In Part 2 of the latest Soccer Nation Sitdown, United States World Cup winner and Olympic Gold Medalist Megan Rapinoe continues her conversation with Nate Abaurrea.
It is sure to be an intriguing read, as Rapinoe addresses her well documented national anthem protest from 2016, her outspoken nature as a person, her passion for social justice, and why she feels athletes should never feel obligated to “just stick to sports”.
In addition, Nate and Megan go through some interesting rapid fire questions, as we learn a bit more about the U.S. star, including her musical tastes, favorite foods, and which male soccer player she most admires.
Nate Abaurrea: Megan, I think it’s safe to say that 2016 was an interesting year for you. What would you say was the impetus for you in 2016 to go about things in the way that you did?
Megan Rapinoe: It was nothing new, really. I think I’ve always been very willing to use my platform for good, for stuff that I believe in, and in turn hopefully inspiring people to be their best selves.
Specifically in 2016, the kneeling came about, and it felt like it wasn’t ever really a question of should I or shouldn’t I. It wasn’t a question at all. It felt like I could get involved and I could wage in in this small way to bring awareness to a massive issue that more people need to talk about, even if it’s very uncomfortable for a lot of people.
I think it’s always been part of my personality, and if I can wage in in a way that is effective and can help, then I want to be there to help.
Excerpt from Rapinoe’s post-match interview after her initial national anthem protest in September, which she said was in solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick:
“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it. It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support is something that’s really powerful.”
Nate Abaurrea: Megan, with everything we’re being faced with here in 2017, how do we eliminate this rhetoric of telling athletes to “stick to sports”, or “just play the game”? What goes through your mind when you hear people say things like that?
Megan Rapinoe: It’s very frustrating. It really dehumanizes the athlete in a way. We’re not just people who play on Sundays, or whatever it may be, the same way an accountant isn’t doing accounting work 24/7. We have other interests. We have gone to school for other things. We’ve traveled the world. We can have very unique perspectives, as lots of people do. I think it’s all of our responsibility to wage in, especially in a celebrity obsessed culture that we live in and athlete obsessed culture that we live in. We have a responsibility. There’s always a lot of eyes on us, and a lot of kids’ eyes on us. I think we have the ability to effect great social change as human beings.
Nate Abaurrea: Megan, it’s time to do a little rapid fire. You ready for this?
Megan Rapinoe: I am RRRRRREADY!
Nate Abaurrea: Alright, we start with the national team.
Favorite memory in a U.S. Women’s National Team uniform?
Megan Rapinoe: The win over Canada in the semi-finals of the Olympics was pretty epic.
Sort of a non soccer moment with the national team was in 2015, when U.S. Soccer surprised us with all of our moms coming in on Mother’s Day for a game. That was pretty awesome.
Nate Abaurrea: A memory that stands out from growing up in Redding, California?
Megan Rapinoe: Definitely going down the back steps at Jack’s Grill, where my mom works.
Nate Abaurrea: Favorite song to listen to before a match?
Megan Rapinoe: Oh man, that varies a lot. I think right now it’s Kiiara with “Gold”. It’s kind of a little dancey tune that I like.
Nate Abaurrea: How about favorite song to listen to after winning a match?
Megan Rapinoe: Hopefully it’s a big one and it’s Queen.
Nate Abaurrea: Which Queen song are we picking?
Megan Rapinoe: We Are The Champions. Hopefully it fits.
Nate Abaurrea: You have been known over the years for your dance moves. Do you have a favorite dance move?
Megan Rapinoe: Hmmmm… Maybe just a little hip swivel.
Nate Abaurrea: Are we talking like an in-game hip swivel? A celebratory hip swivel? A dance floor hip swivel?
Megan Rapinoe: It could be anywhere. You just don’t know when the hip swivel’s gonna pop up.
Nate Abaurrea: Do you have a favorite male soccer player?
Megan Rapinoe: Yeah. Iniesta.
Nate Abaurrea: Andres Iniesta? Wow. What do you like so much about Iniesta?
Megan Rapinoe: Everything! He’s amazing. It’s always the goalscorers that get all the juice. I just think he’s like the glue of that Barcelona team, much like Xavi was as well. Iniesta’s just so creative. He’s so talented. He’s such a great dribbler and such a great passer. He doesn’t score a lot, but I feel like no one else would if he wasn’t in there.
Nate Abaurrea: Favorite movie?
Megan Rapinoe: Hmmmm.. probably Shawshank Redemption.
Nate Abaurrea: Favorite food?
Megan Rapinoe: Right now, Vietnamese.
Nate Abaurrea: You into the pho?
Megan Rapinoe: Oh yeah. I’m into the pho.
Nate Abaurrea: Favorite thing about the city of San Diego?
Megan Rapinoe: Seventy and sunny, all the time. Except for right now.
Nate Abaurrea: Megan, why is soccer the greatest game in the world?
Megan Rapinoe: Oh gosh… It’s just so free flowing and expressive. It takes creativity and intelligence. It takes physicality, but there’s a grace to it that I think is unparalleled in other sports.
Nate Abaurrea: Alright, last question. What do you hope these girls and young women take away the most from this clinic with you, your sister, Shannon MacMillan and all the other fantastic instructors in attendance?
Megan Rapinoe: I hope they’re inspired. I hope they had fun. I hope they learned a little something. I hope they go away knowing that they can just be themselves and that’s good enough, and pass that on to all their friends as well.
Nate Abaurrea: Megan, thank you so much for joining us.
Megan Rapinoe: Thanks again for having me.