The U.S. Women’s National Team players are known for their athletic abilities and the inspiration they provide to fans across the world. They’re role models and winners. They’re also young, vibrant, fun and can make you feel like they’re your BFFs in a matter of seconds.
They have traditions they swear by, they tell inside jokes, and they use fun nicknames for each other. With the WNT Dictionary, we present an inside peek into the world of the U.S. WNT and invite you to join the U.S. team as it gets ready to compete for a fourth title at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this summer.
Sometime in 2017, Alex Morgan and Allie Long decided to make their stadium arrivals on game day just a tad more fun. After stepping off the bus, the two teammates and friends look for the camera broadcasting the team’s arrival. Then, without hesitation, they perform a short skit or action – one example being when the team played in Cleveland, the pair threw chalk into the air to emulate LeBron James’ famous pregame ritual. The original goal was to make the person behind the camera laugh. As time passed, it became more about letting loose before a big matchup. Do they plan it? Sometimes. Do they nail it? Every time.Watch Video
WNT forward Alex Morgan is a goal scorer, a force to be reckoned with, and one of the most popular players in the world. And while her actual name is now a household name, the 29-year-old was once better known as Baby Horse. Coined in 2011 by her teammates, Morgan has always had this unique way of running on the field – taking large, elegant gallops… like a horse. She was 21-years-old when the nickname began, hence the baby part. She has more titles to her name now. Alex Morgan, World Cup and Olympic champion has a nice ring to it, but we’ll never forget Baby Horse. *cue bye bye Lil’ Sebastian*
The beep test is kind of a slow death,” according to former WNT midfielder Heather O'Reilly—one of the fastest, fittest players in U.S. WNT history. So, what is the beep test? It's a fitness tool used by the high-performance team—led by WNT High Performance coach Dawn Scott—to test a player's endurance, both physically and mentally. The test is composed of a series of stages during which a player must run from one line to the other and return to the original line before the next beep. As the stages increase, the time between beeps decreases. The best thing about the beep test is the camaraderie it brings to the team. Players cheer for each other and push each other for one more run; one more beep.
The U.S. WNT has a few things they swear by, one of those is where they sit on the bus. Whether for training or a game, the U.S. players enter the bus and instantly take their seats. Forward Megan Rapinoe and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris like to be close to the front, usually fifth row. Defender Crystal Dunn and midfielder Julie Ertz like to go the back of the bus, just like defender Abby Dahlkemper and midfielder Rose Lavelle. While there is technically no assigned seating, athletes are creatures of habit.
You know the WNT is competitive. You know they win games. You know they’ve won three World Cups. But the team also loves to keep it light and fun. This team loves to dance. They dance in the locker room, they jam on bus rides, they shake it after training and in their hotel rooms. They’re ferocious on the field but they’re also human. How can anyone not love that? Special shout out to defenders Crystal Dunn and Emily Sonnett, and midfielder Rose Lavelle who are always the one to give us all the kind reminder to enjoy life and bust a move here and there.
U.S. WNT forward Megan Rapinoe and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris are known for scoring goals and saving goals. Off the field, the two are revered for their fashion, their infectious personalities, and above all, their truly fantastic hair.
I mean, hear us out here.
Rapinoe’s platinum blonde pixie cut is iconic as it gets. Even if you’ve never seen her play a single minute, you’ve likely seen her somewhere. Harris, while most often recognized for her tattoos, caused the world of women’s soccer to take a collective pause when she cut her hair and dyed it brown a few years ago. As one of the most competitive teams in the world, the focus is always on wins and success, but it’s fair to sometimes take a minute to recognize perfection, and Harris’ hair is pretty darn close to it. The texture, the volume. Real recognizes real, and the hair envy is pretty real. She also doesn’t even take that long to do it, to which she says, ‘it’s because I’m good at it.’
Of forward Tobin Heath, midfielder Allie Long once said, ‘you can’t copy cool.’ Heath is laidback and relaxed (we’re talking strictly off the field) and she’s very proud of something she calls “hard chill,” – not to be confused with normal chill. “I try not to get my heart rate above 20,” Heath jokes. Hard chilling is an art, and Tobin Heath has perfected it. When we see the relentless energy she brings to games, we know she had a successful hard chill.
For reasons impossible to fully explain, forward Tobin Heath and midfielder Allie Long have been calling each other "Harry" for the past few years, to the point where they rarely use "Tobin" and "Allie" anymore. When we tried to find out why they call each other Harry, we sort of got some insight into their friendship, one that started way back on Under-20 WNT.
After an intense post-training session or game, it's all about how the players recover. One of the key elements are ice baths. Some players hate it, some players love it. Forward Carli Lloyd, a veteran on this team, is very pro-ice bath. A tub filled with bags and bags of ice certainly doesn't sound pleasant, but if it helps cool down the muscles and gets you ready to run nonstop and score a bunch of goals the next time, then count us in.
Jumping the Line
(ˈdʒʌmpɪŋ ðə laɪn):
A tradition that began around 2008 when Lauren Holiday, Amy Rodriguez and current forward Tobin Heath first came on to the National Team, involved the three of them going on the field for pre-game warm ups, hold hands, and together jump the line to enter the field. They did it every game, every time. Once Holiday retired in October 2015, Rodriguez and Heath continued the tradition. And now, years later, Heath still keeps it alive on her own; a nice nod to both tradition and friendship.
Linessi, The Great Horan and Dasani
( linessi / ðə ˌgreɪt ˈhɔːən / Dasani):
Midfielder Lindsey Horan and defender Emily Sonnett play together for the NWSL’s Portland Thorns and for the National Team. They spend a lot of time with each other both on and off the field. They love each other, they annoy each other, and they also have nicknames for each other (sort of). It has been well documented that Lindsey Horan is a huge Lionel Messi fan, so Sonnett calls her Linessi. However, if we’re being completely accurate, Linessi is a self-given nickname.
As for The Great Horan, well that one has a bit more of a story. Fellow midfielder Rose Lavelle decided to put a Twitter poll up (from Horan’s own account, mind you) to find a nickname for Lindsey. Two options were ‘Lindsey’ or ‘The Great Horan.’ The fans made it loud and clear that it was the latter and so the nickname was born. Lindsey wasn’t at fan at first and was not happy with how the name came to be, but now that time has passed, she embraces it. In an ironic way, the nickname encompasses much of what Horan is too. She’s great and powerful and dominant on the field. If you hear it, you know you can’t stop her. That’s a cool way to have people think of you, the greatest show with The Great Horan.
As for Sonnett, Lindsey refers to her often as ‘Son’ or ‘Sonny’ but then she went ahead and found a way to evolve the name to Dasani. So yeah, maybe not as sentimental, but cute and according to Lindsey, ‘I use Dasani all the time.’ That’s the sign of an excellent friendship no matter what.
Turns out that WNT midfielder Lindsey Horan and forward Mallory Pugh have come up with their own secret language. The interesting part is that they got a bit of help with it. High performance coach Dawn Scott seems to have played a part in the meep origins, and while they so far only have a few phrases going, it’s almost always a fact that when you’re around them, you’re going to hear it. Just be prepared to not understand a single meep of it.
(oosa oosa oosa ɑː):
Dating all the way back to 1985, when the U.S. WNT made its international debut in Italy, the Americans won over the Italian fans with their athletic players and dynamic play, and surprisingly the Italians starting cheering for the USA, which they pronounced, "OOOSA, OOOSA." The WNT was so impressed by the support from the Italians, they decided to adopt the chant in their next pre-game huddle. From that day on, through three World Cup wins and to this day, each pre-game huddle concludes with the same chant: "Oosa-Oosa-Oosa-Ah!" connecting the past to the present and representing the legacy of WNT success.
The U.S. Women's National Team is more formally known as the WNT, the U.S. WNT, the USWNT. But they're more informally known as 'The Gals'. It's mostly an internal nickname, used amongst the players. Fans of the team of course, have picked up on it and began using it as well. The nickname is short and sweet, it evokes friendship, style and a little bit of sass. In other words, the perfect way to describe this team and this group of women.
So Fresh, So Clean
(ˈsəʊ freʃ ˈsəʊ ˈkli:n):
Back in 2015, Katie Nolan (formerly with Fox Sports, now with ESPN) decided to take a small dig at the U.S. WNT kits unveiled before the World Cup in Canada. Said kit was all white, with some black on the sides, and volt socks. Yeah, it definitely did not scream U-S-A, but we did win a World Cup wearing those so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Anyway, Nolan’s issue was exactly that, that they were not very patriotic. The second issue was that when WNT forward Alex Morgan (and Tobin Heath as well) was asked time and time again about them on interviews, her go-to response was that they were “clean.” Nolan noticed that of course and decided to poke fun at the situation. As for the most recent kits, well, while they do have Red, White and Blue (and stars!), they’re also still… pretty clean.
Read what Katie Nolan had to say about this.
Worms and Janice
(wɜːmz ənd ˈdʒænɪs):
Alex Morgan and Kelley O’Hara are good friends. They hang out in camp, hang out outside of camp, they love the beach and they love their coffee. They’re also the champions of the first episode of the BFFs Quiz. As with any good pair of friends, the two have nicknames for each other, Kelley calls Alex ‘Janice’, and Alex calls Kelley ‘Worms.’ While not quite two names you would immediately think of when talking about these two, the names make sense.
Janice comes from the fact that Alex has two sisters and both of their names start with the letter J. Logically, Kelley felt appropriate to add a third J-Morgan to the mix, hence Janice was born. As for Worms… Kelley is lean, fit and petite. She also eats salads like it’s nobody’s business…so with that, Worms was born. But Kelley is also fast and is very strong so yeah, I wouldn’t mess with Worms, no matter what her name may indicate.