For Becky Sauerbrunn, it doesn’t get any better than lacing up her cleats and kicking around a soccer ball…well, that is, unless she can do it while representing her country in the Women’s World Cup. And that’s just what she did this summer, when she was a starting player and played the entire game in the semi-finals in Germany. We asked the hometown girl and Ladue H.S. ’03 grad about the experience.

LN: Was starting in the World Cup your lifelong dream?

BS: Yes, ever since 1999, when the U.S. women won in penalty kicks! From then on, it was a dream to play in the World Cup. I thought I wouldn’t have a chance this time around because I hadn’t been with the national team very much, but someone got injured and I was able to step in.

LN: So it lived up to your expectations?

BS: It was worth the effort, absolutely. I felt pretty nervous going into the game, and actually other people were more nervous for me, but once I got in and connected a few passes, it was just a soccer game; and I have been playing for a large portion of my life, so it just got very comfortable.

LN: Growing up, you played for Ladue and JB Marine. Did you feel prepared for the next level of play?

BS: I’d been with JB Marine since I was 12, and it’s a very good club with excellent coaches. They taught soccer differently from other club coaches, teaching you to keep the ball on the ground and connect passes, and be smart positionally, and just timeless aspects of the game. That’s helped me so much to progress to professional soccer. At Ladue, it was such fun to play with all my friends, and even though it was not as serious as club soccer, I still learned a lot about sportsmanship and being a team player and just to have fun when you’re playing. It’s an honor to be able to play with your friends.

LN: Is it still that much fun, or does it become a job at some point?

BS: There is a shift because now it’s your livelihood. But you still have fun, or else why are you playing? We’re not making millions of dollars, and honestly, a lot of us could quit and get a 9 to 5 job where we would make more than we do playing soccer.

LN: Do you think St. Louis will continue to be a big player in the national soccer scene?

BS: Yes, there’s such rich history here, especially on the men’s side, and I think that’s helped spark the women’s side, as well. A lot of the coaches that girls’ teams have now used to play professionally, and the quality of women’s soccer is only going to grow because of that. I’ve been to a lot of practices in the last couple of days, and seen the quality of the players, so I definitely think St. Louis will remain a hotbed for soccer.

LN: Tell us about your partnership with Signature Sports Medicine.

BS: They’re one of the largest orthopedic groups in St. Louis, and have one of the largest pediatric orthopedic practices in the U.S. I have always been big on injury prevention and fortunate in not being injured, which is something they are interested in, so it was a perfect fit. We’re trying to get the word out about simple steps you can take to prevent sports injuries. The big thing is a good warmup to make sure your body is warm and ready for exercise. Following that, you can do some agility exercises because a lot of sport is lateral movement, but in training, people focus on moving forward and backward. Incorporate cuts and jumps, using cones or hurdles, or just the lines on the court. Practice cushioning your impact on landing. When you form those healthy habits, it becomes part of your muscle memory. It’s important for every sport, and even if you just want to be active.