Soccer Star Alex Morgan Shares Lessons She's Learned On and Off the Field

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Alex Morgan is a shining example of true inspiration for the #BUILTBYGIRLS movement. At just 25, the American soccer player has scored game-winning goals, broken records and has been a strong voice in the fight for gender equality in her sport. Not to mention, she happens to be an Olympic gold medalist.

But the superstar athlete has racked up achievements off the field as well. She wrote a book series about a girls' soccer team called The Kicks, aimed at empowering young women to go after their dreams and appreciate the value of teamwork. The first in the series debuted at number seven on the The New York Times Best Seller list in the Children's Middle Grade category. Like we said, Alex is a true inspiration.

Even as she works hard to prep for this summer's FIFA Women's World Cup, Alex partnered up with Tampax Pearl Active to give girls the tools to do great things. "Tampax offers protection and comfort while you are playing the game," she told Cambio. "It gives me the confidence to give it my all every day."

Read on for our interview with the fearless soccer star to find out what she said about balancing sports and school, overcoming bullying, playing in her first major game, the "Twirlgate" controversy and more!

C: When did you know that you wanted to be a soccer player?
AM: I pretty much knew I wanted to be a soccer player when I was 8 years old - and I have proof of that. My mom still has the note I wrote when I was 8 that says it. It became realistic when I was 18 or 19 years old and I realized my potential. I was being looked at by youth national teams and a national team coach.

C: Did sports help you excel in your studies and navigate through any high school drama?
AM: In high school, I played so many different sports. I used to play soccer, volleyball and track. I was always too busy to be wrapped up in the high school stuff. I didn't really have a lot of free time. I was always traveling with my soccer team, either in California or even out of state. I did my homework or read books in the car while my dad drove me to and from practices. I was really motivated to continue to move up in soccer and get a college scholarship. That was more than enough reason for me to stay focused.

C: What about when you got to college? Did you have a similar experience?
AM: I thought I was always good at balancing schoolwork and extracurricular activities, but when I got to college, I got a wake up call. At that level, you have triple the amount of reading that you have in high school, triple the amount of not only homework, but there's also studying for exams and stuff. I felt like I almost had it easy in high school, but at least it set me up to have a smoother transition in college.

C: As someone who can influence young girls, what message do you try to convey to them?
AM: Confidence is huge - not only in sports but in life. I know so many girls go through this rollercoaster of feeling confident and not feeling confident, having a lot of self-esteem and not so much. For me, it's important to display my confidence because I really think it's contagious. I want to show girls that their dreams can become a reality through believing in yourself and being confident in everything you do.

C: Who inspires you?
AM: My parents inspire me. They sacrificed so much time...just so much when I was younger. They travelled with me all around playing soccer, balancing time between me and my sisters, putting us all through college. They've always been so supportive of me. My teammates also inspire me. Abby Wambach, for example, has a huge family. She's the youngest of seven or eight brothers and sisters, and she handles everything in stride. She's someone who I look up to, and she's a really good friend of mine.

C: Have you experienced bullying or negativity on social media?
AM: In the World Cup and Olympics, I went through all that. I'm not even in the spotlight like a bigger celebrity. I definitely realized that people will sit behind their computers and will say not-so very nice things. I have a Twitter. I have an Instagram. I have a Facebook. Once I started getting negative comments, I realized that it's so important to take care of what you say because it can truly affect someone.

C: How do you deal it?
AM: You just need to focus on your supporters, like my family. They support me so much. It's important to talk about it with people and have a support system. You have to get it off your chest. The people who may be bullying you or using hate speech...they don't mean anything in your life. There's a reason why you have such great people surrounding you and those people would never say bad things about you.
australia, soccer, alex morgan
C: What kinds of obstacles have you gone through, and how do you bounce back?
AM: Well, I've known a lot of setbacks. In my career, it's usually injuries. It's when I'm not on the field, when I don't get to do my job...my life is soccer and representing my country. When I'm not able to do that, it's huge for me. I try to have a positive attitude and also reach out to people who have had similar injuries or gone down a similar path. It's all about having that positive mindset because it never helps to have a negative attitude. There are certain things you can control in life and your attitude is a big one.

C: How do you prepare for a big game, like the upcoming 2015 Women's World Cup?
AM: It would take a very long time to explain how I am preparing for the World Cup. But for a typical game, preparation can start anywhere from four days before to years before. Physically, my fitness and strength should be peaking when the World Cup begins. Every day is time never given back, so I try to take advantage of every day I have to prepare. Trust me, when there are 10 teammates on the field putting their work in, you do not want to be the one who is not giving 100 percent.

C: How did it feel to play in your first major game?
AM: It felt like I belonged, and I waited a very long time for it. It was a feeling of relief knowing that all of the preparation I put in during my life paid off just a little with that first game.

C: Lastly, there was outrage over a male commentator asking Eugenie Bouchard to twirl after winning her second-round match in the Australian Open. What are your thoughts on that?
AM: I also think it's ridiculous that the players were asked to twirl after the match. They are here to win matches and play tennis and that's the bottom of it. We may wear makeup, or brush our hair, or wear outfits to express our personality, but that doesn't mean we should be treated any less than men.

C: Have you experienced sexism in your career? If so, what advice do you have for women?
AM: In sports today, sexism is still very alive. Just like our lawsuit against FIFA, which just dropped because the World Cup is a mere four months away, we brought awareness to sexism that still exists in sports. Without women standing up for themselves and each other, we would not even be where we are today. My advice is to feel confident in what you do or who you are, and to write your own future.
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