Earlier this year Christie Pearce stated that this would be her last season playing professionally. So when it was reported that she was finished for the season because of an accumulation of injuries I felt my heart drop to my stomach. I wasn’t ready for it. In my mind, she was always that constant on the pitch. She has always been around. Ever since I was a kid watching the ’99 World Cup. And then she was just gone. In a second. And I didn’t like it one bit. I still don’t. I thought I had at least six more matches to watch her play. And now it looks like that won’t be the case. But there is a slim chance that she returns next season. In what capacity? I don’t know. And what are the chances of that happening? It’s hard to say. But all I know is that the sport needs her to stick around. Whether that is as a player, a coach, a commentator, or an ambassador for the sport, it doesn’t matter. We still need her…And maybe some of us still aren’t ready to let her go.
Regardless, here are the five reasons Christie Pearce should stick around:
She’s Still Good At Her Job
It’s easy to say that Christie Pearce was still a competitor in the league this year. She was the fastest defender in the league, she was tough to beat in a one-v-one on the back line, and she could help be that steady, calming force for Sky Blue FC. But her job wasn’t simply to be a center back. It hasn’t been for a long time. She is Captain America. She is a leader, and an on-field player-coach when she needs to be. She is a mentor to younger players, and a role model for the league veterans to idolize. She inspires the next generation by being the living legend of the sport. It’s a lot of responsibility. And sure, someone else would step up if she walked away from the sport for a while. But it wouldn’t be the same. No one else could juggle so many roles so effortlessly.
Her Soccer IQ Is Off The Charts
There isn’t anyone in the league that has a higher Soccer IQ than Pearce. She simply knows how to win, and how to innovate, and how to inspire a team. So even if her insanely good skillset isn’t utilized on the pitch, it could definitely be taken advantage of off of it. Because I think she still has more to give to the game. She has coached Sky Blue to a championship before while she was playing in 2009. Why not use that knowledge of the sport as a full-time coach? She will succeed in it. And I guarantee it will be much less stressful than the last time she coached. Why not make a run at being the next Alex Ferguson?
The League (and Everyone Else) Respects Her
No one speaks a bad word about Christie Pearce. She holds herself to a standard that all athletes should. She is poised and humble, but still commands respect from her peers. And through the years her prior peers have become ambassadors for the league, commentators, or coaches. Now her peers are twenty-somethings that look at her as if she walked on water. Everyone, including the fans, will support her in whatever decision she decides to make for her future. Because she has made some pretty great choices in her career this far. I mean, I don’t see any other 42-year-old players on the pitch with two World Cup wins, three Olympic Gold Medals, and a Women’s Professional Soccer Championship, so she must be doing something right. So if she decides to hang up her boots and call it a day, everyone will respect her choice. And if she decides to stick around, in whatever capacity that is, her choice will be welcomed with open arms.
After the news broke of the end of Pearce’s season, Lifetime reported on it before their Match of the Week. And during their report, they stated that the young players of Sky Blue FC call Christie Pearce ‘Mom.’ And I get it. She is that person that they can always call on for reassurance or advice or a swift kick in the ass. But it isn’t just the Sky Blue women that see her in the mentoring role. It’s almost hard to not see her as that. She has seen more games and more situations than anyone else in the league. And going back to the second reason, she is great at knowing what to do and how to advise these women on the game. So if she hangs around, regardless of her position, she is still going to be looked to for the answers. Because she has seen it all – three separate professional leagues, pay disparities, and a bunch of FIFA politics. To put it simply, her input for these women and this league is invaluable.
We Don’t Want To Let Her Go
I get it if she wishes to walk away. She deserves a break. She deserves a happy retirement. She has been playing professionally for longer than any other active player. Think about the players that came and went during her career; how many of her friends she watched retire while she kept going. But then I think about her not being around to mold and shape the future of the sport and I have a difficult time thinking that anyone else wouldn’t want her to stick around. The players, the coaches, the fans, and the league hold her to a higher standard. And it is a standard that no one else has reached yet (and maybe never will). But the real question is if we are ready to let her go. I don’t think that we are. We can if we have to, but like that first Sky Blue match without her, it will be a strange experience.
At the end of the day, the choice is Christie’s. And we will all respect it no matter what, whether she stays or takes her much deserved retirement to be with her family. And maybe this article is a selfish plea to get her to stick around. I recognize that. I also recognize that my opinion undoubtedly holds zero weight in Christie Pearce’s mind. The whole point of this article is to highlight how she still holds a very meaningful place in the sport. One that cannot be filled by anyone else. And it doesn’t matter how she would decide to fill that place if she does. We will take anything that she is willing to give us. Because for us, she is irreplaceable.