Courage Country sat down with North Carolina Courage’s rookie forward, Leah Pruitt, just a few days out from celebrating her first NWSL goal against the Houston Dash. Like all our interviews so far, she concluded the interview by answering the Starting XI Questions. Read her answers below.
Starting XI Questions: Leah Pruitt
1. What’s a pre-game ritual you’ll never change?
I always have Starbucks because I need coffee. Then I always take a pre-game shower to just wake myself up. I think about the plays I’m going to have in a game — if I’m in front of the goal, how I’m going to shoot. I always wear my hair the same for every game and I usually text my mom and dad too. They’ll say, “Go do you your thing,” or something like that to pump me up. I always listen to pump up music also — probably something Drake or rap or hip-hop just to get you fired up.
2. What’s your best suggestion to youth soccer players to up their game?
Give all you can to the sport and take as much as you can from it.
When you’re at practice, give 100%. Give all you can to the sport and take as much as you can from it. Learn from your coaches and the players next to you, because you’re growing every day.
3. What’s something people don’t understand about you?
People outside of soccer don’t understand how competitive I am with soccer. They just understand it, but I feel like any soccer player or athlete knows that you have to give it everything you have. It’s 100% commitment. Everything outside of soccer is competitive as well — growing up with siblings it’s definitely been like that.
4. What’s the best praise someone could give to you on or off the field?
Just how I am as a person because there’s so much more than just soccer. I want people to call me a good person and I want to be the best team player I can be.
5. What’s the first thing you do when you get home from a match?
Talk to my dad on the phone. He was always at every single one of my games growing up, but it’s harder now because I’m from California. He can’t come to every game anymore. When he was always at my games, he would have these hand signals for me, and I’d look to him in the stands. We’d have little hand signals that he would use to kind of coach me. So now, just hearing what he thought of the game, it helps me a lot, and makes me feel at home
6. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
To always believe in myself and just know that if I gave everything I could — 100% attitude and effort that everything will go my way normally.
7. What person outside your family has done the most for your soccer career?
My teammates and coaches from USC. My teammates were my best friends and taught me so much on the field and we went to battle every day together, making me such a better player. Then there’s the advice I got from my coaches at USC — how much they respected me and wanted me to grow as a player too definitely helped me out.
8. Of all the teams you’ve played with, wherever you go, what’s the one thing that always stays the same?
My passion on the field and how much I love playing. No matter who I’m with, I always have fun playing soccer on the field — definitely both my passion and how much love I have for soccer.
9. Who’s the last soccer player you texted?
I think it was Hailey Harbison. We were just talking about her recovery and all that. I miss her, and she needs to come back soon. She’s being speedy with [the mobility and recovery].
10. What’s your best guilty pleasure?
French fries. That’s my favorite food and I love them. I would eat them every day. I’ll eat them from anywhere and love them.
11. What brings you joy off the pitch?
My family and friends. I have the best times with them, just chillin’ with them. My dog too. I miss her a lot too. I have two siblings, and they’re really close in age so they were my best friends growing up so they definitely bring me pleasure.
Bonus #12 question from Elizabeth Eddy, what’s the most difficult thing you’ve endured in your career and how did you handle that?
The most difficult is when I went through my knee surgery and its problems when I was at San Diego State. I had to worry about recovering and finding a new school. That was a big changing part of my life, but it definitely made me grow a lot and it made me change a little bit of how I played. I don’t go for as crazy of tackles anymore and am way smarter on the ball.
Give me a question for the next player doing Starting XI Questions. Our next interview is looking to be Lynn Williams.
If you could drop everything and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
What would your answer be?
Probably the Bahamas or California so I could go see my family.
Other Starting XI Questions
Check out our other Starting XI Questions from the 2019 season so far:
Read our follow-up article on Leah Pruitt’s rookie season so far.