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OL Reign coach shares emotional tribute to retiring star Megan Rapinoe

Sep 9, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey and forward Megan Rapinoe (15) after the game against the Chicago Red Stars at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey knows the impact Megan Rapinoe has had, on her and likely on thousands of others throughout her storied career.

Speaking ahead of Rapinoe’s final regular-season home game with OL Reign, Harvey spoke about how Rapinoe’s bravery and dedication to being herself inspired her as a young coach.

Both Rapinoe and Harvey came to the Seattle club in 2013 for the NWSL’s inaugural season, the former as a star player and the latter as a 32-year-old head coach. While Harvey left the Reign for several seasons before returning, the duo have worked together for the better part of the last decade.

“Off the field stuff has been, it’s just hard to put into words how impactful it’s been,” Harvey said. “From early days with the Reign when we had nothing, we were always trying to fight for more. And I think we always knew that the most powerful voice in the room was Pinoe.

“And she never shied away from that. She was always willing to put herself in front of all the bullets that everyone was willing to throw at her to try and better the club internally. … And then obviously externally, what everyone sees, that became the global icon that she is. … It’s phenomenal to think where we started to where we are now in every aspect, and there’s no doubt we wouldn’t be here if not for her.”

Rapinoe is retiring at the end of the NWSL season. Everything Harvey, 43, has learned from the 38-year-old forward throughout her career was “too much to even go through” in a single press conference, she said Thursday, but there’s “a lot.”

“I was a young coach when I came (to the NWSL), I was 32, and I’d never lived authentically, really,” Harvey said, voice thick with emotion. “And I think being around someone – she gives you the platform to think that you can be whatever you want.”

Rapinoe also grew emotional when talking about spending her entire NWSL career with the Reign and growing up with the franchise.

“Going through everything I’ve gone through in my career, to have the safety and home that I’ve had here has been huge for me,” she said. “I can’t imagine pulling on a shirt of any of those other clubs.”

The Reign have two matches remaining in the regular season, starting with Rapinoe’s final home match at 8 p.m. ET Friday against the Washington Spirit. The contest, which is expected to bring more than 30,000 fans to Seattle’s Lumen Field, will be televised CBS.

Harvey wants to send Rapinoe off into the sunset with an NWSL championship, but to do so, the Reign need to reach the postseason. A win against the Spirit would help the team cement its playoff chances in a tight race.