By Kim DeRaedt
Courtesy of the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act, employed women are granted 12 weeks’ unpaid time off to care for their newborn or adopted child, with the assurance of their same position upon return to work. That’s because giving birth and raising a newborn is up there with the most physically taxing and mentally exhausting tasks out there. When you’re a member of the US Women’s National Team, however, the rules don’t apply. There is no guarantee of a player’s position upon return. Then again, there’s nothing saying these soccer moms even need a significant break. Forget 12 weeks recovery. In 12 weeks, these super women are back fit and on the field at the game’s highest level!
Momma Kate Markgraf (USWNT 1998-present) Children: Keegan (2006), Carson and Xavier (2009)
Feat: Ten weeks after the birth of her son, Markgraf was back on national team roster. Three months after giving birth, she played her first match against Chinese Taipei. Markgraf welcomed twins in 2009, a challenge that scarcely caused her to flinch.
Momma Tina Ellertson (USWNT 2005-present) Children: MacKenzie (2001), Mya (2008)
Feat: Two weeks before collegiate pre-season training, Ellertson’s soccer career came to a grinding halt. She was pregnant! After informing Santa Clara that she would no longer attend, Ellertson stayed close to home at the University of Washington and soon made herself a household name across the nation of women’s soccer. Not only did Ellertson become the first two-time Pac-10 Player of Year, but she did so without a scholarship (initially), while maintaining a 3.5 GPA, and raising her newborn daughter MacKenzie. When Mya was born in 2008, Ellertson hardly missed a beat as an already seasoned member of the national team.
Momma Christie Rampone (USWNT 1997-present) Children: Rylie (2005), Reece (2010)
Feat: A mere 112 days after giving birth to her first daughter, Rampone appeared for the US in the Four Nations Cup in China. That year would also be her busiest for the US squad as she racked up starts in all 20 of the team’s games to become the most capped defender.
Momma Joy Fawcett (USWNT 1987-2004) Children: Katelyn (1994), Carli (1997), Madilyn (2001)
Feat: The original soccer mom who served as the inspiration to the rest, Fawcett had this all planned out. She is the only member in national team history to play every single minute of the 1995, 1999, and 2003 World Cups, coupled with the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. Notice the birth years of her children. What clever timing!
Momma Carla Overbeck (USWNT 1988-2000) Children: Jackson (1997), Carson (2003)
Feat: Overbeck appeared in 168 matches for the national team and didn’t let the birth of her son Jackson slow her down. She captained the 1995 World Cup and 1996 Olympic teams prior to his birth and donned the captain’s armband upon return in the 1999 World Cup and 2000 Olympic Games. At 42, she now contributes to the Duke women’s soccer program as an assistant coach.
Momma Danielle Fotopoulos (USWNT 1995-2006) Children: Lexi (2000), Vasilios (2004), Michael (2008)
Feat: Fotopoulos wasn’t exactly a regular in the national team lineup, but she made her time count with 16 goals in 35 games. In 2005, following the birth of her son, Fotopoulos contributed a quick four goals in five matches.
Momma Kristine Lilly (USWNT 1987-2011) Children: Sidney (2008)
Feat: With 352 national team appearances and 130 goals, nobody male or female can touch the international legacy of Lilly, which spanned 14 years from 1987-2011. Unlike her peers, Lilly did not retire following the “farewell tour” in 2004. Instead she pushed right ahead to 2008 when she welcomed her first daughter into the world and forged ahead even further until only recently announcing her retirement on January 6, 2011. And yes, that implies that she participated in the 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007 World Cups (and every Olympic competition) along the way. Five World Cups?! Untouchable!
Kids and Kicks:
Team momma: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=buckheit/080509
Teen mom Tina overcomes the odds: http://www.ussoccer.com/News/Womens-National-Team/2006/02/Tina-Frimpong-A-Soccer-Mom-Of-A-Different-Kind.aspx