During the Women’s World Cup, my daughter and I sat next to each other on the couch and cheered on the US Women’s National Team. My daughter has played soccer for a few years and is dragged along to additional practices, since I coach her older brother’s team. I have long wanted my daughter to become a passionate soccer fan and I saw that during the World Cup. Wanting to fan the flames of her love for soccer, we made a short trip from NYC to Rutgers University to watch a Sky Blue FC game.
Since we had a press pass, we watched most of the game from the sidelines and my daughter watched the game and the women up close. After the game, my daughter interviewed midfielder Taylor Lytle.
(MD stands for “My Daughter”)
MD: When did you start playing soccer?
TL: I started playing soccer when I was 6. I had an older brother that was 8 and I wanted to be just like him.
MD: When someone punches you or plays dirty, do you get them back when nobody is looking?
TL: I actually have never done that. I feel like that if someone does something dirty like that, they’re just playing soccer for themselves. So, if someone plays dirty against me, I just dribble around them and play around them.
MD: I once saw a football player that had a secret Skittles stash. Do you have a secret candy stash?
TL: I do actually. At half-time I like to eat gummy bears.
MD: What is your favorite candy?
TL: I am a big chocolate person so Snickers is my favorite candy.
(My daughter showed enthusiasm for the answer.)
Your’s too? Alright!
MD: Has a coach yelled so much at you that you cried?
TL: No, all of the coaches that I have had knew when to yell and when to stop yelling. I feel like if a coach ever did that, you have to shake it off and know that they are just frustrated.
MD: How long have you been playing soccer?
TL: I’m 26 and started playing soccer when I was six, so 20 years. That’s a long time.
MD: Were you scared when you began playing on a new team?
TL: I was because it’s always hard when you have to meet new girls and new players. So when I came to a new team, I had to get out of my comfort zone and talk to as many people as possible.
MD: When you lose a game, how do you get yourself happy?
TL: When I lose a game, I like to think about all the good things that happened within the game and all the good things that I did within the game. Then during the week, we practice on the things that happened in the game that broke us down. So I like to think of all the positive stuff.
MD: What did it feel like when you played in your first professional soccer game?
TL: Oh, It was amazing because it was always my dream to play professional soccer since the 1999 World Cup. That World Cup was really big for me; so ever since that World Cup I wanted to play pro soccer. So I was overwhelmed with happiness when I started playing.
MD: Are you close to your teammates?
TL: I am. I’m super close. I live in a house with 5 other teammates. So it’s really fun. Constant chaos in there. A lot of talking.
MD: When one person on your team makes a mistake, how does that make you feel?
TL: I don’t really mind, because in soccer, you get the ball so much that you’re bound to make mistakes. So I tell them to shake it off and the next time you’ll get it back.
MD: Who did you look up to when you were a little girl?
TL: I looked up to my older brother, because he was just like me. He was small and really liked being on the ball. So I really looked up to him. We played a lot alike.
MD: Where is your favorite place to play soccer?
TL: My favorite place to play soccer right now is here because it is grass. I like playing on a grass fields. Turf fields hurt the body. I love playing at Rutgers.
MD: How did your family support you growing up?
TL: My parents were really big athletic people. They constantly told me to have fun playing soccer and enjoy it and pushed me to be the best that I could be.
MD: How old were you when you wanted to play soccer as a job?
TL: I wanted to play at a really young age. I would say 5 because of my brother. I got really serious when I was about 9 or 10.
MD: When you hear someone say that boys are better than girls at sports, how does that make you feel?
TL: It makes me want to work harder, because I feel that girls are just as good as boys are at sports. We work just as hard and go through the same stuff that they go through. We play 90 minute games just like they do. So it makes me want to work harder and prove them wrong.
MD: What do you do for fun when you are not playing soccer?
TL: Here we go to the beach a lot, which I really enjoy. I also like puzzles.
We stepped away from the interview and I hugged my daughter and told her what a great job she did, when my daughter exploded with excitement. “She is just like me! She started playing when she was 6 and so did I! She looks up to her older brother and so do I! She is small and so am I!”
One of the things that struck me about Taylor Lytle’s answers was with the way she talked about her brother. As a dad, I hope that my kids are close with one another and that they look to one another for guidance, inspiration, and help. It was touching for me to hear from Ms. Lytle that her reason for playing soccer was her older brother. She wanted to be like him and play like him and that helped her get to where she is today. That is a great lesson for siblings and should be inspiring for parents. Ms. Lytle looked up to her brother and now has girls and boys looking up to her.
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