(NEW YORK) — Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris have been relishing their new roles as moms.
The dynamic duo undoubtedly learned a lot in their soccer careers, having reached the pinnacle already, winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup twice with the U.S. women’s national team in 2015 and 2019. But there’s always room to grow, and motherhood has notably taught them even more lessons both on and off the pitch.
Krieger and Harris, who married in December 2019, adopted their first child, a daughter named Sloane Phillips, last February.
“Our journey to becoming new moms and parents started when COVID hit. The Olympics were postponed and it really stripped away a lot of layers for Ali and I,” Harris told ABC News’ Good Morning America, saying that it was a “no-brainer” decision for them to become parents.
The couple signed up with an adoption agency, and, to their surprise, were matched with a baby girl within weeks.
“We ended up matching in about three weeks, so our life changed very quickly and very unexpectedly,” Harris recalled. “(The) adoption process is probably one of the most stressful experiences and tack COVID and isolation on, that was a really hard time for us but now having her and being able to say that she’s ours has been the greatest gift and we just are so lucky.”
Krieger and Harris say adopting Sloane opened their eyes to the nutritional needs of expectant mothers. They’re now paid spokespeople for Vitamin Angels, a charity working to provide essential vitamins to underserved moms and kids who are at risk of malnutrition around the world.
“It just really hit home for Ali and I, who adopted a baby who didn’t have access to those things, who was born very small and underweight, who didn’t have good nutrition,” Harris said. “Now, we are trying to reverse the clock to set her up for a successful life.”
To hear Krieger and Harris talk about motherhood, it has enriched their lives immensely, and not just their personal ones.
“I think something that’s translated from motherhood to the soccer field for us, I can probably say for me, patience and a little bit more strength,” Krieger said.
She and Harris signed with Gotham FC in December and are gearing up for their first game with the New Jersey and New York club on March 19.
“I think just having that patience and finding that joy for the game surprised me the most because I’m so happy at home, not only with Ash, my wife, but also just as a family with Sloane,” Krieger said.
Harris says welcoming Sloane into their life has helped ground her and put things into perspective.
“When I walk through the door, Sloane doesn’t care if I won a world championship, she just wants her mom,” Harris said. “I feel like that’s really taken a lot of pressure off for me and my job and I enjoy it a lot more because when I walk home, I’m not thinking about a bad performance or that goal I should have saved or if we won or lost, I’m just thinking about being the best version of myself, to be a good mom when I come home.”
Harris and Krieger are determined to support Sloane no matter what life throws at them.
“I don’t think we want to ever tell her what to do or how to do anything but we just want to set her up for success by just giving her tools that we’ve learned through our experiences and ultimately support and love her unconditionally,” Krieger said.
It’s also not just Sloane who they want to lift up. Krieger and Harris are also doing their part to support the next generation of young girls and soccer stars, continuing to advocate for more equity in the sport.
Krieger said last month’s settlement between the U.S. women’s national team and the U.S. Soccer Federation was a step in the right direction.
“We’re going to continue to fight for more but I do think it was a win and I think it’s great that even if we don’t see the benefits of that, our youth will be able to dream big and be able to profit from their hard work as well,” she said. “This also is a win, like Megan Rapinoe had said, for all women, not just in our country but around the world and all women in all industries.”
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