When Leslie Osborne announced she was joining the Chicago Red Stars (pending league approval) a couple weeks ago, Twitter was abuzz with Red Stars fans welcoming her to the team and Boston Breakers fans sad that she was leaving. Osborne has made a name for herself wherever she’s played and she’s ready for the next chapter in her professional career, playing for the Red Stars in the NWSL.
We got a chance to catch up with Osborne during her busy off-season for a little Q&A session, so without further ado let’s get to know Leslie Osborne.
What role do you see the NWSL playing in the growth of women’s soccer here in the United States, and more importantly, globally?
I believe the NWSL has the potential to be a great success. Success in my eyes is having a league with stability, consistency and longevity. I think the NWSL can help develop women’s soccer and continue to grow the game on the women’s side. Without a stable league, it makes everything more difficult for the developmental system that’s in place. We need to continue to be the #1 team in the world and really focus on the youth systems, structure and future of the league. After an incredible two years for the USWNT, this is the best time to start a league with all the attention, support and focus on women’s soccer.
What advice do you have to young girls who are dreaming about playing soccer, either collegiately or professionally?
A few things: do what you love and love what you do. If you don’t like or love soccer, you’re probably not going to be happy and that will affect your success. I think HARD WORK is the most important thing- I was given great advice when I was younger and it was it’s not what you do when people are watching; it’s what you do when no one is watching. The thought of someone working harder than me really motivated me to become better and continue to grow. I still follow this today. Stay focused and create short term and long term goals.
You were an assistant coach at Santa Clara for several years, is teaching soccer an avenue you plan on going into after your playing career?
I think so. I love to coach but I’m pursuing TV and some other business ventures now. I enjoyed being an assistant coach under my mentor Jerry Smith and former coach. I have been a coach at one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country and it was a great experience. I would love to have my own college program or get involved in USYNT program.
You are now a proud member of the Chicago Red Stars. What drew you to the Red Stars and how do you see the team shaping up this season?
I am very happy to announce I am a Chicago Red Star. I have known for three weeks but had to be patient waiting for US soccer and contract process. It was a tough decision to leave the Boston Breakers. I spent three years as the captain and was very honored to be part of a top class organization, fans and city.
I am ready to take the next step in my career and personal life, so moving to Chicago was the best fit. I will be around my family, friends and my coach Rory, who coached me in club when I was younger. I haven’t been back in the Midwest since I left for college in 2001, so I’m ready to get back and settle.
Team is shaping up very nicely. As you know, we will have a very STRONG center midfield. I have played with Shannon Boxx on the USWNT for years and who is a mentor for me as well. Keelin Winters and I played together in Boston (2011) so I’m familiar with both center mids. We have some great Canadian players in Carmelina Moscato and Erin McLeod. We will be very strong down the center of the field. Can’t wait for Chicago to announce our other three free agents :)
We also got the first pick in the draft and Z (Zakiya Bywaters) is fast, loves to take people on and she will make an immediate impact.
What can NWSL fans expect when you step on the field this season?
Well I think they can expect two different things. On the field, I am a very vocal, physical, possession orientated player who likes to cover a lot of ground and really likes to tackle and head :) Off the field, I am pretty involved with the game, fans, social media and a lot of other activities. I try to do as much as I can to help continue to grow the game and do whatever I can to help make any impact I can.
And a few random questions if you have time … if a fan wanted to get your autograph after one of your matches, what is the best approach they could take?
Just ask me :) I am usually one of the last ones on the field with fans.
If you could play a pick-up soccer match anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
I played pick up in the streets of London during the Olympics with French kids and it was pretty amazing. I also got the opportunity to play pick up in Italy and Brazil which was pretty amazing.
Do you have any suggestions for things to do if someone was visiting Wisconsin for the first time?
Go to see the Packers play :) Maybe visit some of our great cheese factories, Harley Davidson headquarters or head down to Water Street which is a pretty cool spot :)
Do you have any pre-match rituals?
Nothing crazy. I like to eat the same kind of meal and shower. I usually continue to do whatever I normally do on any other day. I try to not think about soccer at all :) Its taken me a few years to get it down :)
A big THANK YOU goes out to Leslie Osborne for taking time out of her busy schedule for this Q&A session. Fans, you can follow all of the Chicago Red Stars action on Twitter @ChicagoRedStars or follow Leslie personally at @LeslieOsborne12. Make sure to show your support.