A Conversation with Carli Lloyd

Photo credit: Ha Lam for Whole Foods Market


On Monday, May 16, Whole Foods Market Austin welcomed FIFA World Player of the Year, American midfielder Carli Lloyd to their Domain store to meet and greet Austin area girls in an event benefiting Girls Empowerment Network. Amara Lopez, a marketing team leader for Whole Foods Market, moderated a Q&A session with Lloyd, fielding more than two dozen questions from soccer fans of all ages including Stacy, an eight grader from Fulmore Middle School, who wanted to know “What is it like to know you’re the best in your sport, but you don’t get paid the same as the men simply because you’re a woman?” Lloyd, who plays for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and the pro team Houston Dash, tackled the question fairly, saying that although there’s been a lot of positive change since 2005, when U.S. women players were paid per game and not salaried like their male counterparts. Still, pay equity continues to be a priority for her and others. “Right now it’s our duty to continue the fight. This isn’t a jab at our men’s national team, or really, the world. We’re not fighting against men. We’re just fighting to gain more respect as women, I think that’s what we have to remain true to.”


Girls asked Lloyd a wide range of questions, among them: How do your teammates inspire you in and outside of the field? How would you like to see women’s professional soccer change in the next decade and what do you see as your role in evolution of the sport? (“Have you heard of the Houston Dash?” she said, referring to her pro team, to which the crowd responded with an enthusiastic yes.)


Yunuen, a senior from Austin High School, wanted to know who were her role models when she was younger? (Among them, Michael Jordan). Others asked what would she be doing if she wasn’t playing soccer, and, how many times can Carli Lloyd juggle a soccer ball? (The answer: “I don’t know, pick a number,” Lloyd said, smiling. “Make it a high one.” She said she juggles the ball from one end of the soccer field to the other for practice.)


Lloyd shared examples of her career ups and downs, including being let go from the U21 national team and almost quitting the sport years ago. She talked about the perseverance needed to succeed in professional sports. When asked about the biggest challenge she has had to overcome, she says she is in the middle of one now, as she recovers from a knee injury. “There’s not just one challenge, there are constant challenges,” she said. “I’m faced with something now – I’ve been out for three weeks.” She ended positively, saying, “My body has had three weeks forced time off. I’ll come back rejuvenated, hungry, ready for Rio,”referring to the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Before the Conversation with Carli Lloyd, Whole Foods Market presented a check for $10,626 to Girls Empowerment Network, representing proceeds from its north Austin stores’ Community Giving Day on May 5 combined with funds raised from the Lloyd event. Girls Empowerment Network will use its donation from Whole Foods Market to provide more than 350 scholarships to girls attending the 2016 We Are Girls Conference in November 2016 in Austin.


During the conversation with Carli Lloyd, adult soccer fans also got in the game. One father wanted to know did she plan to take advantage of the sunlight on the field when she scored a goal from mid-field during the World Cup final against Japan in 2015? “It’s something Abby [Wambach] and I always talked about, for keepers to be off their line,” Lloyd said. “Did I ever think that I would pull that off in a World Cup final? Maybe not. But if you don’t take any risks, you never know …. I took one touch and looked up, and couldn’t have hit any more perfect than I did — and was lucky enough for it to go in.”


See this unforgettable moment in World Cup history here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBosyOJ3PIY

Felicia Gonzalez