Leslie Osborne mixing it up with Carly Lloyd during pre-game warmups.
The Boston Breakers’ Leslie Osborne’s off-season started a little early this year due to a broken collarbone suffered in a match against Sky Blue FC on August 15. In spite of the break from soccer, Osborne has been busy with appearances for PUMA, a foray into sports commentating and training for her first marathon.
She carved out some time from her busy schedule to answer some questions about her free time, her status with the United States Women’s National Team, as well as the recent news coming out of WPS.
It seems that you have been busy this off-season jetting back and forth between coasts. What have you been up to?
It seems to me that whenever I get injured I get way busier because I’m able to do a lot more different things than just play soccer. I was doing appearances and I’ve been doing some commentating and all that stuff’s been out in California so I’ve been going back and forth a lot. I just got back to Boston last week and I hope to stay out here for at least a couple more weeks before I go back out to California for Thanksgiving. I’m trying to settle down a little bit.
How has the move to Boston been for you city-wise and team-wise?
I really, really like Boston. I thought it would be good for me to settle down and live somewhere year round. I have a lot of great opportunities out here doing multiple things so it is good for me just career-wise and life-wise to stay out here. I’m adjusting to the cold weather. The last two weeks have been a little bit difficult for me. I grew up in Wisconsin and was tough for a long time, but I’ve been in California for a long time. I’m getting back in the swing of things and training and it being cold. Other than that I love to go back to California to see my family and friends when I want. That’s nice to have. I love it out here. The city is awesome. I’m having a really good time.
How was the transition from FC Gold Pride to the Boston Breakers?
The Breakers are awesome. Talk about a smooth transition. I had a great time last year at FC Gold Pride and I can’t even tell you how impressed I am with the organization here; the owners, Tony (DiCicco), my teammates, the staff, everyone. I’m very entrenched in the Breakers’ organization and I do a lot of stuff with them and for them because they’re great. I feel like part of a family out here and they use me a lot. It’s a really great organization to be a part of and I hope that the WPS can continue and that I’m lucky enough to be a Breaker for another two years. I’m fortunate.
Was it an added bonus that your longtime friend and teammate, Lindsay Tarpley, also landed in Boston after the St. Louis Athletica folded?
Talk about literally a dream come true! We’ve gotten to play at every level together except for pro and college. We can’t ever take that college experience back, but to play on the same pro team together, to live five minutes from each other, to spend everyday together. I told Tony when he was looking at her, I said, ‘Listen, she’s my best friend in the whole world, but this girl you want on your team. She’s not only a great soccer player, but she’s also one of the best people you’ll ever meet. A leader, just someone you want on your team.’ Let’s just say it was kind of unreal. If she comes back to the Breakers, if the league is okay and she comes back to the Breakers it is literally one of those things that everyday it’s amazing. We didn’t think it was ever going to happen. We thought I’d spend my career in California and she’d spend her’s in Chicago. It’s just funny how our paths always lead us back together.
You touched on whether the WPS will continue. Are the players hearing any news other than what we’ve heard about two teams potentially folding?
We just need a full commitment from all the teams that are still involved. We go on with the teams that we have. We have to have six strong solid teams. It’s great to bring teams in, but we can’t afford to keep losing teams. We need to have a base of at least six teams and make sure that those six teams are financially strong enough to be part of a league. That’s what we need to focus on as the WPS. There will be more information coming out. I’m surprised and I’m bummed, let’s just put it that way.
What is your status with the National Team?
I had heard that I would be called into camp in September and then I broke my collarbone, so obviously I couldn’t go. I talked to Pia (Sundhage) last month. She said she thought I had a very good season. I could get called into the camp in December, but there are no guarantees.
I think one of the biggest issues for me is that right now the team is not playing with a holding midfielder and that is my role with the Boston Breakers. I only want to help the team, but I’m probably not going to be able to help them playing in an attacking position.
I would love to play in a World Cup, but I’ve been so far out of that team for the last ten months. I love playing soccer. If I get called in, I get called in and I’ll be ready. For me, I’ve always been fit and dedicated. If I get an opportunity I hope to be ready and make the most out of it.
You’re six days away from running the New York Marathon. Are you ready?
I think I’m ready. This is my first marathon. I’ve tried to listen to as many people’s advice as I can, but I’m coming from a total different situation than other people because I’ve only been able to train for five weeks. I just started running five and a half weeks ago.
Because I had a broken collarbone. I don’t think people understand it because I don’t talk about it. People train for these things for four to six months, but I’ve just had to crank up my mileage. I haven’t been able to taper or train for a long time. I just started running and built my way up from seven miles. I stayed really fit by walking the Harvard bleachers for a month after I broke my collarbone and killing myself doing those. It saved me because the day that I started to run, I felt awesome. I think my training has been pretty easy because I stayed in such good shape, but I have no idea what I am doing! I ran 18 miles last weekend. I’m trying to go day by day and plan my own thing, but I don’t really know what I’m doing. I think I’m ready, but I have no idea to be honest.
Do you have a goal?
I want to complete this race. I’m doing it for a charity and it’s way bigger than me. It is hard because I am competitive with myself and with other people so if I finish this thing in under four and a half, I would be very happy with myself. Crossing the line is the most important thing for me.
Tell me about the charity you are running for.
It is Grassroots Soccer. I’ve been an ambassador for the charity for two years. I met Ethan Zohn three years ago. He’s amazing. He donated his money from Survivor to this charity. It is to help kids in Africa who are HIV positive and those who aren’t HIV positive to live a healthy lifestyle. It uses soccer to provide education. Ethan has battled through cancer just this year and he’s running this marathon. I’m hoping to go to Africa in December and help out. That’s the only reason I’m doing this.
What else are you doing besides training for a marathon during the off-season?
I’ve been doing some commentating. I did the WPS final and I did my first MLS game, the Galaxy game, two weeks ago. I’m interested in doing that. I’m coaching out here at a private, independent school that has been pretty interesting because I haven’t ever coached at a private school before. It’s more intense than my college team was. I’m doing private training. I’m doing a lot of random things and trying to figure out in what path I am going to go. Once I can touch a ball in two weeks I am going to be very excited and I’m going to train and play some more soccer.
Are you doing much with PUMA these days?
One of the great things about me being here in Boston is I’m very involved with them. I actually do marketing for them and I’m kind of a spokesperson, which is why I’m always doing these appearances on their behalf. I try to represent the brand and they keep me busy out here.
Are you disappointed with the support that the WPS has gotten from soccer fans and players?
We need the support of people who love the game of soccer. That would be amazing for the WPS. It’s hard for me to accept that a lot of the kids I meet here in Boston have never even heard of the Boston Breakers. If we would have had a professional team when I was growing up in Wisconsin, I would have been going every weekend with my family.
I’m a big fan of taking it out into the communities. We’re not just soccer players, we’re role models. I love fashion. I love to travel. How can we take these girls and show them different sides to us?
We have a responsibility and an obligation to do a lot more than what we are doing. I still think that instead of just going home from training there is so much more that we as players could do to help this league and help our team out by getting more involved in the community. Maybe I’m just a different kind of person and I’m not satisfied with just being a soccer player, but we could do so much more. If me and every player on my team had an obligation to sell 25 tickets to every soccer match, what could do that do? How many more families and business would I be meeting and bringing in? I just think there needs to be a lot more passion and responsibility from the players.
* You can support Grassroots Soccer and Leslie in her effort to tame the NY Marathon by making a contribution here.
Leslie Osborne out on the youth soccer field converting one fan at a time.