Courage Country sat down with one of North Carolina Courage’s veteran midfielders, Elizabeth Eddy. Like all our interviews so far, she concluded the interview by answering the Starting XI Questions. Read her answers below.
Starting XI Questions: Elizabeth Eddy
1. What’s a pre-game ritual you’ll never change?
Actually, I’m not into rituals. I’m anti-superstitious, which probably is a superstitious thing anyway. I usually have pancakes with some of my teammates, and just hang out — maybe watch a soccer game or half a game. I just try to keep everything so you’re enjoying it because if you’re not, you’ve lost it. If I’m a little nervous, it’s like what can I focus on that would be beneficial? Ok, go watch some film, or read a book, or do something that’s kind of peaceful. The energy level’s not something I’ve struggled with. The intensity’s not something I struggled with. Let’s find a happy medium and a balance. I want to enter this game in this really good mindset of let’s work hard and make decisive decisions and have fun in the process. But if I had to say a ritual, I’d say find the flow state. Just be in a state where it’s all going to work out. Trust the process.
2. What’s your best suggestion to youth soccer players to up their game?
In every single game you play, if you’re playing in a 50-minute game, or an 80-minute game, or a 90-minute game, you will have emotions. Sometimes, you’re going to be super stoked. Sometimes you’re going to be very frustrated. Sometimes you’re going to be distracted. But the cool thing about sports, any sport, but specifically soccer, every emotion you can feel in life can be shoved into this microcosm of a game. So how do you respond? How do you want to feel? Let’s do what we can with the emotions and feelings that we are going to have that are real. How do we work through them? How do we process and effectively and efficiently move to the next state to be in?
I think it’s the coolest thing in sports, and I tell the kids to actually engage and try. Don’t be scared to fail. One kid, I was coming at and said, “I’m going to get you.” Then he didn’t even dribble the ball. Afterward, I had this nice, long talk and said the one thing that’s important to all of you is to never ever give up. You need to always try. It reminds you of the film, Zootopia. Shakira sings a song, “Try Everything.” I was like yes, everybody be a trier in life. After you try, make some decisions. How did it feel? What was I good at? What was I not good at? But try. Do not just sit there and do nothing. That is the most pathetic way to live.
The USC football coach in the early 2000’s, Pete Caroll was legendary. One of his books is called Always Compete. That mindset, if it’s in school, if it’s with my sibling, if it’s even with my parents or friends — I don’t necessarily need to compete against you to beat you, but that’s very fun. That’s not a bad thing to do, but I want to make myself better. To me, it goes back to it’s literally a miracle humans are alive — just the fact that each of us is born, and how we are. That’s statistically impossible, so that’s a huge gift and opportunity so how can you not take that opportunity and try and experience things?
I will say I don’t understand the full correlation yet, but I think that with social media and younger kids, there is this sense of you watch a lot, and then a thought of if I try something and fail, people will see it. So then there’s a shutdown aspect of it, and they become very apathetic. So they pretend things, but won’t fully make an effort or invest because they’re scared of that they won’t be good. But I don’t understand, because everyone’s bad at some point. Mia Hamm was bad at some point. Everybody was bad at some point. Get over it. Get lost in the process of trying, and stop looking at other people and seeing who’s doing what. What do you like to do? Who are you?
Get over it. Get lost in the process of trying, and stop looking at other people and seeing who’s doing what.
I would always encourage kids and I’m really glad soccer’s a way I’m able to have a conversation with you, but there’s a lot of life. Not everyone loves soccer or not everyone’s good at soccer. You remain beautifully unique. You should go spend time. Figure out what you like. If you like art, try art. If you like to do walks, think about things to write about or say. Find what you love to do, and do it. Just try a lot of things, and don’t stop trying until you find something. I think it’s really really sad when a lot of people settle for something that our culture says is successful. If you’re not trying to be the best you that you can be, you’re doing a disservice to not only yourself but the people around you and the world. You were created for a purpose.
3. What’s something people don’t understand about you?
I think one thing people don’t understand is they’ll be like, “Liz, how do you do that? You’re not tired?” Even through college and growing up, I was usually able to do more. I would play two or three sports in a season and sleep somewhat. I just have a lot of fun, and really enjoy life. Everybody is like, “you definitely live life to the fullest, and no one’s ever going to take that from you. You’re really authentic and real and do a lot. But how do you do that?” I don’t really have an answer.
My dad’s pretty big into studying and researching how you live the best way possible. He was making kombucha 20 years ago when it wasn’t cool. He just didn’t care what people thought. He was just like, “I’m going to be me,” and be the best I can be and mom’s similar. That was a cool environment to grow up in, with a couple of siblings.
I’m growing in self-awareness, so sometimes I might not have been the most self-aware in the past. I’m trying to be more like how does that interact with other people? Does that affect them in a good or bad way? So I guess it’s energy level and why you’re so excited, and why I can’t just sit there and do nothing. It’s weird. I have this thing where if I get excited, I get immediate energy until the excitement has worn off or a clear curve — turn left or turn right. It’s sometimes the worst. I’ll be ready to go to bed, and I get some idea, and I’m like, “Oh my gosh,” and I’m diving in.
4. What’s the best praise someone could give to you on or off the field?
Something based on effort, and then something based on creativity. I would also say something about being aware — either of surroundings or yourself — I guess solving problems in a way that’s not traditional or are unique and shows an ability to think at a different level or different ways to solve things. I enjoy seeing that in other people, and I would like to do that also. I’m learning the guitar. Maybe one day I’ll be playing the guitar and making music, preferably not singing, because I’m really bad at that. I’ve been working on my calluses for the past two weeks. They’re there. They’re kind of weak, but they’re there.
5. What’s the first thing you do when you get home from a match?
I usually eat. I really like food. Food is important for sustenance and survival. I usually like to have protein and vegetables and then if I’m just really hungry, anything else. I’ll eat a lot of whatever. But I try to make good choices about that.
If I played 90 minutes, I’m probably exhausted and probably go to sleep. But sometimes it’s hard to go to sleep because you’re thinking of the game, or your body is just in a very depleted and exhausted state. For some reason, you get too tired and can’t sleep.
6. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
One time I was at the pool back home and really good family friends were over. The mom sat me down and was like, “Liz, I think this would help you,” and I think it has. She goes, “You like to say yes to everything. If it sounds fun, you go do it. But then you burn the candle at both ends, but then you get burned out or you get hurt or just like silly things happen.” This was back in high school. She goes, “This is what you need to do. Say yes to the best, and no to the rest.” The concept of that was to pick and choose the things you really want to do. Do that and then say no. You need to learn to say no. That was a really good lesson for me.
7. What person outside your family has done the most for your soccer career?
Tad Boback since I was 14 till I was 18. They called him the soccer monk. He was 6’4″ — white hair, white beard, pencil skinny. He was born in France, grew up in Brazil and then move to America and was a very serious Catholic. He probably had a Sabbath every week. He was in tune to what he cared about — very intentional, very specific. I don’t think he even had a phone. It was emails only. He was the coolest. He didn’t entertain a lot of the silly things we all do. How he approached the game, how he talked about the game, and how he would almost through his words, kind of like how Paul [Riley] does. He’d explain and tell these systems of play. He would say it in these words so we’d have visuals like we have these seven powerful parts of soccer. The first one is to work great all game long on offense and defense — ball in the air and on the ground. I could go on for ten minutes on the mantras he would repeat and repeat and repeat. It was very formative years of how do you play soccer and love the game.
Then there’s John Walker. He played football at USC and played in the NFL for a while. He’s very good at coaching the competitive spirit. Also, he was a phenomenal athlete and just a stud. He helped you understand speed. He was like speed is getting from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. If you teach yourself simple technique and fundamental principles, you will become faster — period.
Greg Baker is also a very good soccer mind that I’ve trained with a lot. Similar time to when I was playing for Tad Boback. I still train with him now when I go back home. He’s very good at training and breaking things down to a granular level. Let’s perfect that moment and then layer it up to full speed. I love training with him.
Then, one of my best friends, Gabe. He’s the same again as me — graduated with me. He played pro soccer and now is one of the smartest men I know. He’s doing AI research, machine learning, and psychology. He’s got this big vision to change a lot of how education is in the world and is brilliant. It’ll probably happen.
He would train me in soccer all the time and he’s from this mathematical and scientific mindset of what’s the most important part of soccer? Your first touch. Let’s work on that all the time. My fifth year at USC, I played lacrosse, was doing grad school, and I technically wasn’t playing soccer, but every single morning, he’d wake up with me at 5:30 and we’d train from 5:30 to 7:30 before I’d have class at 8. Literally because of Gabe, I was able to miss a year of playing soccer and then transition into the pros and do well.
8. Of all the teams you’ve played with, wherever you go, what’s the one thing that always stays the same?
It’s the ability of it being you and the ball, and just being in tune with that. Tom Brady is the best be able to play as long as he has and be as successful as he has been. I would say the one thing I’d take away from what he’s done — the fundamentals never change. I’m always practicing my shoulder things. In soccer, you can always get your touch better. No matter what, you can always get extra reps just to refresh the fundamentals. If you can’t execute a simple thing, you cannot play the game — no matter how much you see or read. If your first touch is bad, your first touch is bad. If your turn is slow. Your turn is slow.
9. Who’s the last soccer player you texted?
I called Jae [Jaelene Hinkle] 20 minutes ago. I was like, “where do I find a cryotherapy place?”
10. What’s your best guilty pleasure?
I don’t really watch TV shows or movies much. I just try to learn more. But I sometimes will watch shows or movies. I like doing that. It’s not really even guilty or bad.
11. What brings you joy off the pitch?
I absolutely love surfing. I love spending time with family and friends and I really love sailing. Nature and humans are the things I love.
Bonus #12 question from Stephanie Labbé, what’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to face in your career? How has it changed or shaped the player you are today? How has it affected how you play today?
100% — my injuries in the past two years. It has affected my play in the sense I honestly think it has made me such a better thinker of the game and just trying to be aware of what does my teammate need, where’s the space, how do I solve it? I have so much room to grow in that area, but I know I’ve gotten so much better than I was. Cool. We’re on the right journey. That’s where we’re at. So much of soccer is being aware and then making the right decision at the right time. A lot of it just takes reps.
You have to be in those environments repeatedly and consistently so that you can learn those new cues to do when and what. A lot of life is when to do what. A lot of us have a lot of things we’re good at, but if we don’t understand when to do it, or don’t understand what to do. Slow down a little. Process a little bit. My brain goes really really fast, so it’s about slowing that down in certain phases so you can be more helpful to others.
Give me a question for the next player doing Starting XI Questions. Our next interview is looking to be Jaelene Hinkle.
I have one that I think would be good for the world to know. What’s the most difficult thing you’ve endured in your career, and how do you handle that? How do you deal with things that aren’t right or are unfair? What’s the best way to handle that? What have you done for yourself in that and how would you encourage others in situations?
Other Starting XI Questions
Check out our other Starting XI Questions from the 2019 season so far:
Look for the full article on Elizabeth Eddy shortly.