Ashlyn Harris isn’t hanging up her shoes, but she did reflect on her career at the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Awards Show this week.
Harris has been playing football at the professional level since 2009. Four years later, she made her debut for the United States women’s national team. She was part of the teams that won the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 and 2019.
We caught up with Ashlyn Harris to talk about her recent work with Gatorade, favorite moments from her USWNT career, and more.
The spun: Gatorade’s Athlete of the Year program is the country’s most prestigious high school award – what does it mean to you to be able to support the next generation of athletes?
Ashlyn Harris: I love this one so much. It brings back so many great memories from my childhood and I wanted to sit in the position I am in now. I’ve always wanted to be the best version of myself and serve those around me in my sport – on and off the pitch. It brings me joy to see how hungry and inspired these children are. It ignites the younger child in me. This is a good moment for me to sit down and reflect on all the sacrifices and hard work that went into my journey. It’s just a cool position to come back here and share my story with younger athletes.
The spun: I know there’s a lot to choose from, but if you had to choose, what would be your favorite footballing memory to date?
AH: To be honest, it’s always been about the people. To this day, the players I dated are my best friends. I will never forget the 2019 World Cup, especially given the political climate in our country. We gave America something to celebrate at a really difficult time. Seeing how the country celebrated our success will stay with me for the rest of my life.
The spun: What are your thoughts on the USWNT’s recent win over Canada and the team’s overall prospects for the 2023 World Cup?
AH: I think we have a lot of young talent and I look forward to seeing that talent grow and be challenged over the coming months. You’ll have to go through the ups and downs to make sure you’re prepared for the World Championship stage. I feel like we’re in a good place right now. The competition will continue to increase in the future. They’re going to go through tough times, but if they do it now, they’ll only be better off when that moment finally comes. I think the sky is the limit for this team but they just have to be ready for the trenches. Anything can happen in these tournaments.
The spun: How has motherhood treated you?
AH: Honestly, I love being a mom. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life, and I’ve done some pretty crazy things. We want to show that women can do both. That’s why we still do what we do every day. It’s important for people to know that you can be a badass soccer player and a badass mom, you don’t have to choose one or the other. It’s hard? Yes, but we want to be able to do both. We don’t feel you have to sacrifice one or the other. I’m proud of how Ali and I are raising our child. Sloane is with such influential and influential people. I hope she will be able to remember this when she gets older.
The spun: You had a great save from a set piece against Racing Louisville earlier this month. Where is that among your best? moments?
AH: I’m just trying to do my job and show up for the team. I love being in New York and playing for Gotham FC. If I can contribute just a little bit to the team’s success, then I’ll do my job. To be honest, I’m not too concerned with great saves. I only have to do one or two important ones in each game.
The spun: Who is the USWNT’s biggest prankster?
AH: Megan Rapinoe, by far. She is my best friend – I love her. It never gets boring with her. You don’t know where her energy will take you for the night. She brings out that young, happy side of me that’s quite remarkable. Your personality is so attractive to be around.
The spun: If you had to make a Mount Rushmore of USWNT players, who would make the list?
AH: Gosh, that’s so hard to do – whoa. I’m a big believer in not only being a successful athlete, but also serving your community in the right way. It’s not about athletics anymore – how versatile are you? Things like that are so important. There are so many athletes who can contribute in this department.
I would definitely say Megan Rapinoe belongs on the list. She is clearly so influential in our football community. She makes this world a better place. Another person is Mia Hamm. She made women’s football popular. Those would be my two. It would be hard to narrow down a few more. I love Julie Foudy, I love Michelle Akers, I love Briana Scurry. I can sit here with you all day and tell you how important and impactful these women were.
This season is Ashlyn Harris’ first with NJ/NY Gotham FC. She will be back in action against the Houston Dash on July 31st.
Harris, 36, hopes she can encourage and inspire the next generation of athletes like those honored at Tuesday night’s Gatorade Athlete of the Year Awards show.
You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.