Onward and Upward

U.S. Women’s Soccer Forward Christen Press on overcoming loss and finding balance

We’re simply in awe of 28-year-old U.S. National Team and Chicago Red Stars soccer player Christen Press and her remarkably balanced life. Though she plays professionally for the Red Stars for four months of the year, and the National Team for 11 months of the year, Christen keeps herself grounded by doing daily yoga and meditation, playing with her two dogs, hiking, shopping, volunteering in elementary schools, and jumping in the ocean near her parents’ house in Los Angeles whenever she can, something she says is very calming to her. And she’s recently taken up chess. #Rad

Her ability to find balance and grounding has come in handy lately, as Christen and her National Team teammates recently returned from a disappointing ending in Rio. The U.S. team was favored to win gold, as they had four years prior, and at the 2015 World Cup. But a tough match-up against eventual silver medal winner Sweden in the quarter finals ended in Sweden’s favor. What made matters tougher on Christen was that she held the high-pressured task of taking the final shot, which she didn’t score.

But Christen is holding her head high, while still admitting major disappointment. Soon after the team’s loss in Rio, Christen tweeted: "Still heartbroken. But the most important journeys are not the easy ones. Onward, & I promise, upward." And catching up with her just a couple weeks later, Christen told us: “Losing hurts. But the process of getting back up and forcing yourself to move on is the most important lesson we can learn as an athlete. The most uncomfortable moments are the best opportunities to grow.”

Christen, who has two dogs and has made her love of pooches no secret, received an outpouring of support from her fans in the form of a hashtag campaign. “#dogsforChristen” gained momentum after one fan posted a picture of her dog, with the hashtag, hoping to cheer up the soccer star.

“Not often does social media make me feel good,” Christen said of the movement. “It was beyond kind and surprising to see that after we lost. I am grateful for all the support, and also reminded of the beauty of human kindness.”

We’re confident Christen will continue to use her platform as a popular professional women’s soccer player to fight for equality in women’s pay, both in sports and in life, while she continues to kick ass on the field. Before leaving for Rio, she told us that fighting for equality is something she’s passionate about. “The better role models we are,” she said, “the better opportunities we have to make change in the world.”

Christen is now back in Chicago, back on the field. The forward has resumed business as a goal scorer in the National Women’s Soccer League, and isn’t letting what happened in Rio hold her down. “I have a Nike shirt that says: ‘There is no finish line.’ When I got back to Chicago, I pulled it out. I think that’s the point here,” she says, “to keep going and get up for the next challenge.”

Hell. Yeah.