Pilot in the Spotlight: Megan Rapinoe

By The Beacon | October 31, 2012 9:00pm

Megan Rapinoe (Right) and her fraternal twin Rachael (left) showing off their new Pilots scarfs in their return to Merlo Field on Oct. 28 to watch UP take on LMU. Megan is coming off a gold medal-winning performance for the U.S. women’s soccer team in the 2012 Olympics. Rachael played for UP from ‘04-’08. (Giovanna Solano | THE BEACON)

By Taylor Tobin, Staff Writer tobint16@up.edu

Former UP women's soccer player and London Olympics gold medal winner Megan Rapinoe attended the women's soccer game against Loyola Marymount University to be honored for her performance and sign autographs for fans last Sunday. Her fraternal twin, Rachael Rapinoe, also attended the game. They recently moved back to Portland together where they live in the offseason. Megan and Rachael both played for the UP women's soccer team from '04-'08, but Rachael suffered a knee injury four games into her senior year that left her on the sidelines for the rest of the season.

Is it nice being back at Merlo Field today?

Megan: I'm a little jealous, actually. The field looks beautiful. I haven't been back many times since I graduated from here, obviously traveling a bunch. I live here now [in Portland] and it's nice. It's home to me. It's newer and nicer, but this field is definitely home to me.

What was your favorite thing about UP?

This field. The games we've had on this field. My freshman year was very special. Obviously, we won [the NCAA Championship] that year. The crowds were awesome. It was just something special. Getting to play with [Christine] Sinclair was unbelievable. She's one of, if not the best, forward in the world.

What was it like playing against former teammates at the Olympics?

We [Megan and Sinclair] had quite the dual in the semi-final. You're on different teams, and obviously we wanted to win, but its really cool, Sophie [Schmidt] as well, to have three Pilots on the field and show what UP soccer's all about. We kind of play the same way, and it comes from here.

How was standing on the podium at the Olympics and receiving the gold medal?

It's like the culmination of all your childhood dreams coming true. But it's very surreal. It's like, what do you do when you've achieved your childhood dream? You know that it's this pinnacle moment, but it's hard to have it all sink in and really feel it. Surreal is the only way I can really describe it.

How has your life been since the Olympics?

It's been awesome. We've had quite a few games. Me and my twin sister, [Rachael], got a place. So we're doing like grown-up furniture shopping which is a little bit stressful. Obviously we won, and that always leaves you on a high. Last year was amazing, but you know, to lose in the final [of the World Cup] is just that gut-wrenching feeling. We're just riding the wave. We're taking it all in.

What do you see for the future of women's soccer?

I envision a lot. I hope a lot for it. Our popularity right now is maybe higher than it's ever been. Maybe higher than '99. It's incredible and it's not just one person. There are so many different personalities on the team. The team is so, so popular right now. We've sold out every stadium basically for the last year. But you know, a [women's soccer] league I think is in the future. It needs to be a good league and a sustainable league and there are a lot of really smart people working on that. I see a lot. I think it's here. I think it's been raised to a level that it hasn't ever been before.

How was coming out as gay before the Olympics for you?

Everything has been super positive. I didn't really expect it to not be positive. In a way, it was kind of a non-event. I think most people suspected I was gay. I live my life pretty openly, but there is something I think is really important about standing up and saying this is who you are. We do live part of our life in the public eye so I think people make that choice to keep it personal. But I think if we really want to break down these barriers that we have in this country, and in general in the world, it takes people standing up and saying "Yeah, this is who I am," and it's fine.

What was it like being gay at a Catholic university?

It's interesting. It's kinda like, you know, Catholic, white, sort of that vibe I guess at the school, but then you live in Portland. So there was never, ever a problem here. Everybody was super accepting.