McDaniel College’s women’s soccer players had a golden opportunity Friday when Christie (Rampone) Pearce visited practice.
Pearce, an U.S. Olympic gold medalist, FIFA Women's World Cup champion and the longest-serving captain of the U.S. women’s national team, ran a drill with the players and observed their evening practice.
Later, she spoke with the college community as well as invited members of the soccer community from around the region at a forum.
Pearce enjoys encouraging student-athletes and sharing her experience.
“I think it’s important for them to be able to identify with a female professional player and just to be able to ask questions and [get] support in anything they may need,” she said.
During the drill, she focused on technique, but later wanted to make time for looking “deeper into how they see the game and what their expectations are.”
“I think it’s like 80 percent of sports is the mental side, how you adapt and adjust to winning, losing, injury, anything that can happen on the field that disrupts your confidence. It’s kind of like anything in life, if your confidence is down, other things are affected,” she said.
Director of Athletics Paul Moyer said, “I think it’s an exciting opportunity not only for the student-athletes, but for the entire college community to have somebody of Christie’s stature on campus.”
He hoped the students would recognize how special the opportunity was and guessed it was something they would remember for years.
“I talked to all of the athletes about, ‘Hey, you only get four years of college. It goes by in a heartbeat. You’ve got to take advantage of every opportunity you get here. You can’t waste a minute,’ ” he said. “This was that kind of moment they need to cherish. I think our community recognizes that, too.”
For Pearce, when she was about the age of the McDaniel players, her father was able to offer constructive criticism that helped her improve her skills.
“If you can’t identify where your weaknesses are, it’s sometimes hard to get better even though you want it, it’s your dream and your goal,” she said.
Pearce is transitioning more into coaching and made her debut as an analyst Sunday during Fox Sports 1’s presentation of the CONCACAF Women’s Championship.
Her advice for the student-athletes was similar to what she’s telling herself about staying confident and having fun in her new role. She hoped they would go after the things they want and not write themselves off until they’ve tried.
“What’s the worst that can happen?” she asked, smiling.
Johanna Rice, a senior defensive player, said Pearce’s advice during the drills would be valuable in their match against Muhlenberg College the next day.
They focused on passing and practiced a few combination plays.
Rice said Pearce’s advice about passing on the correct foot stuck out to her.
“It’s a way of communicating without actually talking. We’ve never said that, but it’s such a true thing,” Rice said. “Something so simple plays a huge part in the game.”
She said the next day’s game would be “a bloodbath. Everyone's fighting for a spot in playoffs,” but with the extra mentoring, “I think that we have the energy and we have what we need. ... It’s about doing everything right. So that kind of put it into perspective for us.”