Who Is Becky Sauerbrunn? New Details On The U.S. Women's Soccer Defender Competing In The World Cup

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Who Is Becky Sauerbrunn? New Details On The U.S. Women's Soccer Defender Competing In The World Cup

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team won all three of their games in the first round, defeating Thailand 13-0, Chile 3-0, and Sweden 2-0. They have advanced to the knockout round of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and faced off against Spain on June 24th, winning 2-1 with forward Megan Rapinoe securing a penalty kick gaol. If they win this game, they advance to the quarter-finals in a match against France on June 28th!

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the U.S. team is the most successful team in international women’s soccer. They’ve won three Women’s World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. But you’d be wrong if you think they are receiving the same pay as their less-successful male team counterpart. And alleging unequal pay, the entire team filed a recent lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation.

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The lawsuit is ongoing and shouldn’t be a distraction from these talented ladies. And we’re curious to know about their personal lives in the process. So, who is Becky Sauerbrunn? Here are 9 things to know about the defender for the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team.

1. She began playing when she was young.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Becky Sauerbrunn (@reeba04) on Sep 21, 2016 at 10:47am PDT

Growing up in Missouri, Sauerbrunn had two older brothers who encouraged her to get tough, mentally and physically. According to her, “Aside from physically toughening me up, they also toughened me up mentally. I learned how to take it. It taught me how to not really rely on other people to solve my problems. I think that kind of stayed with me. I’m very motivated internally. I’m a bit of a scrapper.”

And because of that, she started playing with the JB Marine Soccer Club when she was just 12 years old. In high school, she played soccer, basketball, and volleyball and was the team captain for the soccer team, acting as sweeper and central midfielder. She was named 2003 Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year, 2002 and 2003 Parade All-American, 2001 NSCAA Youth All-American, and 2002 NSCAA Adidas (U-17) All-American.

2. She continued to play in college.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Becky Sauerbrunn (@reeba04) on Apr 16, 2017 at 8:31am PDT

After graduating high school, Sauerbrunn attended the University of Virginia and played for the Virginia Cavaliers women’s soccer team from 2003 to 2007. Though she missed the 2004 season because she was preparing for the 2004 FIFA U-20 Women's World Championships in Thailand, she received a numerous amount of award, including 2003 ACC Freshman of the Year, ACC All-Academic Team, NSCAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and ACC Player of the Year.

While still in college, Sauerbrunn was on other teams, including the Boston Renegades in 2005, and the Richmond Kickers Destiny from 2006 to 2007.

3. Her professional career is quite impressive.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Becky Sauerbrunn (@reeba04) on Mar 3, 2018 at 5:11pm PST

In 2008, Sauerbrunn began playing for the Washington Freedom and in 2009, she joined the Women's Professional Soccer league. In 2009, she played for Røa IL, a Norwegian sports club for three months, but returned to the Washington Freedom in 2010 for the season. She remained on the team while it went through a name change to magicJack in 2011, until the franchise was terminated later that year.

Shortly after, Sauerbrunn signed with Sky Blue FC, but the league folded. She then played for D.C. United Women in 2012, but couldn’t play due to team obligations for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

From 2013 to 2017, she played with FC Kansas City, and was co-captain. She was named the 2015 Defender of the Year, the third time in a row, as well as the 2015 NWSL Best IX three times. In 2018, she transferred to the Utah Royals FC, where she currently remains in addition to USWNT. She played in the 2011 and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.

4. Her teammates and coaches praise her attitude.

According to Utah Royals FC, Laura Harvey, “You rely on her for everything. Everyone knows how good Becky is, but I didn’t really appreciate how good she was until I coached her myself... We rely on her every single day.” 

And teammate Kelley O’Hara agrees, comparing herself to the defender: “I’m very vocal and loud and you can see it; I’m animated. Whereas Becky, she’s pretty even-keel and steady Eddie. If you do something wrong, or if she needs more from you, it’s not like me, where I’m yelling, like, ‘Let’s go!’ With her, it’s a look... Everyone knows the Becky look. It’s a staple thing.”

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5. And she’s gained confidence in herself in the process.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Becky Sauerbrunn (@reeba04) on Mar 19, 2018 at 7:03am PDT

Because being vocal “doesn’t always come naturally for her,” she had to find a way to set herself apart. How did she do it? By forming relationships with the women she plays with.

“I’ve gotten to play with a lot of people. To build those relationships, you need to be more vocal, you need to take the time to figure out what makes them tick. It’s something I’ve evolved more over the last four years, taking the time to understand the people around me... 

I think that every player that makes it to the national program has something that sets them apart from others — for some it’s speed, or ability to finish. For me, I don’t have any of those other things. So I knew I needed to find something to separate myself from the rest of the pack. I said, ‘Why don’t you be the person everyone can rely on to bring it every single day?’”

6. She publicly thanked her idol.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Becky Sauerbrunn (@reeba04) on May 28, 2015 at 4:50pm PDT

In a piece for ESPN, Sauerbrunn wrote a letter to her idol, Carla Overbeck, a retired soccer player for USWNT:

“The best advice you gave me was to accept that I can't please everyone, to pick my battles wisely and to understand that I can't lead on my own. Find the people who have your back at all times, you told me. I did, and it helped lift the weight off my shoulders.

We wouldn't be here today if you hadn't had the courage to boycott a tournament in Australia six months after winning the World Cup until you got better pay and more security for younger players. We are building off that foundation today with our equal-pay lawsuit. We're going to continue to close the gap between the men and the women. True success is when there is no difference. That's when we will have done our job, when the need for trailblazing is no more because equal pay for equal work will have become the norm...

So thank you for being you, for being a text away should I ever have a question or am in need of encouragement. The '99ers are the reason I am playing in this World Cup today. I had the motivation as a young player to be great, you showed me what greatness looks like.

7. Ruth Bader Ginsburg thanked her!

In March 2019, the USWNT members wore the name of a woman who inspires them during the SheBelieves Cup. Sauerbrunn wore Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s name on her jersey, saying, “Dissenting opinion, battling cancer and then showing up to vote... what can't she do? I just think she's amazing.” She also set RBG her jersey.

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To thank her, RBG wrote Sauerbrunn a letter, saying, “The jersey will be my favorite for the biweekly workouts that keep me in shape.”

8. She’s explained how being a defender is incredibly important.

Though being a defender doesn’t come with the adoration of other roles, Sauerbrunn still thinks it’s an essential one.

“You know, you’re not scoring goals and you’re not getting a lot of glory, but I think defending is so important and I think that team success is based on how well the team can defend. I am very proud to be a part of that,” she said. “My approach to defending is more ‘problem-solving,’ so it’s actually more mental than physical. I have never been the fastest or strongest or anything like that, so for me, it has always been, ‘Okay, how can I position myself the best?’ For me, it’s always figuring out where the attacker is going before they even figure out where they want to go.”

9. She’s in a relationship.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Becky Sauerbrunn (@reeba04) on Oct 9, 2015 at 10:43pm PDT

Sauerbrunn is currently in a relationship with Zola Short, whom she has been with for quite some time. Though it’s unknown exactly how they met, they both attended the University of Virginia at the same time, and have been dating since at least 2011. 

He’s the Director of Soccer Sports Marketing for Adidas. And like any good boyfriend, he travels everywhere with her, cheering her on at the Olympics and the 2019 World Cup.

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.