There are four women from the DC, Maryland, Virginia area that play for the Washington Spirit. Two of the local players are midfielders, Joanna Lohman and Christine Nairn. The other two are is defenders Ali Krieger and Whitney Church.
I was lucky enough to steal a some time with Lohman and had the chance to ask her a few questions.
In case you were wondering, yes, her magical mane looks just as good up close as it does on the pitch.
Backline Soccer (BS): Friday is the first semifinal, at home, in franchise history. Being from the area, how does it feel knowing you get to be a part of that and playing, not just in front of the home fans, but also your friends and family?
Joanna Lohman (JL): I think this is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid. Playing in a game of this magnitude, semifinal of the NSWL championship and play for a team that I care so much about and the town that I grew up in and all my best friends and parents and loved ones are here. It has a stronger meaning for me.
BS: The midfield hasn’t seemed to change as much as the rest of the lineup. Do you think that that consistency has played a role in the success of the team this season?
JL: I think it’s benefitted that the players in the midfield weren’t impacted by the Olympics and the positions stayed pretty steady and when you have that type of consistency you tend to be able to pick up on another’s nuances and strengths and weaknesses so you can really play off of each other and build a good rapport, I think it’s hard and credit to the front line and back line that still did so well even with players coming in and out. Everyone still played so well, I thought.
BS: Being one of the older players, do you feel any added pressure to help “carry” the team or help the younger players adjust to the league?
JL: I wouldn’t say pressure, I think it’s a responsibility that I take very seriously and I actually really enjoy. I like to build great relationships with the rookies, they keep me young and hopefully I can provide a little bit of guidance from them and how to hit the ground running when they come into the league. I think it’s quite the transition from college to the professional level, not just the speed of play but the dynamic of the team the resources that you have available to you and the demands the daily demands that it takes to be a professional and for me I’m more of a lead by example kind of person and just the attitude and the way I carry myself and the way I take care of my body can give them an example of how they can stay in the league for 12 seasons!
BS: So, a few of my friends have read Carli Lloyd’s book. She makes a testament to you and says that while you two were in ODP together, she looked up to you because she didn’t think she would be as good as you. Do you have any thoughts on that?
JL: She’s way better than me now. So yesterday, someone tweeted me about the book. I had been interviewed by, I assume her ghost writer, or someone who was helping to write the book, last winter.
Yesterday I went on a bike ride in Bethesda, I’m going to tell a story right now…
I stopped outside a Barnes and Noble, there was a wishing well and I had to make a wish. I won’t tell you what my wish is, but it involves Friday. I went inside and I saw the book just sitting there on the table and I thought “oh, I heard my name was in the book so I want to look in the index and read a couple of the pages.” As I was standing there, it was such a cool experience for me, I almost wanted to nudge the person next me, which was clearly a stranger, and be like “this was me she is talking about.” I think one of the greatest compliments that you can get, from the best player in the world, I think what you crave as a professional is to be respected by your peers. For me, that was such a special moment, she didn’t have to say anything about me, to know that she did. We’ve always had a relationship of the utmost respect for each other and we’ve grown up playing with and against one another since we were 14-15 years old, we’re talking about over 15 years of a relationship, almost 20 years, that we have been running in the same circles. I have such a strong appreciating for what she’s accomplished, and to know that a player like her, who’s won the Ballon D’or and scored multiple goals in a World Cup and Olympics. That she looked up to me, and I didn’t even know that. She remembered parts of my career that I didn’t even remember. I called my parents and took a picture of the pages and read it to them and we were all cracking up, I was like “I scored 2 goals in this game!” We were all cheering because we don’t really remember. The fact that she has that kind of memory and I’m included in it, it was just a testament I think for what I’ve been able to accomplish. I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am today, statistically speaking and trophy wise it’s not nearly as high as Carli, but I think I’ve reached my own personal potential and that’s what I’m most proud of and to know that Carli respects that and sees that too, I think that’s probably one of the coolest moments of my career.
BS: My hometown has a Penn State campus, I grew up a Penn State fan. What is your favorite creamery flavor?
JL: I haven’t been to the creamery very often, I haven’t been to Penn State in like 10 years, so can you list me a few…
BS: There’s Death by Chocolate, Peachy Paterno, Birthday Bash…
JL: Oh I’m a cake batter kind of girl, I think I might like that… Birthday Bash, we’ll go with that one.