The 2015 soccer Women’s World Cup begins on Saturday, June 6 in Canada. The United States team is one of a handful of favorites to win the tournament and they’ve got a great story. Despite decades of excellent play, the team has not won a World Cup championship since 1999. That’s a whole generation of dreams denied and all the reason anyone should need to root for the team this year. To help prepare you to root for team and country, we’re going to run a short profile of every player on the 23-person roster. When female athletes take their turn in the spotlight, they often receive coverage that is slanted toward non-game aspects of their stories — marriage, children, sexual preference, perceived lack-of or bountiful sexiness, social media activity, etc. In the hope of balancing things out, just a tiny bit, these previews will strive to stay on the field, with only a little bit of non-gendered personal interest when possible.
National team experience: 6 appearances, this will be her first World Cup, and she has two international shutouts.
What to expect from Ashlyn Harris: Harris is everything you’d expect from a world class goalie. She’s aggressive, fearless, determined, and a little bit obsessed. At 5’9″ she’s got the physical ability and presence to command the area around the net. Harris would be the starting goalie for virtually every other country in the world but unfortunately for her, she’s stuck behind goalkeeping legend, Hope Solo. When Solo was suspended this winter, Harris got her chance to start and played well, cementing her position as the second goalie on the team. If Solo gets injured, Harris’ experience will come in handy. Get it, handy?
Video: Here’s an almost ten minute package of Harris highlights. Within the first 30 seconds, she saves a penalty kick and then shows her focus, determination, and athleticism by recovering and springing again to knock the rebound out of danger.
Non-gendered personal interest item: Harris has a story that’s more common (or at least more talked about) in male/non-soccer professional sports. She comes from a small, mostly poor town in Florida. Her family has a history of addiction. Harris was a wild child who struggled in school (and in fact, was almost ineligible to graduate from high school because of her attendance record.) Harris is up front about soccer having provided her a “way out” to see the world, finish college, and support organizations that she believes in like the depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide focused non-profit, To Write Love on Her Arms.