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11 Questions with Lindsay Tarpley

Lindsay Tarpley is a veteran. Huh? Wasn’t it just yesterday that the 18-year-old was scoring in sudden death overtime against Canada to give the USA the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship? While it may seem like that, her momentous goal was five years ago. Now 23 and with 58 full international caps to her credit, the U.S. forward is one of the most experienced players with the U.S. at the Four Nations Tournament. The Kalamazoo, Michigan, product took time out from the USA’s preparations for the trip to China to talk to about her emerging role on the team, her upcoming wedding and why she doesn’t do jelly beans anymore. You scored your first career goals at the Four Nations Tournament in 2004. What advice would you have for a young player getting one of her first opportunities at the tournament this year?
Lindsay Tarpley: “I think the biggest thing is having confidence. Coming into this environment can be intimidating and many times players forget what they are good at. I think it’s important to make sure to play to your strengths while at the same time always continuing to work on your weaknesses. I think it’s also important to learn from the veteran players. When I was younger, I would always ask questions, or just watch the older players, and try to figure out what made them successful. Now, looking at myself, I have definitely taken some of those things that I learned and applied it to my experiences.” What are some of your memories of the Four Nations in 2004?
Tarp: “On the field, I just remember the games being really, really fast. It was also a great environment because they had a lot of fans who were really loud, and they definitely were not cheering for us. We won and those were great results to build on during the road to the Olympics. Off the field, I just remember it was a tough environment. It was cold, the food is different and the culture is very different from ours. But traveling to China is a great experience for a soccer player as it makes you tougher in many different ways.” You played forward for most of the year last year after previously playing in the midfield for your entire senior WNT career. With a year under your belt, what are your thoughts on the position change?
Tarp: “I’m excited. I feel very comfortable up top and I’m having a great time being more attacking-minded. At the same time, I still want to work in the midfield and continue to improve my game there as well. One of the great things about playing forward is that I can drop back into midfield and play-make from there as well. That’s a role I really like to play.” You were the captain of the U-19 world champions in 2002 so you experienced that role. For what seems like forever, you’ve been one of the younger players on the full team. As crazy as it sounds, you are now one of the most experienced players in camp. Do you feel your leadership role changing or growing at all?
Tarp: “I learned so much from the veteran players and now I’m in a position to give some of that back to the younger players in camp. I’ve been talking to some of the younger players, and we’ve had some great conversations. The older players did that for me the past couple of years, and hopefully I can help these girls get a bit more comfortable, which hopefully will help their performances. We’re all in this together and it’s important to help each other.” You are getting married in a little less than a year? Can you give us any sneak peaks at the wedding plans?
Tarp: “Honestly, you’d have to ask my fiancé about that. We have all of the major things done, but he’s taking on the major organizational duties. I’m really trying to enjoy the process, but I have to admit that BJ deserves most of the credit right now. I can tell you that it’s going to be in downtown Kalamazoo. Yes, Kalamazoo does have a downtown. I’m really starting to get excited about it because now I can’t say I’m getting married next December. It’s this December!” You predicted early in the college season that your alma mater UNC would win the NCAA title. What did you see in that young team that made you think they would get it done?
Tarp: “They had so many different weapons. They had great leadership and talent in the upperclassmen, like Heather O’Reilly, Robyn Gayle and Jess Maxwell, and they had a lot of talented youngsters who had energy, motivation and determination. They were just really fun to watch and they went after teams the way teams at UNC in the past have always done.” You are rumored to like jelly beans? What is your favorite flavor? Or combination of flavors?
Tarp: “Sassy sours are my favorite. I used to eat them all the time, but I got my first cavity and I blamed it on the sassy sours, so now I’ve tried not to eat too much sugar. It really hasn’t worked. I just switched from jelly beans to cookies or something. I’m convinced that my body needs sugar. I have a huge sweet tooth.” In the first match of the Four Nations, the USA will play Germany, the world’s top-ranked team and defending Women’s World Cup champion. How do you see that match?
Tarp: “I think it’s a great opportunity for our team. Obviously, we’ll miss Lil, Abby, Christie and Aly, but it’s a great chance for the young players to step up. Germany is a team that plays their style extremely well. They string passes together well, they are strong and physical and the transition from defense to offense very quickly. It will be exciting for both teams.” You finished up your coursework at UNC last month and you are now a college graduate with a B.A. in Communications and a minor in Exercise Sports Science. With one youth world championship, one Olympic Games and two Residency Training Camps during your college years, how did you do it?
Tarp: “I have no idea. I’m not gonna lie, it was tough, but it’s always been one of my major goals so I figured out a way to do it. I was fortunate that Carolina offered online classes so I could pursue my soccer career and continue to stay in school. Now that I’m done, it feels great, but I know I am going to miss it. How crazy is that? I’ve always enjoyed learning and I will definitely miss Chapel Hill.” Now that you don’t have any more homework, what are you doing with your time previously occupied by studying?
Tarp: “Truthfully, I’m a little lost. I brought like four or five books this camp. I’m also really getting into the Sudoko puzzles. Of course, there is the wedding planning and lots of training. All of that will keep me pretty busy.” It’s a well-known fact that you love ice cream. What is your current favorite flavor?
Tarp: “Coldstone recently came out with this oatmeal cookie batter. It was really good when I put graham cracker and chocolate chips, and a little whipped cream too. It was like I was eating oatmeal chocolate chip batter right out of the bowl. I told you I had a huge sweet tooth!”