Lauren Holiday was in the Dallas area on Saturday, meeting with youth soccer players as part of a promotion for Smoothie King.
It wasn’t hard to persuade my bosses to let me cover the event, particularly once I quoted my price, which was: for free.
Below is a slightly longer version of the little story that ran inside the Metro section of this morning’s Dallas Morning News.
I also had a few minutes to talk with Holiday about the World Cup, the U.S. team, winning her second NWLS championship, and, of course, her approaching retirement. I’ll be posting something from that interview in the next day or two.
Kids in Plano get a kick out of soccer star Lauren Holiday’s stories and autographs
By BRUCE TOMASO
On a Saturday morning of perfect football weather, hundreds of young footballers got to meet one of their heroes.
Lauren Holiday, a star of the U.S. women’s national soccer team, was at High Point Park, the seemingly endless soccer complex at Alma Drive and Spring Creek Parkway, to meet with boys and girls, share a few stories, and sign autographs.
The 28-year-old midfielder helped lead the Americans to victory this summer at the Women’s World Cup in Canada, scoring a goal in the final against Japan. She’s won two Olympic gold medals, and, with her club team, FC Kansas City, back-to-back titles in the National Women’s Soccer League.
But life isn’t all winners’ platforms and storybook endings, she told the youngsters.
When she was 3, she needed open-heart surgery to repair a congenital defect. A tanned scar, still plainly visible, vertically divides her chest. After the operation, the doctors told her parents to make sure she stayed active. “I needed to have a strong heart,” she said. “They threw me into every sport, and soccer was what I fell in love with.”
And one of those Olympic medals nearly eluded her. “In 2008, I didn’t make the Olympic team,” she said. Holiday – then Lauren Cheney – was a last-minute addition to the U.S. roster when Abby Wambach broke her leg in the team’s final tune-up before the Beijing Games.
After leading a group – more accurately, a swarm – of about 200 boys and girls through some ball-handling basics, Holiday took a seat beneath a Smoothie King canopy (the blended-drink chain sponsored her visit). For more than an hour, she smiled for photos and autographed posters, hats, T-shirts, soccer balls, magazines, and scraps of paper.
The line of (mostly) young admirers stretched for blocks. The event started at 10:30 a.m. Fans were queued up by 7:30.
Lili Adams, a 10-year-old from Frisco, said Alex Morgan is her favorite player, “because I play forward and she’s a forward.” Still, she was thrilled at the chance to meet Holiday.
“Well, yeah,” she explained. “She’s on the U.S. national team.”
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I also had a few minutes to talk to ber a:a simple matter to