Future soccer stars get tips from gold medalist


Staff Writer

LITTLE SILVER — Christie Pearce Rampone is back from Greece and ready to hit the road again.

During the U.S. Women’s National Soccer player’s break between winning the gold medal at this year’s Olympics and a national tour with the team, Rampone, 29, originally from Point Pleasant, visited the borough to help give a soccer clinic for local recreation and travel teams.

The clinic was sponsored by the Peninsula Soccer Club and was run by Mike Lyons, of Wall, who was Rampone’s coach on the Olympic Development team when she was 15.

More than 100 young soccer players registered for the clinic, which took place last Saturday. They ran drills, practiced juggling the soccer ball with their heads and feet, and practiced both offensive and defensive positions.

Rampone showed off her skills at heading the ball. Lyons tossed the ball at her while she was lying down, sitting and standing.

“Did you all see how many headers Christie lost in the Olympics?” Lyons asked the kids as they sat in a circle around the demonstration. “None. I watched that very closely.”

Rampone plays defense on the national team and is recognized as one of the top defenders in the world.

“You build a team from defense first,” said Doug Glassmacher, coach of the boys U15 travel team, whom Rampone occasionally trains or trains with.

Besides being a native of the Jersey Shore area, and a 1997 graduate of Monmouth University, Glassmacher said that Rampone has other qualities that endear her to the kids she trains.

“She’s very humble and unassuming. That’s why she’s great with the kids,” he said.

After 2 1/2 hours of training, Rampone was presented with a bouquet of flowers, a laurel leaf wreath and a borough commemorative blanket, which was presented by Mayor Suzanne Castleman.

“She’s a wonderful role model for each and every one of you,” said Castleman.

The mayor admitted that she was late to a meeting the night of the Olympic soccer final game.

“I had to watch what happened,” she said.

After the presentation, the kids were able to ask Rampone questions. The focus was generally on her Olympic experiences.

Rampone also participated in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, winning a silver medal with her team.

She said this year’s Olympic experience was very emotional for her. Besides winning the gold and standing on that podium for the first time, several of her teammates will be retiring after this last national tour.

“I’m sad that I’ll never play on the same field with them again,” she said about her retiring teammates, such as Joy Fawcett and Julie Foudy, “but we’ll keep in touch.”

Rampone is confident she will be able to participate in at least one more Olympics, although she has already achieved her dream.

“Winning a gold medal has always been my dream,” she said. “ I really feel like we did it as a team.”