Late last week, Courage Country sat down with North Carolina Courage’s veteran lightning-fast forward, Lynn Williams. Like all our interviews so far, she concluded the interview by answering the Starting XI Questions. Read her answers below.
Starting XI Questions: Lynn Williams
1. What’s a pre-game ritual you’ll never change?
Before the games, I always write on my arm, “TOR,” a “25,” and a heart. 25 is my uncle who passed away. He played football for the University of Washington, and in a freak accident, a head-to-head tackle severed his spinal cord and then passed away a year later. This is a really sad story, but he lived with my family for a year, so I got to see all of that. I think that anytime I see that number, I think that I get to play the game I love. If I’m ever hurt, I’m not that hurt. It’s just a reminder of why I’m playing, and that I’m so blessed to play.
“TOR” is my boyfriend — his mom passed away two years ago of breast cancer — three years ago now. Wow. I like to carry the ones that have had a huge impact on my life and it’s another reminder that I’m still here. I still get to play the game I love, and I put it all out there for them. And then a heart because I think you should always love what you do. Anytime I’m in a game and am feeling a little sluggish, or the wind’s out of me, I always take a little glance at my arm and it gives me a little extra oomph. If I get out to warmups and I don’t have it on my arm, I have a little mini-freakout and need to find a Sharpie.
I think that soccer’s the game, and that’s amazing, but there’s so much more to life. The game does give a lot to a lot of people and it’s given a lot to me.
2. What’s your best suggestion to youth soccer players to up their game?
I think you should just surround yourself with people that are going to help you reach the goal that you want — whatever that may be. Sometimes there are going to be people who doubt you. Sometimes there are going to be times where you doubt yourself. Just surrounding yourself with people who are going to help you get there and encourage you to get there and have your best interest at heart — I would say that and also if you love something, practice it over and over and over again. If you have time to get out in the backyard or play video games, just get out there. Mess around with the ball. It doesn’t even have to be that I’m going to practice this trick — just touching the ball and getting a feel for it.
3. What’s something people don’t understand about you?
I think when people see me play, it’s easy to pick out and say, “she’s fast.” But I don’t know if people always recognize I’m not just a fast soccer player. I think I’ve always struggled with that, and had a problem with that. I do think I make good runs, and get into good spaces, My touch can always be better. My finishing can always be better, but I do think that for as fast as I get going, my touch is pretty good. I think I’m always fighting to be more than just a fast soccer player.
I’m also somebody that can make fun of myself. I’ll just bring it up. When we were in Houston, and I took that PK. I was like, “oh my gosh. That was horrendous!” I always struggle with Tweeting it out there, and bringing all that pressure on to me, but I’m not going to do that again. I hope not, because that was just terrible, but I already knew it was bad. I already laughed at myself, and rewatch it. I literally passed it to her.
I’m pretty sarcastic, and I laugh about the things I mess up with. I was actually shocked it wasn’t in the highlights for the game. It was just so bad.
4. What’s the best praise someone could give to you on or off the field?
I think just that on the field or off the field that I was a good teammate and did everything for my teammates. I think that’s it. If I got on the field, and someone said, “you were really selfless today and you really did everything for your teammates, that’s amazing.”
I think off the field as well. Thank you so much for carrying this for me today.
5. What’s the first thing you do when you get home from a match?
I put my bag down. I take my shoes off. I sit on the couch and I eat food, and usually a Coke, maybe a milkshake, trashy food. Then I go through my social media and see what is going on. I can’t fall asleep after matches for forever. I literally sit down on the couch. I could probably go to bed. I just sit there and eat. I usually want a burger or french fries, chocolate shake, Coke.
The most awful part is we have practice the next day for recovery and you wake up the next morning and you’re not necessary tired or sore, but you just feel hungover. You just want to stuff your face and then talk about the game, watch the highlights. If there’s something I felt I could have done better, I usually watch that so it’s fresh in my mind. But usually, I just turn on the TV and just sit there, call my boyfriend and ask, “did you watch?”
It’s a 17-hour difference. If it’s 3 pm here, it’s 5 am there. So if our game is at 7 [pm], it’s 9 am there. So it’s like, “did you wake up? What were you doing?” Most of the time he’s like, “I slept through it.” True love.
6. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I feel like I have a couple — one of them from my mom. Growing up, she always told me there’s always going to be someone worse than you and there’s always going to be somebody better than you. I think in everything in life I’m grateful for what I have because someone’s always worse off than you, but also you always need to work hard because there’s always going to be somebody out there either trying to take your job. I do that on the soccer field and in my own life.
I don’t know if it’s a phrase or anything, but anytime my dad will say, “I’m proud of you, and just have confidence.” He’ll say, “you’re the best player out there tonight.” The second you start believing that, things will come to fruition. It’s something that’s always stuck with me. The second I start believing that, I think things will start working out.
7. What person outside your family has done the most for your soccer career?
There are so many people. I honestly would say Paul [Riley], and my college coach, Tim Ward. My college coach gave me an opportunity when a lot of people weren’t giving me an opportunity. I wasn’t being recruited at all besides Fresno State and Pepperdine. He gave me an opportunity and then believing me that I was going to be successful.
Then obviously Paul because he came into my life when I wasn’t having fun with soccer and made it fun again. Paul has always truly believed in me and there’s a saying that says, “It’s always better to prove somebody right than to prove somebody wrong.” I feel like I’m always trying to prove him right.
8. Of all the teams you’ve played with, wherever you go, what’s the one thing that always stays the same?
That we’re actually crazy. The one thing that’s always been there is competitive cattiness — just because everyone’s so competitive. Every team I’ve been on has always been fun-loving off the field. I think a lot of soccer players are really confident women so there’s always wild dancing going on, because you’re confident enough to do that in front of everybody, or just speaking your mind, just crazy things like going up to strangers. There’s craziness across the board.
9. Who’s the last soccer player you texted?
Let me look at my phone. Elizabeth Eddy. Liz was asking if she could come over and juice at my place.
10. What’s your best guilty pleasure?
Oh my gosh. I am a chip lover. I can throw back some chips and finish bags of chips. That and chocolate, I’m set for life. I like Jalapeno, kettle chips. I love barbecue Pringles. I like ranch Lays, honey mustard — all chips. I’m not a plain chip girl. I want some flavor. I used to think I love chocolate, but I think I love chips more. I come by that naturally. My dad did this to me. If I could have a dream afternoon, I sometimes take a picture, and am like, “what are you eating?” I’ll have La Croix, a normal water, a coffee, and a juice — like a green juice, chips and like some chocolate. I’ll be set for the day. Why do I need four drinks? That’s not food, but it’s delicious and I love it.
11. What brings you joy off the pitch?
Lots of things. My family mostly. I have three nephews and a niece. They make me so happy. I call my sister all the time just to talk to them. I’m like, “put them on the phone.” She’s like, “we haven’t talked in a month,” I don’t care. Put them on the phone. I love them. They bring me so much joy.
I like to think I’m an interior designer. I have this app on my iPad where I can go in and design things and submit them to a challenge. I’m all about concrete counter tops and wood. But I also like black and gold accents and square homes. I want a patio on the roof.
Bonus #12 question From Leah Pruitt, If you could drop everything and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
Australia. I would go to Australia. But I would also go to Greece — and see the white and blue.
Australia, you guys have to go. It’s amazing. Marley is from Melbourne, so that’s where we went most of the time, but we went to the Great Barrier Reef and if you can go there, it’s unreal! It’s the best water snorkeling and diving with huge fish. It’s by far the best country I’ve been to. It’s not such a culture shock. They have a better work-life balance than we have here. I feel safer there. They drive on the other side of the road, so that’s cool. There are different animals.
Give me a question for the next player doing Starting XI Questions. Our next interview is looking to be Jaelene or McCall.
For McCall, what is the best music festival you’ve ever been to and what is your dream festival you could go to?
For Jae, Jae’s tricky. I guess I would ask her how is wedding planning going? Are you excited?
Other Starting XI Questions
Check out our other Starting XI Questions from the 2019 season so far:
Look for a follow-up article on Lynn Williams shortly.