Megan Rapinoe’s Tips on Building a Winning Team

Megan Rapinoe at the 2020 Watermark Conference for Women

There are so many topics that would be fun to talk with soccer superstar and women’s advocate Megan Rapinoe about. But leave it to pioneering journalist Pat Mitchell to zero in on one so relevant to so many of us.

At the 2020 Watermark Conference for Women Mitchell (the first woman president and CEO at PBS, former president of CNN, co-founder and curator of TED Women) asked: What lessons did you learn on the field that would apply to building any great team?

Here is what the co-captain of the outstanding U.S. Women Soccer team, FIFA player of the year, and Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year had to say:

  • “First, you can always control how you react. You can’t always control the situation or the people you work with or your bosses.” And, it is important to focus on how you show up – the attitude or energy you bring to the situation she said. Sometimes, for example, she has shown up to training thinking: “I’m tired, and I want to leave.” But then she remembers that doesn’t help anyone else on the team so she course-corrects.
  • “The next thing I think about a lot is that sometimes you’re the star and sometimes you’re not. For so much of my career, I’ve not been the focal point, and now I’m having the totally opposite experience,” she said.But all roles on a team are important—supporting positions and starring positions. And, it is also important for everyone to acknowledge and value how all the different parts of the team make it work, she added.
  • “The last thing is you can do something every day to make your environment better, to make your world better,” she said. “I believe every person has the responsibility to make things better in whatever way they are suited. Everybody has not only the ability but the responsibility to do that.”

Rapinoe led the U.S. Women’s Soccer team to a historic fourth World Cup victory in 2019 and showed the world what a woman relishing triumph looks like. Three months before, she led her teammates to sue the U.S. Soccer Federation for Equal Pay.

As Sports Illustrated wrote in naming her Sportsperson of the Year: “She is just the fourth woman in the award’s 66-year history to win it unaccompanied, a feat that is both a remarkable athletic achievement and a reflection of entrenched gender biases. Rapinoe challenged perceptions of her, of female athletes, of all women.”


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