A few weeks ago, I read Carli Lloyd’s “When Nobody Was Watching,” which chronicles the 2015 FIFA Player of the Year’s playing career from some of her earliest days up until her recent accolades and the wage discrimination suit brought by the U.S. Women’s National Team against the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF).
For me, it was intriguing to read as someone who hasn’t grown up as a “full-time” athlete. I’ve always played random sports. Little League and Senior League baseball, a random stint at Tae Kwon Do, a ton of beach and indoor volleyball, hockey, and pickup games of basketball, soccer, football, et al, were typically my speed. Until this year, I’d really never regularly played competitive soccer at any level beyond a bit of rec in college, so it was amusing to have those mental delusions of “oh yeah, I know what that’s like” when reading Lloyd’s frustrations with a particular on-field moment. As someone who grew up in New Jersey, it’s had the extra “catch” of reading about the towns she traveled to and trained in, her time playing at Rutgers University, and even the spot she was engaged, as I’m somewhat familiar with all of them.
What I thought was refreshing to read in her book was that she was confident in her abilities as a player (with one notable exception I won’t give away), all the while actually having goals in mind. She worked her way through injuries, challenging travel, and “life stuff” that bogs down almost all of us to get where she is today. You know, two-time Olympic gold medalist, World Cup champion, and well-respected athlete on the world stage.
Also of note were Lloyd’s takes on embattled goalkeeper Hope Solo, who has had her share of run-ins with the law and U.S. Soccer, and all the while she’s described as a “best friend” by the author. She paints a bit of a different picture of some of Solo’s perceived shortcomings, but doesn’t pull any punches or pretend that any of the publicly-known incidents didn’t happen.
Perhaps most important is how Lloyd has taken her self-confidence (and the ever-present words and training of coach James Galanis) to continue to push herself, on and off the field. She continues to be at the forefront of the aforementioned legal action against USSF, but it doesn’t appear to be a distraction to her play on the field.
Whether you like (or love) soccer or not, this is a solid read. It’s not preachy, nor is it self-aggrandizing for Lloyd, and doesn’t appear to have simply been a “let’s cash in on my (and my team’s) recent successes” play, in my opinion. If you’re 15 or 50, give it a whirl.