I had a chance to ask Cat Whitehill a few questions this week. The Atlanta Beat defender and 2004 Olympic Gold Medal winner tells us a bit about how she began playing soccer and talks about how her team hopes for a surprise ending to the WPS season. Check it out:
Nell Enriquez: We know very little about how soccer became a part of your life. How did you get started? Who – whether family, friends, coaches, teammates – has been influential and encouraging to you and why- on having a professional career?
Whitehill: When I was a kid, I just went up to my parents and told them that I wanted to play soccer so my dad picked up soccer for dummies and started coaching me. After that, I knew I loved the game and I never wanted to stop playing. My family and friends have always encouraged me to follow my dreams. They have always kept me humble and they have always supported me. Anson Dorrance, my coach at UNC, prepared me properly and encouraged me to keep working hard to live my dream of playing on the national team and professionally. I had so much support along the way, and I am very grateful for it.
NE: Many of your teammates are new to professional soccer. Being one of the more experienced players on the team I’m sure you can offer advice. Let’s turn the tables around for a minute. What have you learned from them so far this season that has surprised you?
Whitelhill: I just love that everyday they come to practice and are ready to work hard and improve. Every single one of my teammates never settles for yesterday because they want to keep improving for tomorrow.
NE: The regular season is just about half way here. You have nine games under your belt. How do you feel about where the team is, your role on the team and the style of soccer you are playing?
Whitelhill: We are growing. Obviously we aren’t happy with the fact that we have only won one game, but we definitely saw improvement in the last game. We are really beginning to learn each other’s tendencies, and I hope we can make a season ending run and surprise a bunch of people.
NE: You’ve had to takeover as goalkeeper at least twice now! I happened to be at the Freedom game when that occurred. You put on the goal keeping jersey so quickly that I hardly knew what was going on. I have to ask, what was your first thought when you had to step in then and when it happened again this season? Getting any pointers from Alli Lipsher?
Whitelhill: Honestly, I just knew someone had to do it, and since I had done it before, I just stepped up. I knew we were out of subs, and we needed a goalkeeper. I don’t enjoy the fact that I have had to step in because that means either my goalkeeper has been injured or gotten a red card, but I also don’t want any of my teammates to have to play either. I am staying away from pointers for now in hopes that I never have to play in goal again, haha.
NE: For a defender you sure make one heck of a striker. Your 11 goals with the USWNT say it all. Talk a little about how a defender is either able to create those opportunities and/or how to cash in on plays that lead to goals.
Whitelhill: Well for me, it always helped that I was able to go forward on corner kicks, and I always try and get in a good position. It helps when you are up there with Abby (Wambach) because everyone keys on her, so sometimes I was left alone. It’s amazing how many goals Abby scores even with all those players on her; but, when the ball didn’t come her way, I was always trying to be in the right position. I was also a forward until i got to college so i still find myself trying to get forward as much as possible. If I am close to the goal, you can almost count on me to shoot just because I am not that close that often.
NE: Thoughts on the current situation of the NFL?
Whitelhill: I just hope they figure everything out. What I hate the most is that the people who aren’t players or owners are going to lose money while those other sides try to figure it all out. The players need the league, the owners need the league, and the front office needs the league. As a fan, we can move on because that is what we do even though we don’t necessarily want to. I really hope they figure everything out because I just love watching football.
NE: We all know about your love of football and the road you’re on to one day become a broadcaster. Tells us a little know fact about yourself that maybe even some of your biggest fans may not even know.
Whitelhill: Great question. I feel like my love for football and dogs are a pretty well known fact about me. I love to cook but I kind of get embarrassed cooking for others because I am afraid they won’t like it. Robert seems to like my food but he has to!
NE: Favorites: What is your favorite – Movie, Song, Food, Book?
Movie: Moulin Rouge
Food: Ugh, I love food! Maybe finding fun pizza joints has become a new hobby for me food-wise. I love to cook and eat different pizzas.
Book: Definitely the bible but I also love harry potter books, I know its chessy but I love fiction and wrapping myself in my imagination.
On Saturday, June 4th the Atlanta Beat did surprise with a 0 – 0 draw against the Philadelphia Independence. Their next match is at home at KSU Soccer Stadium, at 7pm against magicJack.
Check out more of Nell Enriquez’s photos at http://www.nellenriquez.com/
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