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Kidsday interviews Olympian Christie Rampone

US Women's soccer player Christie Rampone with Kidsday

US Women's soccer player Christie Rampone with Kidsday reporters Jonathan Lopez, Casey Baron, Eleni Kothesakis and Lauren Levkolic, they all go to Manor Oaks School in New Hyde Park. They met her at the Citibank building in midtown Manhattan. (April 12, 2012) Credit: Newsday/Pat Mullooly

We met Team USA soccer captain Christie Rampone this spring in Manhattan. She is leading the women's team into the London Olympics.

When did you start playing soccer?

I started playing soccer because my older sister started playing. I wanted to be just like her, follow in her footsteps. I was the young sister, always wanting to do [something] by driving her nuts at that age.

How did it feel to be the first player to ever play 3,000 minutes in a year?

It was a lot of work. It was awesome to be able to perform and play and stay on the field and represent your country. That's the best part about playing for the U.S. team, and it's an honor to be able to play that many minutes. The coach put me in to play all that time.

How old were you when you started playing soccer?

I was 5 years old when I started playing -- noncompetitive, and then I was 11 when I started playing club soccer.

When you first played soccer, who helped you the most?

When I first started playing, my mom was my coach, and then as I got older, I was more into the coaches that basically taught me, and my sister helped me a little bit along the way. But it was always a little rivalry between us. We always played one on one in the backyard, but as I got older I got a little bit more into the game, and my college coach was really the one that really paved the way for me to make the national team, my first trainer.

How many championships have you won?

I won the World Cup in 1999, and then we won the Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008. And then I also won the WPS, which is the Women's Professional Soccer team. I won the championship for Sky Blue as a player-coach. I coached the team at the end as well as played, and I was two months pregnant.

Do you have any inspirations?

Absolutely. I think first and foremost, like my family definitely inspired me to play. A lot of people along the way that I've met. I have had so many great supporters and coaches. And coaches that didn't even coach sport soccer, but baseball coaches, my field hockey coach. I was into playing all different sports. But I think the enjoyment of never settling for one sport and playing all sports has really inspired me, and I didn't choose the sport of soccer until I was in college.

How long do you practice soccer?

I train about two hours a day. Sometimes with the team we do what's called double days. So we train twice a day for 90 minutes. I'm on the fields, but I'm also in the weight room. So we do at least two sessions a week in lifting, and I also work on my speed and agility with some plyometrics and some court training. Overall, at least two hours a day with one day off a week.

How did you feel when you won the gold medal?

It's an amazing feeling when you stand on top of the podium representing your country and wearing a gold medal. It's hard to describe. Every little memory that's gotten you to that point kind of flashes forward, and all you can do is smile and [shed] happy tears . . . and run around the field holding that American flag at the end. You see photos, and you can't really believe you're doing that because you're kind of in your own little world. It's just an unbelievable experience.

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