Julie Ertz, the US Women's Soccer Champion, talks about her retirement and becoming a mom.
Julie Ertz, the US Women’s Soccer Champion, talks about her retirement and becoming a mom.

Julie Ertz, an Olympian and star player for the U.S. Women’s Soccer team, retired from the sport this year when she turned 30.

Ertz, who is 31 years old and was on the Women’s World Cup teams that won in 2015 and 2019, said she was taking some time to spend with her family, which includes her 1-year-old son Madden.

Eva Pilgrim of GMA3 talked to Ertz about her work and what’s next for her.

GMA3: Let’s start all over again. So why soccer?

JULIE ERTZ: Soccer made me feel like I was becoming who I wanted to be. I was lucky enough to get to go to a great college and play on the youth national team. I thought, “I don’t want to do anything else for the rest of my life” after we won the Under-20 World Cup.

GMA3: A lot of things happened to you while you were playing soccer. You got married and now have a child. In the beginning, your name was not the same as it is now.

ERTZ: I really think I was lucky to have soccer as a hobby because it helped me learn a lot on and off the field and share that with my family. It’s really cool how sports can bring people together, give them a way to express themselves, and make them feel so much. All because of a sport.

Julie Ertz of the United States dribbles the ball in the game against South Africa at TQL Stadium.
Julie Ertz of the United States dribbles the ball in the game against South Africa at TQL Stadium.

GMA3: Thank you for your time. There was a lot of talk about the U.S. women’s team at the 2023 World Cup. Some people didn’t like how you all played. How did that bad review make you feel?

ERTZ: Well, tough. Obviously, this year wasn’t the best for us in any way. I believe this saying is true: hard work will always beat ability. Although we did try our best, we just didn’t put on a show that would have helped us win the game.

We know better than anyone else that you can’t win games if you don’t score goals. So the point of the game is to score more goals, which we didn’t do.

When I think about what I did eight months after giving birth, it wasn’t playing soccer at a top level (GMA3).

ERTZ: I wasn’t sure if I would make it back. I’m not going to lie—I understand how you feel. Someone once said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Going back to work quickly after giving birth must take a team and a lot of help, too.

When I got home, I thought, “I don’t know what just happened.” When I got home, I looked at my husband and thought, “What did I do?”

GMA3: When did you decide you were done working?

ERTZ: It was not long after that. I think it was just getting used to being a mom for the first time and knowing how crazy the year was.

For me, giving up time was probably the biggest one. As soon as I remember I need to drop Madden off and leave, I feel like I don’t want to miss any of his firsts.

Please don’t get me wrong, I love playing, but there’s nothing better than being with my family. I feel like I can’t handle enough of the things I want to do at that moment.

GMA3: When you stopped, you said, “Mama can still play.”

ERTZ: Yes, I said that. That one seems to be a big hit.

Lots of people also told GMA3 that you were playing some of the best soccer they’ve ever seen you play.

ERTZ: Now is the right time for me to be able to choose myself.

Julie Ertz of the United States smiles before the game against South Africa at TQL Stadium
Julie Ertz of the United States smiles before the game against South Africa at TQL Stadium.

When I see my kid’s face, I want to put them to bed every night. I need to wake you up.

Before I leave, I want to say that I thought I played great soccer. I have been doing this for a long time, though.

I also can’t get back some time. I’m going to follow my heart.

GMA3: What are your plans for now?

ERTZ: Being a mother is a clear one. It’s been a lot of fun working with our charity. Also, I’m going to be okay with maybe a little bit of the unknown.

Most of the time, I’d be scared of the unknown, but right now I’m feeling very positive and excited to see what comes next.

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