There is a torch about to be passed within the U.S. women’s national team. Stephanie Cox is in camp with the team this week, her first appearance since giving birth to her daughter, Kaylee, in April. Cox is the latest soccer mom to make a run at balancing motherhood with world travel, a feat pulled off with aplomb by several members of the team dating to the days of Joy Fawcett and Carla Overbeck. Being called into camp is a far cry from traveling the globe, but it was the goal on Cox’s radar when she launched her comeback over the summer with Seattle Reign FC.
“It definitely was my goal coming back,” Cox said in a phone interview with The Equalizer during the week. “To try and get back into the season with the Reign and try to play a couple of games and hope to get called in to a national team camp. I’m really excited about the opportunity.”
Cox gave birth to Kaylee on April 7 and made her Reign debut July 25. She wound up starting four of the final five games for the club. Now she is in national team camp for the first time since being told by then coach Pia Sundhage that she was not going to the 2012 Olympics.
“I feel pretty good,” Cox said. “(Wednesday) at practice was intense as always, but I don’t have anything that’s nagging.
“I was kind of not sure what to expect especially with a new coach (Tom Sermanni) but we’re eating meals all together and being out on the field I played with some of the girls so long it really is just like getting back on a bike, just chipping balls into Abby (Wambach) or finding Cheney (Lauren Holiday). I had a lot of fun at practice.”
Cox was obviously disappointed not to make the Olympic roster in 2012, and admitted it was hard to watch at times. But the 27-year-old said it turned out to be great timing to get an jump start on starting a family with her husband, Brian. “I knew that it was the right time to get pregnant and we did.” Now it is the right time to see if she can incorporate the two while making enough of an impression on Sermanni to stick on the international level.
“I’m excited to see what Tom thinks of me,” Cox said, still not knowing if she would be on the roster for Sunday’s match against Australia.
Having the Reign in Seattle was a boon to Cox’s efforts to get back into full fitness since she lives nearby and was able to solicit friends and family for child care duty while she trained. Professionally, Cox has been able to call on the wisdom of those who preceded her as soccer playing mothers, including Christie Rampone, still going strong with two daughters and 38 years to lug around with her.
“I talked to her about how to figure out the nanny situation and how that all works with U.S. Soccer. The Reign were pretty supportive and patient with my progress so that was great to have as a stepping stone for me personally coming back into camp.”
And then there was a particularly humorous moment when Cox and Fawcett were guests on the Reign webcast and the discussion turned to when Cox would return. Fawcett, a mother of three, more or less told Cox to suck it up and go play.
“I always looked up to Joy as a defender and had her (jersey) number (14) when I was young and still as a mom now I look up to her and everything that she did,” Cox said. “So that was a time to get kind of a face-to-face with her and ask her how she did it. It was encouraging to see that she had done it and that her kids are doing great. She’s amazing.”
Cox said she noticed how much she smiled during her first training session in national team camp, likely a factor of having been out of the fold for over a year. She has another year and a half to try and crack the World Cup roster for 2015. First things first, though. Sermanni has to take a liking to her, and the soccer lifestyle has to work for Cox as a mother.
“I definitely want to make sure that traveling with the national team is right for my family and that I still enjoy it. I have so far.”
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