Kelley O'Hara has established herself as one of the world's greatest soccer players. She is a FIFA Women's World Cup champion and an Olympic gold medalist, but O'Hara would not have achieved any of those accolades if she had followed through on a decision she made when she was 13.
"I wanted to quit," O'Hara says. "But then I noticed that all of my friends played soccer, so if I was not at practice, I wouldn't have anyone to hang out with, because they would all be at practice. So I decided to keep playing."
But if she had decided to toss in her cleats for good, O'Hara says her parents would have been supportive.
"They said, 'OK, do whatever you want to do, whatever makes you happy. You're playing soccer because you want to, not because we want you to,'" O'Hara says. "I just wasn't told that soccer was my favorite thing to do and I think I wanted to do other things or didn't want to dedicate as much time as I was to it."
While O'Hara knew early on that she wanted to compete at the highest athletic level, she was not convinced soccer was the sport she would do it in.
"I remember watching the '96 Olympics," O'Hara said. "For some reason, I was like 'Oh yeah, I'm going to go to the Olympics some day.' At that time as a kid, I did not know for what sport or really anything."
Fast-forward 14 years later, and O'Hara is still on the soccer field, but now on a much bigger stage as she prepares with Team USA for the 2016 Olympic games. Coming off a World Cup championship in 2015, the team has a chance to make history.
"No women's soccer team has ever won a World Cup and then turned around the next year and won an Olympic gold medal," O'Hara says. "It would be really exciting to do that."
O'Hara helped the U.S. win gold at the 2012 Olympics in London. Since the 2015 World Cup, the team dynamics have changed quite a bit. Forward Abby Wambach has retired. Sydney Leroux is starting a family with her husband, Dom Dwyer. Though Leroux and Wambach were integral parts to the team, O'Hara says the departures have brought a new challenge to the younger women.
"It is really exciting because we have had people retire and people become pregnant and so we have had a lot of younger girls stepping up to fill these big roles and fill their shoes," O'Hara says. "They are doing a great job, and it is fun to see the team grow and evolve. It has been fun to be a part of."
Though O'Hara is most notably recognized for her what she does on the soccer field, when she is not playing soccer, you can find the Coppertone spokesperson riding some waves.
"Surfing was something I always wanted to do," O'Hara says. "The summer before my senior year of college I would surf every single morning and I got better and loved it. For me, it is nice to get away from the soccer field and have these other things to clear your mind. You don't have to be good at it, you just do it and enjoy it. It is nice to have that balance and I need that balance in my life."
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Follow Megan O'Brien on Twitter @Megan_OBrien21.