Combine a bulldozer with a ballerina, and you have U.S. midfielder Shannon Boxx. Equally adept at running through an opponent as dancing around her, Boxx has emerged in the U.S. midfield over the past two years after she was surprisingly named to the 2003 Women’s World Cup Team without ever previously earning a cap. She scored in her first three matches – a U.S. record – and has started every game she has played in since then except for one. She took some time out from preparations for the USA’s match against Canada on Sunday, June 26, in Virginia Beach, Va. (live on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. ET) to talk about being a new homeowner, her midfield responsibilities and Notre Dame football.
USSOCCER.COM: The team is back in camp for the first time since the Algarve Cup with a lot of new players and some veterans. How has camp been so far?
Boxxy: “It’s been great. It’s been exciting and I’m happy to be back around my teammates and in a great soccer environment. Camp has been kind of what we expected. We’ve been playing lots of games and doing double-days, but that is all very welcome as compared to training on my own.”
USSOCCER.COM: With the retirement of some veterans, you are suddenly the third oldest player on the team. Do you see yourself picking up more leadership responsibilities?
Boxxy: “I see it happening a little bit. The younger players are looking to me on the field a little bit more. They see how hard I train, the work ethic and the competitiveness, but I am still looking up to players as well, players who have been here a lot longer than I have. I feel like I am still pretty new.”
USSOCCER.COM: You recently moved into a new house in Orange County, Calif. Was that fun or are you still unpacking?
Boxxy: “It’s been fun, but it closed while we were in Portugal (for the Algarve Cup) so that was a little stressful. And yes, I am still unpacking. It’s been three months, but it’s pretty organized. There is just one more room that has all my memorabilia and pictures and other junk. I need to clean out that room and put some stuff on the walls.”
USSOCCER.COM: Some say you have developed into one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. How do you see the role of that position on the U.S. team?
Boxxy: “My responsibilities are defensive first. I guess I’m one of the leaders in the midfield as I help direct the team from there. First and foremost, I am responsible for winning tackles and head balls, and at the same time always trying to be composed enough to set play. And, if I get lucky, get a goal or two.”
USSOCCER.COM: Your sister won a gold medal in softball in the 1996 Olympics. When you two were growing up, did you possibly think that you both would win Olympic gold medals?
Boxxy: “Not at all, but if I look back now, I can see why we did. Our mom put us in sports very early, but she didn’t have to make us play. From the minute we started, we loved it. Talking to her now, she says we were both very competitive at a very young age and we competed with each other as well. We always wanted to be better and if you look at many Olympic athletes today, they all had those qualities in common when they were young.”
USSOCCER.COM: Speaking of your mom, she must brag to her co-workers about her daughters? “Oh, your daughter won the school spelling B? Well, my daughter won an Olympic gold medal. Actually, both of them did.”
Boxxy: (Laughing) “She doesn’t brag to her co-workers because she is retired, but she is very proud. Actually, she doesn’t really mention us that much. She is doing some part-time work and they wanted her to work on Sunday during our game. She told me that she was hoping they would let her off and if they wouldn’t, she would have to tell them that her daughter was a gold medallist and that she had to watch the game.”
USSOCCER.COM: The team had two intense full-field scrimmages this week with a lot of combative play. Who on the U.S. team does it hurt the most to run into?
Boxxy: “It has to be Marci Miller. She is one of the toughest players I’ve every played against. She is great in the air, great on the ground and came out of the game with two bloody noses in two days. That’s not a girl you want to run into.”
USSOCCER.COM: Looking forward to the Canada match, what kind of game are you expecting and what can we expect to see from the U.S. team?
Boxxy: “Obviously, I am expecting a battle as Canada is always a scrappy team and they have been playing a lot of good games recently. From us, I see us battling hard defensively, but then being composed to play with a lot of one-twos with combination play and pace. We might see a different lineup from Portugal, but I think the new players will have the confidence to play well. You can already see it in training.”
USSOCCER.COM: As a Fighting Irish alumni, do you think Charlie Weiss will be able to bring Notre Dame Football back to its former glory?
Boxxy: “You are asking the wrong the person, but I hope so. I loved going to games when I was there, but I haven’t been able to see too many games recently. It would be good to see Notre Dame football back on top. But however they play, the fans and alums will always be loyal.”
USSOCCER.COM: You former partner in the midfield Julie Foudy will be doing color commentary for ESPN for the match against Canada. Have you told her to say some nice things about you?
Boxxy: “I slipped her a $20 when she interviewed me in Los Angeles last week for a halftime piece. She took it.”
USSOCCER.COM: Your nickname is Boxxy. Does anyone call you Shannon?
Boxxy: “Amazingly, Greg Ryan does. He called me Shannon today and I was shocked. I was like, ‘who?’ On the soccer field, though, it’s always Boxxy.”
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