The North Carolina Courage are back for 2021. Practices are back in effect with Coach Paul Riley’s full grinding style, and pre-season has begun. Midfielder Hailie Mace sat down with Courage Country virtually last week to be the first to answer our 2021 Starting XI Questions.
2021 Starting XI Questions: Hailie Mace
During quarantine what’s been your biggest struggle in training and fitness?
I mean it’s definitely easy to go out and run, but in order to get soccer fitness, we have to have other people. You kind of just have to play soccer in order to keep the soccer fitness up, so I think that has been really hard because we can’t really train with each other and we’re in quarantine. You can only do like one or two people. It’s just really hard to replicate soccer fitness.
You mentioned running is your go to for cardio.
Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of like biking or rowing or any of that. I don’t even really like running that much, but I have to.
What’s one thing you’ve learned since becoming part of the Courage?
I guess just how to be a professional. I mean I’m surrounded by Abby Erceg, Denise O’Sullivan, those types of girls who are literally 24-hour professionals, so I think I’ve learned a lot from them. I mean Abby literally eats the healthiest I’ve ever seen. Then Sully is very good with recovery and all of that. She’s actually my roommate so I feel like definitely learning a lot more from her also still now today. So I think yeah just being a professional all the time.
We were over there [at Abby Erceg’s place] the other day watching one of the soccer games and she had been baking cookies and I’m like are you baking all this, but you don’t eat it.
Who is your go to on the team for advice, questions, and just venting?
I mean, if I have soccer questions I’d probably go to Sully about that, but I mean I’m pretty good friends with Meredith Speck. I trust her a lot in terms of helping me keep my head up if I’m down or something. She’s really good at that and she’s like one of the best teammates ever so I feel like [it would be] her if I was struggling or needed advice.
What’s been the biggest “aha” moment in your professional career so far?
I used to kind of get all these little injuries all the time and I’m guessing it was because I was never fully fit enough. This offseason I really worked on my fitness and eating the right foods and all of that, and I think and sleeping a lot. Coming in this year, I’ve felt really good. I haven’t, knock on wood, had any like small injuries like I get a lot of muscle strains, so I think just realizing that fitness does play a huge role in being healthy and not getting those small injuries that I would always get all the time, even throughout college — just being fit is huge for me, at least coming in this year.
What’s been the biggest adjustment training and playing for the Courage?
Just the way we train like I can’t remember the word [Coach Paul Riley] uses. It’s either chronic fatigue or something like that, but we trained super hard for short periods of time. We have weights before training, and I think that has been an adjustment like just getting used to training super hard, but really quick — not long drawn out sessions. I think that’s what helps our team succeed is just those really intense tough trainings, but they’re super short and quick. I think that helps a lot with how fit how we’re able to play 90 minutes and still get that last sprint in at the end of the game. I think that helps a lot.
Who was your role model in the soccer world growing up?
I honestly didn’t really have one. I didn’t watch much soccer growing up, and my family doesn’t watch soccer. So I didn’t really have an idol. I still barely watch soccer and I am trying to do better with that, but yeah I don’t really have one.
What’s the one essential possession that goes with you wherever you live?
Let me look around my room — my phone, my computer. Yeah, I would just say those two things are essential.
What sport would you play if soccer wasn’t an option?
Volleyball. I played volleyball in high school and growing up. When I’m home, I play beach volleyball with my mom all the time, so I feel like I would definitely, I don’t know if I’d say beach volleyball, but either indoor or beach would be amazing.
What made you choose soccer over volleyball?
I guess I was a little bit better at soccer than volleyball I had more offers for soccer than I did for volleyball trying to play in college. I also just wanted to be an outside hitter for volleyball and I’m too short to do that, so it just worked out for soccer.
What have you binged on lately?
I’m thinking of one that I just watched and finished. I mean I’m watching The Bachelor right now, so that and I’m watching Little Fires Everywhere. I literally watch it whenever I have any free time. That’s on Hulu. It’s pretty good.
Question from Jess McDonald: What would you do if fear was not a factor and you could not fail?
I don’t know how to answer that. That is tough. I guess I’m kind of thinking, like in terms of if I could have like my dream job type of thing so I think it would be super cool to be a professional chef. I used to watch Chopped a lot growing up, so I feel like that would be super cool to be on that show.
2021 Starting XI Questions
While this is the first set of answers for the 2021 Starting XI Questions, check out all of the previous Starting XI Questions.
Look for more articles on Hailie Mace and the entire North Carolina Courage squad throughout the 2021 season here on Courage Country.