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Q&A With Ashlyn Harris: Balancing Motherhood With Soccer, Mount Rushmore For USWNT, Work With Gatorade

Ashlyn Harris walks off the field after a match for the United States.

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 22: Ashlyn Harris #18 of the United States during a game between Colombia and USWNT at Exploria stadium on January 22, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Ashlyn Harris isn't hanging up her cleats, but she did reflect on her career this week while at the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Award Show.  

Harris has been playing soccer at the professional level since 2009. Four years later, she made her debut for the United States women's national team. She was a part of the 2015 and 2019 teams that won the FIFA Women's World Cup. 

We caught up with Ashlyn Harris to discuss her recent work with Gatorade, favorite moments from her USWNT career and much more.

The Spun: Gatorade’s Athlete of the Year Program is the most prestigious high school award in the country - what does it mean for you to be able to support the next generation of athletes?

Ashlyn Harris: I love this so much. It brings back so many great memories of when I was a kid and I wanted to be sitting in the position that I am now. I always wanted to be the best version of myself and serve the people around me in my sport - on and off the field. To see how hungry and inspired these kids are brings me pure joy. It ignites the younger kid in me. This is a good moment for me to sit and reflect about 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 pick, what would be your favorite memory from your soccer career so far?

AH: Honestly, it’s always been about the people for me. To this day, the group of players I’ve been with are my best friends. The 2019 World Cup is something I’ll never forget, especially with the political climate of our country. We gave the U.S. something to cheer about during a really hard time. Seeing how the country celebrated our success is something I’ll carry 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 outlook heading into the 2023 World Cup?

AH: I think we have a lot of young talent, and I’m excited to see that talent grow and be challenged over the next few months. You need to go through the highs and lows to make sure you’re prepared for the world championship stage. I feel like we’re in a good place right now. Competition will continue to elevate moving forward. They’ll go through tough times, but if they do that now, it’ll only make them better for when that moment finally arrives. I think the sky is the limit for this team, but they just need to be ready for the trenches. Anything can happen in these tournaments.

The Spun: How has motherhood been treating you?

AH: Honestly, I love being a mother. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life, and I’ve done some pretty rad 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 you can be a badass soccer player and a badass mom, you don’t have to choose one or the other. Is it hard? Yes, but we want to be able to do both. We don’t feel like you need to sacrifice one or the other. I’m proud of the way Ali and I are raising our child. Sloane gets to be around such influential and impactful people. I’m hopeful she’ll be able to remember it as she continues to get older.

The Spun: You had a great save on a set piece earlier this month against Racing Louisville. Where does that rank among your best moments?

AH: I just try to do my job and show up for the team. I love being in New York and playing for Gotham FC. If I can just contribute a small bit to the success of the team, then I’m doing my job. So, to be honest, I don’t get too wrapped up in great saves. I just need to make one or two important ones each game.

The Spun: Who’s the biggest jokester on the USWNT?

AH: Megan Rapinoe, by far. She’s my best friend - I love her. There is never a dull moment with her. You don’t know where her energy will take you for the night. She brings out this young, joyful side of me that’s pretty remarkable. Her personality is so attractive to be around.

The Spun: If you needed to create a Mount Rushmore of USWNT players, who would make the list?

AH: Gosh, that is so hard to do - whoa. I’m a big advocate of not only being a successful athlete but also serving your community in the right way. It’s no longer about athletics - how well-rounded are you? Stuff like that matters so much. There are so many athletes that can contribute in that department.

I’d definitely say Megan Rapinoe belongs on the list. She is clearly so influential in our soccer community. She makes this world a better place. Another person is Mia Hamm. She put women’s soccer on the map. 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 all day with you and tell you how important and impactful these women have been. 

This season is Ashlyn Harris' first with NJ/NY Gotham FC. She'll be back in action on July 31 against the Houston Dash.   

Harris, 36, is hopeful she can encourage and inspire the next generation of athletes, like those who were honored at the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Award Show on Tuesday night. 

You can read more of our interviews with athletes or media stars here.