U.S. women’s national team players have become iconic figures in recent years, with their faces splashed across social media, TV commercials, magazine covers and more. They are characters in the ongoing story of the nation’s relationship with soccer, equal rights and more.
So it is fitting that many of the players are drawn to compelling narratives off the field. The USWNT team is full of readers, with interests spanning an array of book genres: science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, memoirs and more.
Take Sophia Smith, who is keen on reading romance novels and is one of many players on her NWSL club to dive into the popular Sarah J. Maas fantasy series “A Court of Thorns and Roses.” She has helped inspire many of her teammates’ own reading routines.
“It’s something for us all to connect over outside of the sport and have fun little conversations off the field,” Smith told the Washington Post’s Ella Brockway. “When you’re in a stressful, high-intensity environment, it’s nice to have something a little more chill and relaxing to go back to and a group of people to be interested in doing the same thing.”
Smith, Crystal Dunn and captain Becky Sauerbrunn – who is out of the World Cup with a foot injury – are all teammates on the Portland Thorns, a team full of “voracious readers,” as Sauerbrunn told Just Women’s Sports.
“It makes me so proud whenever I see someone walking with a book in their hand,” Sauerbrunn said. “We recommend a lot to each other, but we all read at different rates.”
@justwomenssports The @Portland Thorns are in their reading era 📖 #booktok #nwsl #beckysauerbrunn #woso ♬ original sound - Just Women’s Sports
Some USWNT players are even published authors: Alex Morgan (“The Kicks,” a children’s book series), Megan Rapinoe (“One Life,” a memoir) and Trinity Rodman (“Wake up and Kick It,” a children’s book in partnership with Adidas).
Reading provides a way for the players to decompress from the high pressure of national-level soccer – and, for a few moments at least, step out of the spotlight of their own stories.
“When you’re out of practice and you’re out of meetings, the last thing you want to do is talk about soccer,” Ashley Sanchez said. She and Trinity Rodman both are fans of romance author Colleen Hoover, and sharing paperbacks with Smith helped inspire their passion.
“It is nice to be able to have something in common,” Sanchez continued. “Sometimes it’s, like, eight of us reading the same book at the same time.”