By Michael Lewis
NEW YORK — Christie Rampone said the 2017 National Women’s Soccer League season likely will be her final season in competitive soccer.
Rampone, who turns 42 on June 24, has enjoyed a remarkable and legendary career, told reporters of her plans at the announcement of the NWSL having a game of the week on Lifetime as part of a three-year partnership with A+E Networks Thursday morning.
U.S. Soccer also will honor Rampone in her home state when the U.S. women take on France in the She Believes tournament at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. March 4.
“I think that this will be the last summer,” Rampone said. “I’m retiring obviously from the national team. I’ve been retired, celebrating it next month at Red Bull at the She Believes game. Going through the season and kind of enjoy the latter part of it. Starting in New Jersey, ending in New Jersey. Coming through full circle, it doesn’t end any better than that.”
Few details are known about the proceedings in the March 4 encounter, although the Point Pleasant, N.J. native said that she probably won’t suit up for the game. The ceremony will be either prior to kickoff or at halftime.
On the other hand, there is plenty known about Rampone’s illustrious career, which included performing on two Women’s World Cup championship teams (1999, 2015) and earning three Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008, 2012) and a silver (2000).
She has made 311 international appearances, second most in the world, since breaking into the team in 1997.
If this is her final season, the Monmouth University basketball and soccer standout will close out an 11-year professional career as well that started in the Women’s United Soccer Association, continued in Women’s Professional Soccer and ends with the NWSL.
“I’m going to go through preseason and kind of see how the body feels,” Rampone said. “Obviously having two daughters that play the sport and wanted me to continue to play [helps]. … It’s a combination of them wanting me to play and giving back to the younger players. My role might change this year.”
And Rampone doesn’t mind that at all.
“I am very open minded to the fact that I don’t have to play every minute of every game and its up to the coaches’ choice on how many minutes I will play if I play at all,” she said. “For me, it is to help the girls continue to grow and have this league grow because we want to stay on top of the board. We want to be the best team in the world. I think this is a great platform for all these players to come in and experience it. If I can help in any aspect, I’m going to try to do that.”
Rampone said that she would “absolutely “like to continue to be involved in soccer via coaching. She coaches her younger daughters’ youth teams.
“I would love to get involved in some aspect,” she said. “I think every coach needs that player who can actually play on the field as an assistant coach. So, I can still continue to learn and grasp ideas. you can’t just jump into being a head coach somewhere if you have no experience even though I have played at the highest level and I know how to conduct a training session and I know the mental side of the game.
“If I can actually be on the assistant’s side, being able to play and get that viewpoint on the field and help that coach, maybe it helps Christy [Holly, head coach] to advance at Sky Blue, maybe it will be at the college level. Having children, I will be staying locally in New Jersey in some aspect.”
It remains to be seen whether Rampone will be an assistant coach at Sky Blue. Rampone said that time will tell.
“I think that would be the future,” she said. “Let me go through and see how the body’s feeling. An easy decision whether to play. My role can change easily this year. I’m OK with that. I’m having open discussions with coach Christy and saying, ‘Let me see how I feel,’ whether its all or its nothing. Let’s make this decision somewhat together vs. forcing him to cut me or elsewhere like having my body breaks down. That’s the thing why my career is so long. I am very aware of how I’m feeling and how my body is and making decisions on what’s best for it.
“I’ve been working out every day and feeling great. My knee feels really good. It feels strong now it’s playing at that level game, being able to train and possibly doing double days. I have that open rapport with the coach: ‘Hey, I kind of need that day off here and there.” Obviously at my age, I’m all in. when I’m training, I’m 100 percent. I don’t go 50 percent. So mentally for me i have to be all in or I can’t complain.”