The Just Women’s Sports podcast with Kelley O’Hara is back.
On this week’s episode, O’Hara is joined by USWNT teammate Sam Mewis to discuss how she went from growing up playing backyard soccer to being named the No. 1 women’s player in the world. The two also discuss Mewis’ relationship with older sister and USWNT teammate, Kristie Mewis.
Mewis’ earliest soccer memories involve playing with Kristie in the backyard. Each had separate sides of the yard that they would play on, but the competition was fierce, something that helped to develop Mewis’ career as she tried to one-up her older sister.
“My earliest memories are trying to be as good as her,” Mewis says. “[It] made us both competitive right away.”
They became aware of the USWNT from seeing the exposure surrounding the 1999 World Cup and soon after knew that soccer was the path they wanted to take.
“I knew who those women were right away,” Mewis says. “I felt like that was the biggest representation that I saw, so that was what I gravitated towards. I felt like I could do it, and I think so did Kristie, so we kind of played off each other in that way… We both knew that that was the plan and the goal so I think once we really were exposed to that we really stuck with it.”
As a kid, Mewis was always following in her older sister’s footsteps.
“In some ways it must have been so annoying for her,” Mewis says. When asked if her and Kristie were friends as teenagers, Sam doesn’t mince words.
“Oh, God no,” she tells Kelley.
“Growing up it was terrible,” Mewis adds. “We would fight… My mom would be sad. She would say, like, ‘I want you guys to be friends. I don’t understand what we’re doing wrong.'”
“We were [just] different, and I must have been so annoying to have buzzing around all the time trying to be friends with Kristie’s friends and trying to play on all her teams and all of this stuff.”
During that time, the Mewis sisters also made history as the first sisters to play on a youth world cup team, competing on the United States’ U-17 team that was runner-up at the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand. But their paths soon diverged. While Kristie dominated at Boston College, Sam went to UCLA in order to avoid following her sister.
Over the past year, however, their USWNT careers have once more intertwined.
As the elder Mewis has made her way back from an ACL injury and onto the national team, Sam has been named the No. 1 soccer player in the world by ESPN. They’ve both outgrown their younger sibling rivalry off the pitch, while teaming up for the USWNT on it. Against Colombia this year, Sam bagged a hat trick, while Kristie was the only other player to score in the game.
Both are now competing for a spot on the 18-player Olympic Team roster, which must be announced by FIFA’s June 30 deadline.
Their feuding days long behind them, the two are now the best of friends.
“We get along so well now because our core values are the same, but our personalities counter each other,” Mewis says. “I’m so grateful we get along now. We’re best friends. But growing up, it was a nightmare [because] we were not very close.”