Heather O’Reilly shared her feelings on Instagram after it was announced last week that she didn’t make the U.S. Olympic team. (She is an alternate who will travel with the team to Brazil and could be used if a roster player is injured.)
The three-time Olympic gold medalist showed grace and professionalism at what was no doubt a very difficult moment for her:
First and foremost, I want to say congratulations to all my teammates who were chosen to represent the U.S. on the 2016 Olympic Team. While I am incredibly disappointed to not be on the roster of 18 players for Rio, I am also proud.
I am proud that I competed and that I truly went for it. I am proud that I bring my unique qualities to the table every day. This team deserves that. This country deserves that!
In the 230 games that I have played for the USWNT so far, I have done it with my whole heart, with every ounce of me, regardless of the role, to help us win. Whether I was a starter, or a substitute, or even the times that I did not see the field. At the end of the day, I love this team, and I love representing all of you.
The U.S. Women’s National Team is special and it is an honor to be part of it. And next month, I will travel to Rio with the team as an alternate. Once again, whatever I need to do to help the U.S. win, I will do with my whole heart. And of course, I will be ready to go if called on. Now, let’s go win gold! #roadtorio #uswnt
U.S. coach Jill Ellis praised the 31-year-old veteran midfielder for the way she took the news and for her willingness to serve as an alternate.
These players, you don’t know that they want to be alternates. You hope they do, but with Heather I said, ‘Are you prepared for this role?’ And she said, ‘For sure. Of course.’ It was a phenomenal response.
Ellis said midfielder is “the hardest position to make on our team.” There were six mids chosen. O’Reilly’s competition included Carli Lloyd, Tobin Heath, Morgan Brian, Megan Rapinoe, Lindsey Horan, Allie Long, and Sam Mewis. Not only that, three of the four forwards chosen — Crystal Dunn, Mallory Pugh, and Christen Press — can play the midfield.
O’Reilly, the coach said, “had a tough job and she gave everything she had. She’s extraordinary.”