Back in May of 2021, the five-year NWSL veteran, Brittany Ratcliffe signed a one-year contract with a one-year option. Then on July 31, wearing No. 27, Ratcliffe notched her first goal in NC Courage blue. Ratcliffe joined Courage Country virtually Wednesday afternoon to answer the 2021 edition of the Starting XI Questions.
2021 Starting XI Questions: Brittany Ratcliffe
During quarantine what’s been your biggest struggle in training and fitness?
I think the hardest part for me when quarantine happened, when COVID hit was the uncertainty. I know we would be checking our emails every day like, “When are we coming back? When are we coming back?” And it sucked because I just want to play. I’m sitting at these walls in my apartment and I just want to know what’s going on.
I think the uncertainty of not knowing when it was going to end, not knowing what are we dealing with. What is this virus capable of? That was really hard but in terms of physical fitness just being alone, a lot, I think a lot of us in this league are fine being alone. We need our alone time sometimes. We go to practice and sometimes we just need time to decompress but when you don’t have practice and you really can’t see your friends, because you don’t want to get anyone sick and you don’t know what’s going on you’re alone a lot and you’re training a lot.
Soccer is a team sport at the end of the day. It’s not an individual sport and you can do technical touches and dribbling all you want, but sometimes it just gets hard. It’s hard to stay motivated. So that was hard training by myself because sometimes you just want someone to ping a ball at you. Sometimes you just want a goalie to shoot at, and when you’re just by yourself, it’s hard. It’s not easy. It’s not super fun.
Then also jumping fences — I know, sometimes I would walk to a field and it’d be closed. Sometimes you have to run sprints and you need to measure out a distance and you can’t. You’re like, “Okay well, maybe I’ll just run from this light post to that light post.” And just like hopping fences when it was cold out. You’re cold but there are no gyms open so you’re like, “Do I freeze my butt off outside? Do I just not work out for that day?”
It was just hard and sometimes just got monotonous — just running because all you could do was run. We’d be running like five days a week, and you’re just like, “I didn’t sign up to run. I want to play with my friends.” That was tough for a lot of people.
What’s been one silver lining for you during COVID?
Yeah, I think a lot of my friends will tell me that I’m a very bad texter — like terrible at texting. If you call me and you to 911 emergency, I’ll answer for sure, but if you’re just texting to chat, I just hate texting. I just hate being on my phone a lot, but in quarantine, there was nothing else to do and when you ran out of Netflix shows you were like, “Well, I guess I’ll call my fourth-grade friend that I haven’t talked to in forever.”
So I definitely think it forced a lot of us to keep in touch. I did some Zoom calls with my old professors from college. I would never do that if things were normal. A lot of friends to trivia nights over Zoom. That was fun. So I think little things like that that you kind of were like, “Why don’t we do this more often?” That was the good thing about quarantine — talking to people you maybe don’t talk to a lot or being consistent in talking to your friends, seeing how they were doing. I did enjoy that and now that everything’s back to normal, no one does trivia nights anymore so.
What’s one thing you’ve learned since becoming part of the Courage?
I think on the field, I learned that — I’ve always worked hard on every team I’ve been on but this team prides itself on really getting after at practice and practices are hard. You leave practice, and you are down for the count for the rest of the day. It’s not only that the practices are hard, but you make them twice as hard because you’re sprinting to every ball you’re not just jogging, you’re not just going through the motions.
Every pass needs to be crisp. If you’re supposed to play to the right foot, you play to the right foot, or the drill’s wrong. I think the attention to detail, the attention to work rate, and making it right the first time are the things I learned when I first got here. My first practice, I was supposed to play it to the outside of someone’s foot. I think I played it to the inside. They were like, “Hey play to the outside foot!” Oh yeah. You’re right. It needs to be sharp.
Then off the field, this team does a really good job of we’re a team first. Whatever, the team comes first. We need to recover because we need to be ready for practice the next day because we need to make everyone better, communication — getting along with everyone, making sure and checking in to see how everyone’s doing and just all around I just think that people who are just really good people. When I first got into the locker room when I first got here I’m obviously a nervous wreck. I see the Courage from afar and I’m like, “Oh, my God. This team’s so good. What are they going to be like? Are they going to be nice? Are they going to be intense?”
You love working hard and playing hard because you love the people. You love the team. It’s not a chore to work out with them because they’re just awesome to be around.
And they were so friendly to me. They were like, “How was your ride in? Where are you from? Are you enjoying yourself?” And I’m just like, “Wow. These are just really good genuine people.” It’s not fake. It’s real and I think that’s one of the things I like most about this team. They’re just really awesome people and you love being around them. You love working hard and playing hard because you love the people. You love the team. It’s not a chore to work out with them because they’re just awesome to be around.
Whether you’re a sub, whether you’re a starter, you root for everyone’s successes. I just think it’s awesome when the team walks out, does the starting 11 walkout, we’re all cheering, “Let’s go!” We’re not quiet. We’re not just going through the motions. That’s our teammates out there. Let’s cheer for them, you know and it’s real. It’s not fake and I think that’s the best part of this team. It’s truly and honestly a team-first culture and the coaches facilitate that as well.
Who is your go-to on the team for advice, questions, and just venting?
God, everyone. This isn’t a great answer, but I do think it not depends on the day, but I think I would say I have great relationships with everyone on the team. I have my roommate and if I come home from practice and we’re watching Netflix / bad movies together, that’s a way to like, “Hey let’s talk about practice. Let’s talk about this Master Chef show we’re watching.
The people next to me in the locker room like Cari and Hazs sit next to me. Kiwi’s the captain. I think like Lindsay, Casey — Casey’s from New Jersey. I just think everyone on this team from the forwards to the midfield to the defenders, I have great relationships with all of them and I don’t feel weird. There’s not one person I don’t feel comfortable talking about like if practice didn’t go well, I have no problem saying like, “I didn’t do so hot at practice today. What do you think I can do better?” or “Practice was super fun” or, “Hey do you want to go for a walk around the apartment complex”
It’s hard to give a specific name. I’m friends with everyone. I love them all so it’s hard. Everyone is that the answer.
What’s been the biggest “a-ha” moment in your professional career so far?
Probably my ACL just because when you do it at 16 it’s different than when you do it professionally. I definitely think getting hurt made me really appreciate this job and appreciate soccer for what it is. It’s fun. It’s enjoyable and whether it’s stressful, whether you’re starting, whether you’re playing, whether you’re, scoring whether you’re going through a slump — all of the goods and the bads, it’s worth it. I think when it’s taken away from you and it’s not there, you’re kind of like, “Well dang. I miss being pissed off after practice.”
Whereas before if you have a bad practice, “oh this sucks,” but when you don’t have it, you’re like, “I would give anything to have a bad practice” or “I would give anything to play five v five or one v ones.”
…I think getting hurt made me really appreciate it and love it more than I already did — more than I ever thought I could
So I think getting hurt made me really appreciate it and love it more than I already did — more than I ever thought I could.
What’s been the biggest adjustment training and playing for the Courage?
You definitely need to hydrate. Obviously, it’s summer now so that’s why I say that, but the practices are hard, and it is cold here. I was in Utah for three years and it’s dry heat so it’d be 100 degrees and your skin just feels hot, but I haven’t played in humidity since college.
When I got here in May, my first practice was hot and I did not hydrate enough for it. I was really tired and really lethargic and was like, “Wow!” If you’re going to sweat, you’re going to lose a lot of pounds. I know our sports science guy says, you lose, on average, like six to 10 pounds after practice, so I think the biggest learning thing I had is you really gotta drink some water and prepare for practices. It’s hot here in Carolina.
We’ll be practicing and it’s honestly funny when you stop moving is when it sucks the most We’ll be doing a passing pattern, I’m like, “Oh, it’s hot,” and then they’re like, “OK get some water” and I’m like “Oh, my God! There is no air out here. I’m pouring the Gatorade all over me. I’m dripping in sweat and water and it’s hot. So I definitely think being hydrated is very important here in this heat.
Who was your role model in the soccer world growing up?
Wayne Rooney — I was obsessed with him. He was so good. It’s funny. I was just on Instagram. I don’t know if it was today or yesterday but I think it was like ESPN FC. They posted something about this time 10 years ago Wayne Rooney signed for Manchester United, and they were posting all his goals and stuff. I just was watching I’m like, “I watched that one. I was eight when that happened,” and I was just so nostalgic. But growing up, Wayne Rooney was my end all be all — like vital. I still go back home in the offseason to New Jersey to my childhood home, and I still have a Wayne Rooney poster on the wall from when I was younger.
I just loved he was so intense. He was so like, “I’m going to score and I don’t care, who I have to foul. I don’t care who I have to run through. I don’t care what I have to do to score I’m going to score this goal.”
Just watching him, I loved him. I loved watching him and then, when he came to DC United, I think I went to a game. He’s just awesome. It’s funny when I first watched him play.
I’m like, “he’s so good,” and now 20 years later he’s literally a legend. I’m like, “right I watched his whole progression and I loved Ronaldo too, but that’s an obvious answer. But Wayne Rooney was he was my guy for sure.
What’s the one essential possession that goes with you wherever you live?
So I actually have and I still use an iPod. I don’t keep music on my phone. I have an iPod that I’ve had since iPods were a thing. It still has all my old music on it from like the Backstreet Boys, 50 Cent to Queen to music that’s popular right now.
I actually have an iPod touch because long story short, if you know anything about downloading music once the software on their computer is too new the computer doesn’t recognize the iPod anymore. So I had to get an iPod touch and this is my phone. So I literally carry it and everyone’s like, “Is that your phone?” I’m like, “Oh it’s an iPod,” and they’re like, “You have an iPod?” Yes, and I can take it with me everywhere.
What sport would you play if soccer wasn’t an option?
Yeah, I would have played softball. I love softball and was a pitcher and a centerfielder. I really did love it. I do love gymnastics though and wish I could do all the stuff that those girls can do, but softball for sure.
What have you binged on lately?
My roommate Peyton, and I have been watching a bunch of shows. We finished The morning Show on Apple TV. We’re watching Master Chef now. I’ve also binged all the Netflix original movies, I love movies, so much so, even if it’s like it’s a 5% on Rotten Tomatoes, I’ll probably watch it.
Question from Casey Murphy: These are quick-fire and are a South Jersey versus North Jersey. You’re from South Jersey. She’s North Jersey and says they’re better people.
They’re not though. All North Jersey, people say that because they’re in denial that South Jersey is actually where it’s at.
Taylor Ham or pork roll?
Italian ice or water ice?
Hoagie or sub?
Hoagie. Did she have all the opposite answers? She put a lot of time into that.
Wow, that’s funny — Casey I love her so much. It’s funny because I played against her in college and she’s younger than me, so I didn’t grow up playing against her, but it was so funny when I first got here, we were just passing before practice and Casey was like, “Hey Britt,” and somehow it got brought up that North Jersey was better than South Jersey. I’m like, “I just met you, and no no no, South Jersey is 100% better. I don’t know who you think you are Casey Murphy,” but from day one I knew we’re going to be good friends. She and I are super close. I love Casey. She’s an awesome person.
2021 Starting XI Questions
Check out the growing number of 2021 and previous seasons’ Starting XI Questions.
Look for more articles on Ratcliffe and the entire North Carolina Courage squad throughout the 2021 season here on Courage Country.