Still running on adrenaline after sharing the World Cup title with the U.S. Women’s National Team, hometown hero Christen Press shows no sign of slowing down.
- Written byAmber Klinck
Coming from her third day as a host for FOX Sports’ digital series @TheBuzzer, U.S. Women’s National Team forward and World Cup champion Christen Press shares some of what she loves about her new gig. “I think I was the most excited about putting on normal clothes, being a girl and walking into an office. I never thought I’d like broadcasting—and actually I’m little bit awkward in front of the camera, but I get to hear about what’s going on in sports all around the world and I love it.”
Of course with her contagious smile and vibrant personality, Christen is about as far from awkward as you could get. The 26-year-old Palos Verdes native exudes confidence and enthusiasm, even while maintaining a demanding schedule and rigorous training regimen. Spending a mere 75 days a year in Los Angeles, Christen is used to making herself at home on the road. “Next week I’ll be in Seattle for three days, then Orlando, D.C., New York, back home and then to Philly,” she says.
It’s enough to make your head spin. For Christen, however, this is business as usual. “Typically November would be our off time, but because this is a back-to-back World Cup/Olympic year, we don’t have off time,” she explains. “It’s a little stressful, but it’s also super fun.”
When she’s traveling, Christen trains in a team environment, but when she’s home, she takes the opportunity to blend in a few of her own favorite activities. “The national training center for U.S. soccer is at the StubHub Center in Carson,” she notes. “In the morning I get up, run the dogs (two adorable rescue mutts), go straight to training, maybe spend an hour and a half on the field, and then head to the gym.”
She adheres to this schedule five days a week, but even on her off days she’s always in motion. “On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll just run to yoga. I’m always active; being static makes me tired,” she says. “I get energy from moving.”
This energy has been a driving force in Christen since she began playing soccer as a child. “I don’t remember being 6 years old and thinking, ‘I’m going to play for the Women’s National Team.’ I was 6 years old thinking, ‘I want to be the best player on the field.’”
Following a set of smaller goals kept Christen concentrated on what was in front of her. “I didn’t think they were small goals at the time, but they kept me focused on what I was doing.”
During her adolescence, Christen participated in other sports as well. “I ran track, I played tennis, I played softball, and I was equally good at all of them,” she says. But as she got older and her competitive nature matured, she began dropping the other sports.
“It came down to tennis and soccer. I love them both, but in the end it’s about being on a team,
working with other people and having friends to go through these experiences with you,” Christen explains. “I don’t know if I thought this at the time, but now when I play tennis, it seems like the loneliest sport in the world. In soccer, I’m talking to my teammates, I’m yelling, I’m complaining. In tennis, it’s just you and your coach against the world. It’s so different.”
While in high school at Chadwick School, the Dolphins team captain set her sights on college ball. “I thought, ‘I want to play for the best team. I want to win a national championship … and then I want to be a professional.’”
Her move to Stanford, however, didn’t go as smoothly as she’d envisioned. “I think I had late growing pains. I was so attached to my home, my friends and my life at Chadwick that I transitioned really poorly into Stanford. I was so stressed, and that’s when I started looking at the national team and thinking, ‘Why am I not on the team? What am I doing wrong?’ I was super excited about the idea, but I didn’t know what it took to get there.”
National team or not, Christen killed it in college—breaking record after record. During her four years she scored 71 goals, making her Stanford’s all-time leading scorer. She was the recipient of the 2010 Herman Trophy Award.
It wouldn’t be until after college, while playing for Sweden’s Damallsvenskan league in 2012, that Christen would get her call to the U.S. National Team. Today she is part-time with the team and part-time in Chicago playing her second season with the Chicago Red Stars.
When she’s there, she “lives downtown in the city,” but it still doesn’t feel quite like home. “Nope, not even close,” she says. “I live in Chicago, that’s where I play, but will always be home.”
During those precious 75 days a year that Christen is back in LA, she can be found catching up with old friends or at her parents’ house in Palos Verdes. “I love it there; it’s so beautiful. Every time I get to stay with my parents, it’s like I’m on vacation—it doesn’t feel like real life.”
It’s clear to see how much Christen appreciates the ocean-side community she was raised in. “When I live in a place where I don’t see the beach, it doesn’t feel right,” she says. “I love to be outside.”
Then she laughs and adds, “But I can’t stand cold weather, and I can’t stand hot weather. I can only take it perfectly temperate.” Spoken like a true Southern Cali girl.
With as much as Christen feels at home in Palos Verdes, however, she identifies less with the laid-back South Bay vibe and more with its urban counterpart. “I’m a typical LA girl; I’m a little high-strung with a total type-A personality.”
That’s a trait Christen claims she’s had since she was a kid. “I was a really competitive child, just ask my sisters. They’d say, ‘It wasn’t even fun playing with because we’d have to let her win or she’d be unbearable.’” She half jokingly adds, “But I don’t remember it like that.”
With all three sisters heavily involved in soccer, the entire Press household became active participants. “My parents coached us, they managed us, drove us to practice—we were your typical soccer family with a minivan and orange slices in the cooler,” Christen explains. Everyone was on the move all the time.
Now when Christen is home, she makes it a point to at least try to get in some downtime. “I’m not good at relaxing,” she admits. “But I know it’s good for me.”
She does find, however, that her yoga practice helps. “I do yoga every day, and I love it. People always ask what I do for exercise when I’m not playing soccer. I love to run on the beach, swim and do yoga.”
What’s interesting about Christen, despite all the focus she has to devote to soccer, is that she is not singular in her interests. “I’m a weirdo and not your typical athlete—I love so many things,” Christen explains.
But that’s not to suggest she’s not passionate about her sport. “When you’re this invested, soccer will always be there,” she says. “Even if I’m not playing, no matter what, I’ll be involved in the sport.”
But her end game includes more. “I’m passionate about giving back to children that didn’t have all the opportunities that I had,” she explains. “My parents gave me so much love, and because of that, I’ve always had confidence. There are so many children that don’t have an anchor in their lives to bounce ideas off of or to support them when they fall.”
Christen, who studied psychology while at Stanford, says she’d welcome the chance to work with children. “I’d love to be able to work in a field where I could talk with kids, work with them and try to improve their lives.”
After having achieved so much in such a short amount of time, this driven young woman has every opportunity at her fingertips. With her new adventures in broadcasting, her career as a professional soccer player and the 2016 World Cup ahead, the possibilities are endless.
But for now Christen is focused on what’s in front of her. “I’ll be with the National Team for a 10-game, post-World Cup victory tour.” The South Bay will be watching … and we’re rooting for you, Christen.
Remembering the forced relocation and incarceration of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans between 1942 and 1946