Disclaimer: I would have made this post shorter, but #bae only goes to u20 World Cup once. #YOLO The content in this post accurately depicts my sister and I’s relationship and the dynamic of our dear family.
I called my parents one time to tell them I got a promotion at work. I was on speaker phone and my sister’s response was, “See, you got the pretty and smart and school genes!” I had to remind her that I did play Divison I soccer and have a history of athletic successes. HOWEVER, it’s a shared understanding and we know that she got the over-the-moon athletic genes (I come from a family with super strong athletic genes, which I hinted at last week in a post about the story of my name). But she’s also pretty darn cute herself. And she’ll surprise you with her smarts and wit.
Say hiiiiiiii, to this cute thing, Parker Roberts!
After nearly 15 years of soccer, friendly childhood games of 1 v 1 soccer in the backyard, thousands of squats, hundreds of 120s, who knows how many miles traveled in and out of the country and soccer games actually played, and now a 15-hour plane ride plus the plane rides to get to the 15-hour plane ride, my baby sis is about to play for team USA in the FIFA Women’s Under-20 World Cup 2016 (omg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).
Clearly, she couldn’t be any happier. (photo via @ussoccer_ynt)
We had an honorary World Cup FaceTime chat, which took place 6:16-7:15 p.m. EST time on Nov. 12, 2016 in America and 9:16-10:15 a.m. Nov. 13, 2016 in New Guinea.
From me giving her my hand-me-downs to her giving me her hand-me-downs, like cleats she “doesn’t want because she likes these better” or the tennis shoes I literally wear every day because “she has like five other pairs she can wear,” all of which I happily accept, I’m the proudest sister ever.
Some fun facts about little Park:
- She listens to Christmas music year-round–it “calms her.” Example: It was election night 2016 in America and the next day in New Guinea. While I was crying during the heat of it all, I received a Snapchat from her singing Christmas music with the bee filter on. Through my tears, I found genuine laughter.
- The one word I would describe is her casual. She would say it’s happy or girly. Happy? Yes. Girly? It’s funny considering she used to always make fun of me for being so girly (okay more of a diva). I still think she’s more casual without even realizing it, than anything.
- In elementary school, she was uninvited (okay no longer) allowed to play soccer with the boys.
- Her favorite quote is: “Everything’s going to be okay in the end and if it’s not okay then it’s not the end.”
- She was always No. 1 in soccer–no like actually, the number 1, like on her jersey. She threw everyone by surprise when she changed it one year because she “wanted to be number 22 like my sister.” It was the cutest darn thing I ever did see and now I’m especially flattered.
- Her sports resume goes beyond soccer and includes basketball, volleyball, swim and dive. Funny story: She broke my U12 dive record for our country club (Leawood South), which also became the U12 record for the country club league of Kansas City (CCSAKC). I’m pretty sure she still holds that record today.
- She loves Harry Potter, froyo and scrunchies. “Harry Potter marathon and chill?”
- She transferred from University of Kansas to Florida after her freshmen year of college and will return to Florida as a red-shirt sophomore after her U20 World Cup endeavors.
- She thought her initial invitation from the national team was fake. And my mom told her to also check that it was real. My family is too modest! Read that full story on the Kansas City Star.
Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline.
In my baby sister’s case, she’s born with it and it’s Maybelline–only Maybelline is gifted athleticism combined with a next-level work ethic.
It all began in our backyard.
I started playing seriously competitive soccer when I was about 13. I had a good ride–played for good teams with good coaches, had good support systems which led me to my division I college soccer experience at UNC Asheville that was more than I could have asked for. That’s right where I needed to be. Imagine being 19 and about to play in a WORLD CUP HOLY SHIT and you’re like, “Umm, I think I’m just where I’m supposed to be.” Why I describe her in one word as casual, exhibit A.
It’s not by chance that’s she’s where she’s supposed to be. She started playing when she was 5 and it all began with some sister bonding of recreational soccer in the backyard–which she says she “vividly remembers.” I’ll take partial credit to her successful soccer endeavors. Picture this: The littlest girl on the soccer field with a bow in her hair running through everyone like it’s no big deal. Yeah, that was Park. “I used to cry every time at the top of the stairs when games or practice got canceled.” True story.
I don’t think she has any idea what it is that I do at work or what my job is but she always asks how work is. I whine or vent for a minute, give her the DL about how I’m stressed all the time and this and that and I’m so bad at being an adult. Her response one time was, “Ummmm, yeah I think I’ll just keep playing soccer, that sounds a lot easier.”
The “aha” moment.
Park didn’t always realize how good she was at soccer. Often, we had to nudge her–tell her it was okay to take that shot or stand out on the field. But she had that moment where things clicked and she realized what she was capable of.
“I thought I was good but I didn’t think I was going to go anywhere with it–I was like, yeah I’m just a girl from Kansas and I play soccer. When I played in England in eighth grade I played really well and I was like, okay, I’m kind of good. I talked to my coach and he was like, ‘Well, Park, yes, you are.’ Once that happened, I knew. But I just like to have fun with it and be with my teammates.”
And now here she is about to play for the United States of America in the women’s under-20 World Cup. I literally can’t even. As I publish this post, it’s about 2:30 a.m. in Papai New Guinea. When bae wakes up, it will be game day! Here’s some words from the soccer cutie herself.
Q & A
What are you superstitious about?
“Oh my goodness, yeah. My pink headband. I tried not wearing it but whenever I don’t wear it, it just doesn’t work out. They told us today we all might have to wear the same color because of FIFA regulations so they asked what color and I was like, ‘pink or red!’ and everyone said blue and I was like, ‘Noooooo!'”
She’s been wearing literally the exact same headband since sophomore year of high school. “Mom usually washes it for me but I just stick it in the sink. I would put it on my loop but I don’t in case anything happens to my loop…..”
She would also say that “game day hair is v v important.”
What’s your most memorable soccer moment or experience to date?
“My most memorable soccer experience is with Dynamos, my club team, at nationals the summer going into my senior year. We were the underdogs going into the finals against a really good team. We were not expected to win but we destroyed them. It was the most exciting game ever and I just remember being on this high.”
What do you eat to prep for soccer?
- Breakfast: Oatmeal with a scoop of peanut butter, fruit and honey to sweeten it.
- Lunch: Lunch is dependent on where she is. “When we were in Orlando, I had my first pre-game meal before we played Venezuela and I felt really good so I kept eating the same thing–rice or quinoa with some kind of meat–fish or chicken. I always have a banana and we have these intense electrolyte drinks we have to drink.”
- Dinner: She prefers healthy over unhealthy things–like a salad, and “they make us load up on carbs.”
What’s been the best part about national team?
“Multiple things. The friendships you build with people living so far away from you, what it teaches you not only with soccer but with life as well; you have to be responsible and organized, basically just have your shit together. Currently, I have it together.” (Why I describe her as casual in one-word, exhibit B.)
The hardest part?
“It’s stressful, you always have to be on your A-game, focused at all times and prepared. There are no times to turn off ever. It’s easy to be stressed out if you’re not playing as well as you know you can or you’re having a bad day. We have a lot of film we have to watch so you’re always critiquing yourself but it’s how you get better. Obviously, you want to play but only 11 people can be on the field, but you also can’t get worked up about it because you want to do what’s best for the team. I do a lot of positive self-talk.”
Can you elaborate on “positive self-talk?”
“It happens a lot on the field. If you mess up or aren’t doing as well as you want, you tell yourself you can’t beat yourself up because then it’s only going to be worse; just play soccer like you know how to play. When you’re in your room over-thinking things about training, you have to reassure yourself that things are going to work out, otherwise, you will start thinking about one thing and it leads to another and then you’re having a meltdown.”
Remember when you wanted to quit soccer?
“I think everyone has been through that phase. You’re tired, you’re worn out, you’re just done for a day when in reality all you needed was a break. It was funny because we kind of went over it with my team–I think I’d be in a sorority or like a yoga master. I’d probably be skinny.”
We were #blessed with good soccer parents. How has our family been an important part of your soccer journey?
“I mean, they’re the center of it. Mom and dad drove me to every game, they didn’t try to coach me or get mad, even when I played bad. They’re the happy supporters on the sidelines. When I see crazy soccer parents, I’m like I’m blessed.'”
Little Park also loved coming to my soccer games growing up. I think years of watching and taking mental notes translated over to her soccer savviness on the field. “I always wanted to be like you when I was little. I remember watching you at North [our high school] and I was always so excited and I was like ‘I want to do that.’ I got excited for your club games.”
What’s your message for girls who have big soccer dreams?
“I say the same thing every time. Keep working hard and stay positive with it because sometimes it’s going to suck and you’ll want to quit. I know because I’ve been there but the bad part ends and it makes you better. Enjoy the journey and it will lead you to a great destination.”
Is there anything else you’d like to say to finish up?
Park: “Ummmmmmm, I miss youuuuuuuu. When are we going to hang out?”
Me: “After you a win f***ing World Cup.”
Park: “Okay deal. You, me and my gold medal.”
(Why I describe her as casual, exhibit C.)
Watch The Games
Visit FIFA online for schedules, scores and updates, fifa.com/u20womensworldcup. You can get the full schedule here–you can even change the time right there on the website to see when she’ll be playing!
Team USA kicks off U20 World Cup 2016 with their first game against France, Monday, Nov. 14 at 4 p.m., New Guinea time, which is 1 a.m. my time; so midnight for all my KC/central time zone peeps! (I’m on EST time and it’s 15 hours+ in New Guinea, so to all my KC peeps, it’s 16 hours+.)
- Watch the games LIVE. The games will air on Fox Sports 1. Get the full live TV schedule here.
- Live stream it. The games will live stream from YouTube. Internet connection may not be strong coming from New Guinea so just prepare for that!
- Watch them later. The games will air at additional times on Fox Soccer Plus, get those details here.
Keep up with the games with the hashtag #U20WWC, with @FIFAWWC, the U.S. Soccer Youth National Team on Twitter, @usssoccer_ynt, or I will obnoxiously be tweeting and retweeting things so you can always follow me for enthusiastic and animated updates, @justferriss! 🙂
With love from the proudest sister EVER, GO TEAM USA!