out all my emotions and just play. What I learned is that you have to get your feelings out in some way. I also learned that no matter how old you are, your mom and dad are so important.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
When I look at my career in the US. Women’s National Team, my fitness was the key to my longevity. Partnered with my ability I was able to play more games for my country than anyone. I do believe my fitness helped me accomplish that. Plus it makes me feel good and strong when I am fit. I am still very active today and am trying to set that example for my kids. Living a healthy lifestyle in how you eat and exercise and sleep are so important.
What is your morning routine?
I wish a had a routine and I am trying to be more consistent. I wake up between 6:30-7:00am, trying to get up at 6am, but not there yet. I usually work out right after I wake up. I have a glass of water and try to get my workout in. Whether it is a run, a ride on my stationary bike or some yoga, that is what makes me happy. Then I usually get my kids’ breakfast and lunch ready for school. Get them off to school or organized for remote learning and then I take my dog for a walk in the trails behind my house.
Being outside is something I love. Then after the walk, I come back straighten up my house, do some work on the computer or run some errands. Then the kids are home and it is all about them. My goal also is to add some meditation to my day. I have moments of it but not consistent yet.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
In the past couple of years I have been trying to live a healthier lifestyle. I think I was pretty decent before, being a professional athlete, I was doing some good things already.
Now I have more of an understanding of what food is doing to my body and what is best for my body. The amount of junk and toxins in our food is something that I try to stay away from. I have done some specific things. I have started to have a smoothie for breakfast. I also have had vitamins to my daily intake. Exercise is still a part of my daily routine but rest and recovery days are just as important for me.
Having kids you want to provide for them and show them what it takes to take care of yourself. Changing our eating habits aren’t easy but they are coming along and the kids are playing an active role. I have to say having some ice cream sometimes is just the answer for everything. A loss in a game, a long day, or just a hot summer day.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I could use some help in being more productive. I do a great job of making lists and then I get caught up in all I have to do. So I really have started to be really specific. Breaking my week down into specific days. I do this on Monday and then this on Tuesday, etc…. When I have things lingering in my head it just causes me stress. Plus I think being comfortable asking for help, is something that benefits my efficiency and livelihood.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I think we go through life always looking for more when what we need is right before us. I also feel that giving everything you have in everything you do is all you can do and you hope it makes an impact and means something to someone.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
I have the mantra that I write on player cards with my autograph, “Always Believe”.
Also one of my favorite quotes is “ What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Ralph Waldo Emerson