Soccer Star Christie Rampone Brings Positive Message to Manahawkin

Accountability Is Paramount, Olympian Tells Southern Regional Students
Apr 27, 2016
Photo by: David Biggy U.S. Soccer star Christie Rampone speaks to student-athletes at Southern Regional High School on April 26. The three-time Olympic gold medalist talked about the challenges she has faced during her career as an elite athlete.

Christie Rampone has been asked tens of thousands of questions during her professional and international soccer career. But one Southern Regional High School student-athlete on Tuesday tossed out an inquiry she hadn’t heard since her teenaged years.

“Will you go to the prom with me?” junior Anthony Ferringo asked from the back of the auditorium toward the end of a question-and-answer session with the 40-year-old U.S. Soccer star and three-time Olympic gold medalist.

“I haven’t been asked that question since high school,” Rampone said with a laugh soon after her speaking engagement, during which she addressed about 500 student-athletes regarding the challenges she’s faced in becoming a world-class athlete. “I’ll have to check with my schedule and ask my husband if it’s OK with him for me to go.”

As part of a Southern Ocean Medical Center presentation, Rampone detailed the triumphs and failures she’s endured during her 19-year career – from adjusting to 15 different professional coaches and six U.S. national team coaches, to overcoming concussions and ACL surgery in 2001, and balancing life as a professional soccer player with her family life.

And while she specifically spoke to student-athletes, her positive message really was for a bigger audience.

“When I speak to students, I try to focus on telling them about the journey,” she said. “Life isn’t always what we perceive it to be. There are obstacles and challenges that we’re going to face, but how we overcome them is really important.

“Life isn’t fair. There are going to be good days and bad days, and everything’s not always going to be good. Mistakes are going to happen. Things in life happen. You’re going to have highs and lows. You’re going to have deaths. You’re going to have marriages. You have friendships. You have conflict.

“And everything I’ve done in sports has prepared me for that ‘real world,’ as we call it.”

During her talk, Rampone outlined several key factors she believes have made her the best athlete and individual she could be, and implored her audience to follow suit.

“The most important thing for me is accountability,” Rampone said. “You’re going to go far in life if you can self-evaluate and hold yourself accountable for how you played. Are you playing your best? Are you being a good teammate? You have to know your role. Think positive and be positive. Don’t play the blame game. Don’t point fingers.”

One other point she hammered was to “play hard and have fun,” in addition to being “a good loser and a respectful winner.”

During the Q&A, students asked a variety of questions, but one answer in particular seemed a bit shocking to some.

“I don’t listen to music,” she said in response to Nate Skodi’s question of which artist she most listened to before games. The remark raised a buzz amid the audience.

“I’m going to challenge all of you to try this,” she continued. “Try to work out with no music. It’s a mental challenge, and it’s hard. But if you’re looking to music for that distraction, you’re not going to have that distraction during the game.”

As for her advice on how to deal with concussions, it was simple.

“Concussions are tough to deal with. We don’t want to be out of the game,” she said. “But concussions are serious; it’s really important to address it immediately. Think about the long-term effects. Take that time to recover.”

The former U.S. national team captain also reminded those interested in being leaders among their peers to keep a positive perspective about those around them, and let everybody have their say when resolving conflicts.

“Be a good leader, but also be a good follower,” she said. “Put everybody else before yourself.”

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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