Thanks for reading my third blog post for Women’s Soccer Zone. Here’s a bit of recap of the last few weeks!
Currently we are in fourth place and we have played four league games so far. After coming back from behind against Birmingham in the first game of the season, we have since lost to Manchester City away and drew with Bristol at home. We then regrouped and got an important away win against a young and improving Everton side. We would obviously like to be sitting on 12 points right now, and the fact that we are not is disappointing, but is also a driving force. We can be much better and will continue to work hard to get the results that we want. We have also kicked off our Continental Cup campaign, and it is interesting and different for me to have Cup games weaved throughout the regular season, as we don’t do that in the US league.
Lastly, we are undergoing a manager change, so that has been difficult. I am very grateful to Pedro Losa for his hard work for the team and club and belief in me, and for bringing me to Arsenal Football Club. So although there have already been highs and lows so far, as there always is in sports, we need to continue our intense level of focus on our goals.
As Arsene Wenger told my friends at Men in Blazers, “A life of a strong human being is to have a long term target and not to fade during that trip. Who can maintain that focus? Who is capable to go from A to B without being down, who can maintain that motivation level?”
So that is what we will do.
Keeping up with the Americans…in good times
Obviously in this day and age of social media, (you can find me on “the Twitter”, as my former coach Mike O’Neill would say) I don’t have a problem keeping in touch with people back home or keeping tabs on things that are happening.
Since I have been overseas, I have seen an entire NWSL season come and go and a championship held. I tried to watch as many games as I could, usually on my laptop in bed due to the time change. I told coach Vlatko Andonovski (a mentor of mine) that watching his games put me to sleep; I don’t think he loved my joke. I was really pleased that the North Carolina Courage had such a successful season because the move to North Carolina happened so abruptly and I know so many people worked their butts off (that is such a weird phrase when you think about it) to make the season a success. Plus, that is my home and I love that community.
But a big congratulations to the Portland Thorns for winning the championship! That fan base is amazing, and the team is comprised of a very deep and talented group of players, that from the outside, is well managed by Mark Parsons. I am also very proud of Tobin Heath, who was out for a long time with injury and anyone who knows Tobin knows that it is excruciating for her to not have the ball at her feet. To see her hoist the trophy was wonderful to see because she is a pure winner. She has played so many roles on so many teams and she just knows how to win. Tobes if you are reading this, which I am sure you are not, respect dude.
I have also been heartbroken by a lot of things that I see happening at home. From the Charlottesville riots and deep and hurtful divisions amongst people, to the devastating storms that have come through, to the US Men’s National Team not qualifying for the World Cup, and now this most recent awful act of terrorism that has hit NYC, it has been a challenging few months to say the least.
Although I think sometimes we can get fatigued, I think it is imperative that no matter your arena or platform, that you continue to try to bring energy and positivity into the world everyday; be kind to people, work hard, laugh, serve others, be better than you were the day before, and live with a deep optimism. To others that might seem naïve. To me, it is naïve to overlook those qualities. I promise to continue to do that and continue to explore ways that I can help.
So kind of a funny story to bring this blog post back up again! As I have mentioned before, driving on the left took a little getting used it. I thought that I have mastered it, but sometimes it is still a bit of a challenge. Recently, I must have bumped my passenger side mirror because the glass bit became loose and it eventually fell out. (Don’t judge, these parking spots are so narrow!) I had to get it fixed. But in the meantime, I was driving without a passage side mirror for a few days (Not safe, I know, Mom).
But metaphorically speaking, it allowed me to continue to look forward. To move forward. Although it is critical to be reflective, it is just as critical to truly commit to creating a better future. This is true as a footballer, and as a human.
Part of the reason for coming to England was to gain another perspective of this amazing game we all love. To continue to grow. It has been an incredibly interesting adventure so far and truthfully, I have experienced a lot of new ideas and views that I never would have just playing in the United States for my entire career.
Just last week was an international break, so all the national team players went to compete with their various national teams. At Arsenal, we have players representing Sweden, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, Netherlands, and of course, England. For the last fourteen years, I split my time playing for both club and country and so never really experienced what it is like for the players “left behind”, which now I do. I love small group trainings, as you get so many touches on the ball, so it was really fun for me. What is so important for any player at any level is to never lose your growth mindset. Always strive to get better, learn, refine, and add layers. As my college coach Anson Dorrance told us over and over, ‘view your life is a never-ending ascension.’
I probably didn’t need to ding my passenger side mirror to remind me of that, but hey, moving forward!
Fun new things on my horizon:
I am reading the book by Gwendolyn Oxenham called Under the Lights and In the Dark: Untold Stories of Women’s Soccer. It is incredibly interesting and I recommend it to anyway who believes that professional football is all glitz and glamour.
I am now an ambassador for Camden Watch Company, check out my page on their website and also their super rad products.
— Heather O'Reilly (@HeatherOReilly) October 6, 2017
I am now friends with a guy named Danny Karbassiyoon, who interestingly is an American that played for Arsenal in 2004, yes, the year of the Invincibles. I will be interviewing him for this blog soon; he doesn’t know it yet.
And lastly, as you may have seen I have teamed up with Common Goal. More on this soon but you can read more about it here.