If you were tuned into any part of the Women's World Cup Sunday, chances are your jaw had to be scraped off the floor at least a few times. The U.S. women's soccer team led a pretty impressive victory over Japan in one of those edge-of-your-seat kind of games, ending in a 5-2 defeat. The crowd went wild, with fans across the world cheering like crazy and spilling their beer on strangers in dark bars (okay, just me?). But players Christie Rampone, Amy Rodriguez, and Shannon Boxx celebrated with some extra-special fans: these U.S. Women's Soccer team moms had their kids cheering them on from the sidelines, and the photos are adorable.
Needless to say, being a mom and a pro soccer player is, you know, kind of badass. But it's also a pretty tough gig. As Rampone told The Guardian just two days before the Japan game, "It's tough, but it's my job, you know, and I enjoy it and I love it and they understand." And that certainly comes at a bit of a price. Heading to the World Cup means players have to live, breathe, and sleep soccer all day, devoting themselves to physically grueling all-day practices for months at a time. But here's the really tough part: That means players who have children and/or partners also have to give up a whole lotta face time, either leaving their families at home, or seeing them for just an hour at a time when they are able to travel with them.
But this Sunday, it looks like all that hard work and time apart finally paid off. After the big win, Rampone, Rodriguez, and Boxx each celebrated on the field with their biggest (and littlest) fans — their kids, who happily rushed the field to give their moms a victory hug. And man, was it all pretty adorable...
In one of the sweetest post-game scenes Sunday, U.S. defender Christie Rampone was spotted scooping up her 5-year-old daughter Reece and giving her a giant bear hug — in what was surely a moment filled with tons of emotion. Just last month, Rampone chatted about the challenges of training for the World Cup while being "Mom." (Especially if that means you're not physically around.)
"Things happen and we're still responsible," says 40-year-old Rampone, who also shares another daughter, 9-year-old Rylie, with husband Chris Rampone. Case in point: the time her kids both got lice, and her husband was "freaking out he had no idea what to do." As the 40-year-old shared in a video released on the U.S. Soccer website, "I was saying, 'Call your sister, we'll need you to help out,' and then I was just like, 'OK, whatever, call the salon.' He took them to the salon, got rid of the lice. We're all good, but Dad and hair sometimes doesn't really mix."
Though she laughs about it now, her friend and former teammate Julie Foudy says that being away from her kids is definitely the hardest part for Rampone. "You are training for the World Cup and you are away from your children, that's hard," Foudy told The Guardian. "But you are pursing a dream and this is what you have to do."
For Amy Rodriguez, Sunday's FIFA game victory was the culmination of a lot of hard work. But that's definitely something this mom is no stranger to. In an interview with USA Today recently, the mom of one talked about giving birth to her now one-and-a-half-year-old son Ryan but also about how hard she pushed herself to get back into soccer afterwards, unable to give up her dream of playing again. "I thought I was gonna die," Rodriguez said to USA Today. "I was like this is so much harder than I thought it was going to be. I remember crying."
But hey, that emotional roller coaster wasn't for nothing. "My breakdown got me here [to the World Cup] I guess," Rodriguez quipped. "I was scared I couldn’t go back to soccer. And I didn’t think that I wouldn’t because I wanted to try. I wasn’t ready to be done with soccer when I found out I was pregnant, so I was really grateful to get back on the field."
Sunday's win was no-doubt a whole lot sweeter with little Ryan by her side.
In the U.S. Soccer video, 38-year-old Shannon Boxx also weighed in on how being a mother has changed her, as well as the way she approaches her career. "Experiencing this with my daughter has been a big reason why I wanted to come back after having her," she shared. "Once you have a baby and they're on the road with you, you're doing this sport because you love it, and you want them to experience it with you, but you also realize it is a game. You have this little one, who is the most important thing in the world, [which puts the sport] into perspective and it makes you enjoy what you do so much more."
Having kids on the road isn't just fun for players with kids, though — their teammates also get a kick out of having them hanging around, too. "All the kids on the team have 23 aunts who are ready to play with them, and when it’s time to change a diaper you give them back," midfielder Heather O’Reilly joked to The Guardian. (Yep, sounds like a pretty fun road trip if you ask me.)
Want more? Check out all three U.S. "soccer moms" dishing on motherhood, life away from home, and their love of the game in this official video from U.S. Soccer: