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Crystal Dunn talks soccer with Kidsday

Soccer player Crystal Dunn with Kidsday reporters Ruby

Soccer player Crystal Dunn with Kidsday reporters Ruby Tirone, left, and Julia Fortunato. Credit: Newsday / Pat Mullooly

We met with United States Women’s National Soccer Team star Crystal Dunn recently. She is from Rockville Centre.

Does your size affect the way you play on the field [Crystal is 5-feet, 1-inch]?

For a long time it did and that’s because I allowed it to. I think I got it in my own head and I always thought, “Oh my, I’m small. These girls are big. There’s no way I could compete.” But the ball’s played on the ground most of the time. When I turned probably 14, I was so over the whole size thing. I’m short, but it’s fine. These taller girls are probably not going to be able to keep up with me, and you just have to find the qualities that you’re good at. That’s what you have to care about most. You can’t control your height so you can’t sit in a room and pout about it.

On Long Island we have strong programs for soccer. Do you think that joining those helped you advance and move forward in your soccer career?

Definitely. I think organization like that or being a part of anything like that just allows you to be able to connect with people and be able to gain more experience with them. And it just helps your games in so many ways as well because sharing common interests with others is what I love the most about soccer. You could talk to somebody and then they know exactly what you’re going through, and you don’t feel like you have to explain yourself because they’re like, “Oh, I know they’re going through the same exact stuff.” It’s just important to be connected with so many people through soccer.

Do you have any habits or superstitions before a game and if so, what are they?

I’m not a superstitious person. I’m one of those people that I don’t get caught up in trying to do the exact same thing every day. Some people are like that, that’s fine, but for me I love to dance, I love to listen to music. I’m one of those people that they try and catch you on video cameras all the time, trying to embarrass me, but I love listening to music. So I think that’s one of the ways I get into the zone. Some people ask, Why are you listening to Adele before you play?” My music definitely ranges, which is the best way to be. Listen to everything. That’s one of the ways I kind of prepare for the day. I think it’s important to have some personal time, too. Especially being on a team you’re always around the girls and kind of always in their face in close corners with them, but I think it’s important to kind of be able to step away and just say, “OK, what do I want to do today? What do I want to get done?” And then having your own alone time is really important.

Is your jersey number your lucky number?

Interesting. I switched my jersey a lot. So with this team I’m number 16 and it’s a fine number. I don’t have any real attachment to it, but my favorite number is 19. This is because when I was in college, Mia Hamm also went to [the University of North Carolina], and she wore 19. Her jersey was retired but she asked me to be number 19. I was like, “Wow.” I was so scared. I told her no initially and she said, “Why not?” I was like, “Because you’re Mia Hamm. I don’t want to ruin this number, play bad in it and then shame your number.” I was so dramatic obviously, but she was like, “Crys, I really want you to wear this number. It will be awesome for you.” And so she gave me number 19 and I was so happy about it and that’s the number that I wear with my lead team, Washington Square. So as far as numbers go you’re probably going to go through life changing numbers and I think it’s fine to do that. Like right now I’m trying to rock 16. I don’t know anyone wearing 16, but I’m like, “I’m Crystal Dunn and I’m wearing 16.”

At what age did you become serious about playing soccer?

I would say age 13, 14 was like the year soccer was getting really intense. That’s when I was like, “Whoa, this is a lot of hours I’m putting into the sport, I’m hanging out with my teammates a lot more,” and I feel like that’s when it got really intense, but I would say I didn’t think I was going to play soccer after college until my junior year in college. It took me a really long time to think this is what I really want to do and I want to play this game as a career and things like that.

Do you think that the friendly matches are really friendly?

They do stay friendly, but sometimes on the field I feel like, “Oh my gosh, I just got tackled really hard.” Yeah, they are friendly. They are great opportunities for other teams, especially if these games are in the U.S. It’s a real great opportunity for other countries to come to the U.S. and see our culture and experience being in the U.S. It’s a really great time for us.

How was your experience playing varsity soccer in high school?

Those were my glory days. I thought I was on the top of the world in [South Side] high school soccer. I scored a bunch of goals so I was really happy about that. But I think high school soccer is really special, and there’s some people that don’t play high school soccer and I’m like, “You’re missing out in life.” Because you walk through the hall, you are in classes with your teammates, you get to hang out with them and training after. It’s different than club. You guys are on a club team obviously, right? With club you don’t really go to high school with the people you play soccer with. It’s a little bit different, but for me, it was like we had a huge game coming up, like posters were posted in the hallways, and I just felt like it was just a different vibe of playing with the same girls that you go to school with. For me, I had a blast. My team was good. Obviously that helps. We won States, I think three out of my four years, and our bus trips were always awesome. We were singing songs and I’m sure you guys probably do similar stuff like that. That was really fun.


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