The American has already broken a number of NWSL records and is now set to star for the US at the Women’s U20s World Cup
When Olivia Moultrie was just seven years old, she sat down, created a list of goals and, effectively, planned out the rest of her life. At the time, she was a lot like every other seven-year-old who kicks a ball, and had the same ambitions as many her age.
Number one: She wanted to be a professional soccer player. Number two: Win championships. Number three: Win a World Cup.
And number four: Be the best player in the world.
In a way, on the day she made that list and set those goals for herself, Moultrie’s childhood ended. Every moment, every choice, every lawsuit, every training session and every game has been geared towards that fourth goal.
Now 16, Moultrie can already say that she has completed her primary goal of becoming a professional.
In fact, she completed it three years ago, when she signed her first pro contract and rocketed into the spotlight as American soccer’s latest prodigy.
Soccer in the United States has never encountered a player like Moultrie, a young girl who is so singularly determined and passionate, while also personable and thoughtful. She is probably the most atypical 16-year-old athlete on the planet and, more than likely, the most self-aware.
Nothing Moultrie does is normal because the normal kids don’t become the best soccer players in the world; the extraordinary ones do.
“I’m just living that professional soccer player life,” Moultrie tells GOAL in an exclusive interview, “and sometimes other people have to pull me back and be like, ‘What you’re doing, it’s crazy.’ My dad all the time just stops me and says it’s amazing.
“I get so caught up in the moment of just like, I just want more and more and more, and that’s what I’m working for every day.
“Sometimes, I have to have family members kind of pull me back and be like, ‘Liv you’re only 16.’
“It’s crazy, but I want everything to happen so fast.”
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Fast is an understatement.
In the years since making her list, Moultrie has become the youngest to achieve just about everything you can achieve in American soccer without playing for the senior national team, establishing herself as a trailblazing prodigy that has fans of all generations hailing her as a role model .
She committed to the University of North Carolina at age 11, and promptly backed out of that to become a professional at 13.
By 15, she and her family had sued the NWSL, alleging that the league violated the Sherman Antitrust Act with the age limit that was preventing her from playing.
Before turning 16, she had won that lawsuit, made her NWSL debut, made her first start and scored her first professional goal.
Now, in a year where she should be focusing on getting her driver’s license, Moultrie is focused on what she can do to help the Portland Thorns win an NWSL title.
She has Featured a total of 19 times for the Thorns and is now preparing for the Under-20 World Cup, where she will join the US as far and away the youngest member of the squad.
“I don’t want the regular 16-year-old life,” she says. “That’s why I chose this path. I don’t want to really think like, ‘Oh, I’m missing out on this’ because, well, this is all I’ve ever wanted.
“And now I am ‘living the dream’. I love what I’m doing and that’s why I chose to go into this and just jump all the way in.”
Moultrie, though, does understand she is missing out on some foundational experiences, the ones that define life for most people her age.
She’s missing the weekend hangouts, the school dances, the pep rallies, those quiet moments where she can be just like every other 16-year-old.
Her family does, though, try to give her some taste of normalcy.
“I love being a sister,” she says. “I have two Younger Sisters and that’s a huge part of my life too. That’s kind of my view of like, the norm, you know?
“Seeing them in their lives and emailing Colleges and working towards what they want, it’s been really cool for me to see that.
“I have an amazing family who support me and that’s always a big thing that I love to tell the world because they deserve a lot of love for that. They’ve been behind me and I’m really appreciative of that.”
Moultrie is also appreciative of the help she has received along the way from teammates who, whether willingly or unwillingly, were thrust into older sister roles the moment she showed up in Portland.
Christine Sinclair, Lindsey Horan, Tobin Heath, Emily Sonnett, Meghan Klingenberg… Moultrie rattles off the names of those who have, at one point or another, taken her under their wing.
“I wanted to latch on and grab all of the experience they had and just ask all these questions,” she says. “What’s that kind of life like for them? Because that’s what I want.”
Like her teammates, Moultrie has rapidly turned into a role model herself. It’s a bit of an unusual phenomenon.
One look at Moultrie’s social media pages produces a variety of responses, most that would normally be directed at World Cup winners, not teenagers.
“My daughters adore you,” reads one. “Thank you for being such a great role model”, another says. One final one: “The young woman that changed Women’s football in the US”
It can be overwhelming, but in the age of social media, it’s not something Moultrie could necessarily avoid, even if she wanted to.
Not that she does. She likes being an example, a leader, a role model, much like the women she grew up idolizing.
“I never went into this thinking that or hoping that people are going to look up to me and I’m going to be a role model,” she says. “You don’t think that but, obviously, that has become a side effect of everything that I’ve done.
“It’s really cool to me. I definitely wanted to be somebody that was able to inspire the Younger generation, not just females, but males too.
“The whole thing that I’ve been fighting for is equal opportunity. We should have the same thing, the same opportunities that the men have and we should be able to do those same things.
“We’re capable of it and the world should allow that.”
Right now, though, Moultrie is still focused on those main four goals, although she is adding a few more to the list.
“I want to be able to feel like I have the experience of a 25-year-old when I’m 18,” she says. “I’m trying to just gather all of that as quickly as possible.
“I want to win Championships with the Portland Thorns. I’d love to be able to win NWSL MVP. I think going to Europe is very realistic for me at some point.
“You grow up watching the Champions League and seeing that and I’d love to be able to compete in one of those and win one of those. It’s like a childhood dream. The Champions League, that’s the coolest thing in the whole world!
“World Cups, Olympics, all the things at the international level are obviously very important, both with the U20s and then, hopefully, with the full team someday.
“My Ultimate goal is I want to be the best player in the world, and that’s what I strive for every day.
“I know It sounds like a lot, but it’s just this exciting journey that I get to go after every day. I wouldn’t want it to be any other way.”
Big Dreams for a girl who has already achieved unprecedented things. Can anyone or anything stop her from achieving them? Nothing has so far.
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