Megan Rapinoe’s in a pretty good place right now.
Had you checked in with her four years ago though, it would’ve been a different story.
In 2008, The US women’s soccer midfielder had to watch her teammates earn Olympic gold in Beijing without her after tearing her Anterior cruciate ligament for the second time. But Rapinoe’s back in action and ready to hit the field with her team on July 25 when the US women open the Olympic tournament against France.
And she’s not just athletically inclined. Rapinoe’s one of those multi-talented role model types to boot. But more on that in a minute.
Rapinoe, or “Pinoe” as she’s known by her fans, grew up in Redding, California with five siblings, including her twin, Rachael. Both girls attended the University of Portland, Oregon and helped lead the Portland Pilots to an undefeated season and the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship in 2005.
In 2006, Rapinoe suffered her first season-ending ACL injury after scoring 10 goals and 2 assists in 11 matches, and the following year, she suffered a second.
“I may have rushed back a little bit faster than I should have after the first ACL,” she told USA Today. “Not to say that was the reason that it happened again, but the second one humbled me a bit in a lot of ways. I took my time and really allowed my body to heal and be as strong as possible.”
And it’s a good thing she did. Back on the field and better than ever, Rapinoe famously sent the precise cross to Abby Wambach that tied the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinals against Brazil in the 122nd minute of the game. And now Rapinoe’s finally on her way to vie for Olympic gold alongside her teammates in London.
But fans love Pinoe for her spunk and sass off the field too. Let’s start with her hair. It has it’s own Facebook fan page. Seriously. And Nike was so inspired by her spiky blonde locks, they produced a t-shirt commemorating them. And the US Soccer website conducted an interview with Rapinoe’s hair, in which the signature mop told the site it admired David Beckham’s hair: “We often trade hair secrets via BBM. David’s Hair has been setting trends for a long time, and I can only hope to have his Hair’s staying power and versatility.”
Okay, so she’s got a great sense of humor. But besides that, Rapinoe’s mega talented musically as well. Thanks to her “evil mother,” she was forced to pick up an instrument early on. Rapinoe fell in love with the guitar and now travels with a Baby Taylor (and admits that her mom’s not all that bad for inspiring such a life-long passion). It’s definitely worth checking out Rapinoe’s heartbreakingly beautiful rendition of Missy Higgins’ “Don’t Ever” featured on the NBC Olympics site.
But besides her skills and style, Rapinoe’s been making headlines recently for a very personal decision to publicly come out. “For the record: I am gay,” she told Out earlier this month.
“I feel like sports in general are still homophobic, in the sense that not a lot of people are out,” she told the magazine. “I feel everyone is really craving [for] people to come out. People want — they need — to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol’ U.S. of A.”
Rapinoe never intended to hide her sexuality from fans but said no one had ever asked her about it directly. In fact, she’s been dating her girlfriend, an Australian soccer player, for three years, and brought her home to Redding for a family Christmas celebration last year. Twin sister Rachael whole-heartedly supports her decision, saying, “I think it’s incredibly brave to use this talent and platform that she’s been blessed with in a positive way, not just on the field, but providing an example of how to treat people off the field as well.”
Rapinoe’s definitely one to watch on and off the field this summer and beyond. And keep an eye on her hair too.