July 9, 2012
Interview by Mike Woitalla
Kristine Lilly, the world record holder for national team appearances with 352, debuted for the USA at age 16 in 1987 and retired in 2010 at age 39. In Part 2 of our interview with the veteran of five World Cups and three Olympic Games, Lilly offers advice for young players and reflects on her youth sports and national team experience.
SOCCER AMERICA: What advice would you give to young players who are striving to reach the higher levels?
KRISTINE LILLY:Go after it. If you want something, work at it. Surround yourself with people who can help you. Listen to coaches. Have fun with it and go after it.
Do other things as well. Don’t just be consumed with soccer. Any athlete in any sport in my generation did more than one sport.
SA: On the boys side, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy has prohibited its players from high school ball. And there are also cases on the girls side where they’re asked to choose between club and high school. Year-round club ball also limits their ability to play other sports. Your view?
KRISTINE LILLY: I think it’s crazy. Telling kids they can’t do something that’s fun and part of their high school is crazy.
I think they’re trying to limit the number of games they’re playing — and some kids are playing too many games — and that’s the way they’re going about it.
But I think kids should be be involved in high school and having fun. And being a kid. One day you’re not going to be able to play any sports and that stinks. So have fun while you can.