U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team defender Becky Sauerbrunn, a "second year" at the University of Virginia, is one of the team leaders in the back for the USA. She has started all four games thus far at the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship and leads the young Americans into the semifinals against Germany on Wednesday. Appropriately, Sauerbrunn, who wears number 11 and has a small Celtic-themed tattoo of the number in a heart design, took some time out from reading the many books she brings on the road to answer 11 questions for ussoccer.com.
ussoccer.com: You were the first freshman at UVA in more than a decade to earn First-Team All-American honors. Were you surprised that you adjusted so quickly to the college game?
Becky: "At first, it was very hard for me to adjust to the college game. I came onto a team that had a solid back line of third years who were all very experienced and most of them had played for the youth national teams. It was frustrating at first during pre-season to play for the reserve team during practice, but that gave me motivation to work hard to get into the starting eleven."
ussoccer.com: You have been rooming with midfielder Angie Woznuk for most of the world championship. What of her many positive qualities have rubbed off on you?
Editor's note: This question was submitted by Angie Woznuk.
Becky: "She's very considerate when it comes to being a roommate. She wakes up early in the morning and already has her outfit for the day laid out in the bathroom so she doesn't disturb me. She's prepping for her return to college in the spring and studies more than someone who is actually in classes, which I find a little strange, but she did motivate me to buy a 'German for Dummies' book to prepare for my college courses."
ussoccer.com: We hear there is a UVA tradition involving a late night stroll, sans clothes, on "the Lawn." Do you plan to partake before graduation?
Becky: "I plan to partake more than once, and I am not saying whether I have already partaken. If feels right I'll do it, but I have seen many people streak on that lawn."
ussoccer.com: Rare is the international-caliber women's soccer player who was born and raised in Missouri, with yourself and Lori Chalupny being prime exceptions. Is the "Show Me" state becoming a fertile training ground for soccer players?
Becky: "The club team I played for, J.B. Marine, has been producing exceptional soccer players for the past several years. I think it's only a matter of time before more Missourians start making an impact on the top levels. My roommate Angie Woznuk didn't know where the state of Missoui was when I first met her. She asked me if it was on the East Coast. She now respects the great state of Missoui and wants to visit."
ussoccer.com: The University of Virginia was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson. If he were alive today, do you think you would enjoy hanging with him at a coffee shop on "The Corner?"
Becky: "Yeah, I could hang with TJ. I would ask him about secret societies and if he was really in one. And I'd ask if he really had an affair with his cooking lady."
ussoccer.com: The U.S. team has allowed just one goal in the tournament thus far. Can you talk about the play of the defense through four games?
Becky: "Our defense has been very solid and consistent through every minute of the four games so far. We've got good communication and the experience of playing with each other for the last couple of months has definitely strengthened our chemistry. When you genuinely like the people you play with, it always makes the team better."
ussoccer.com: Speaking of the defense, you have played every minute of the tournament next to fellow gritty central defender Rachel Buehler. Can you give us a few favorite Buehler moments?
Becky: "Well, the diving backwards header from the ground that she had against Australia was one of my favorites. Somehow, she tripped but hurtled over an Australia player, slid on the ground on her back and headed the ball with the back of her neck straight to one of our midfielders. Also, she has a tendency to drink a lot of water during halftime, so she usually comes out of the locker room and says something like, 'uuuhhhhh, my stomach hurts.' But my most favorite thing about her is that she is probably the nicest person I have ever met."
ussoccer.com: We hear you were quite the basketball and volleyball player in high school. Did you ever want to play either in college?
Becky: "I wanted to play basketball in college and I was seriously talking with my dad about contacting the UVA basketball coach, but when I brought the idea to my soccer coach at Virginia, Steve Swanson, he quickly said 'no.' Volleyball is my second favorite sport behind soccer, but I am too short to play in college. I still find time to play at school, though, just messing around."
ussoccer.com: You played with the Raiders, a boys team from Under-5 through Under-8. How was that experience?
Becky: "At the time, I was considered just one of the boys, so it never got awkward. I even had sleepovers with them because they were my best friends. Some of them are still some of my good friends. That last year, the coach of the Raiders told me that it was time to switch to a girls’ team. I was kind of scared because I'd played with these boys since I started, but it was a great experience with the new team. I played with them until Under-13s."
ussoccer.com: You are rarely seen without a book in your hand. How did you develop into such a voracious reader?
Becky: "You make me sound like a dork. My mom and dad have a HUGE collection of books. They have shelves and shelves of them. Whenever I left for a trip, my mom would just hand me books, from murder mysteries to science fiction to books based on historical events. My dad also read with me when I was younger and likes Harry Potter, so we read those together."
ussoccer.com: You're family has owned cats your whole life. Who was your favorite cat, why, and is the cat really man's best friend?
Becky: "Muffin was my favorite cat. She actually died during this year and I was at a U-19 training camp. Stephanie Lopez was my roommate and she saw me crying. I think I freaked her out and she went into the bathroom to talk to her boyfriend. Muffin was a regular tabby and she had black and white stripes. She was very loyal and always knew when I was sad. She would always come up to me when I wasn't feeling good. She was a very psychic cat and didn't take any nonsense from anyone. I think cats really are man's best friend."