Originally posted Sept. 9, 2014.
At just 21 years old, Sam Mewis has already experienced a lot of success on the soccer field. The midfielder helped UCLA to the NCAA Division I Championship in 2013, was part of the gold medal-winning U.S. Under-20 Women’s World Cup squad in 2012 and has appeared for the U.S. Women’s Senior National Team.
Many of her experiences have included her sister, Kristie, a former Boston College standout who now plays for the Boston Breakers in the NWSL. From their days growing up and playing in Hanson, Mass., to entering a game together for the U.S. Women’s National Team, the Mewis sisters have shared many events in their soccer careers.
Sam — who played in the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series and US Youth Soccer National League with Scorpions SC (MA), as well as US Youth Soccer ODP — took time to answer some questions on the importance of family in soccer and how the game can impact a household.
What has it been like having a sister to play the game with, from your youth days all the way up to the highest level?
It’s been really cool. Growing up, we learned a lot together and were able to just play in the backyard. I think that’s where both of us developed a lot, just playing against each other and working in things. We both would just tirelessly want to be out there practicing and getting better. I think that led to both of us having success in soccer — having each other to use and work off of and learn from.
As we got older and started playing together on more competitive teams, like the U-17 World Cup team that went to New Zealand and the U-20 World Cup team that went to Germany, I think it allowed us to get more out of those experiences by sharing them with someone from our family. Our bond as sisters definitely grew because we were doing these once-in-a-lifetime things together. Experiencing something so cool through soccer alongside someone from your family is so rare, and I think it helped us both become better players and better sisters for each other. It’s one of the coolest things I can imagine, having her here alongside me and going along the same path as her.
How important has family support been for you in your career so far?
It has been everything. My parents both coached us in youth sports. They both played soccer. My dad knows the game really well, and I trust his opinion. I call him all the time and ask for advice. They both watch all of our games. I really respect their opinion on everything on the field. I’ve learned so much from both of my parents.
My dad used to drive us 13 hours on a weekend for a club tournament. Their commitment was the sole reason that Kristie and I have both made it so far. I can’t imagine what it would have been like without them. Our soccer success is solely because of our parents’ commitment. They have always supported so much and loved us and wanted the best for us. I think my family unit being so in love with soccer has been the biggest component of me being where I am today.
What do you think makes a good youth soccer parent?
Even if you don’t know the game very well, I think it’s important to just want your kid to have fun. For a lot of kids playing youth soccer, the main goal is to get exercise and have fun and make friends. They might not be the next Abby Wambach or the next Mia Hamm. If they are, that’s awesome. I think it’s important that parents don’t put pressure on their kids to go beyond having fun and enjoying the game. I think when it gets to that point, it becomes more about the parent than the kid and that’s not good for anybody. I think my parents were awesome role models. They allowed us to grow on our own, and it was always our choice. They supported us every way they could, but I never felt pressured to do anything I wasn’t interested in. I think it’s just respecting your kids’ wishes and being supportive of whatever they decide to do.
How closely do you and Kristie follow each other’s games?
We follow each other pretty closely. I was very supportive of her season with the Boston Breakers this past summer. I follow all of her games with the National Team. I think she does the same for me. We always have it on our radar when the other one is playing in a game or going into a camp. That’s good to know I can call her if I’m staying in a National Team camp and having a hard time or have a rough game. She’s in the loop enough to know, and she has my back and will support me if I need her. We stay pretty connected, and it’s pretty cool to have someone in my family who knows what I’m going through all the time.
What was it like to play with Kristie on the U.S. Women’s National Team? You two even came on at the same time. What was that experience like?
It was a dream come true. We’ve been dreaming of playing on the National Team since the first time we saw them play when I was about 6 years old. We were watching the 1999 team qualify and go on to win the World Cup. That was our dream. We used to wear Mia Hamm jerseys around the house. It’s just so cool, seeing that it’s a possibility we could both do that as a career if we worked hard.
It was unbelievable. It’s one of the coolest memories I have — coming on the field at the same time as her. Just knowing she has my back and she was there. We helped each other get there to the highest level of soccer. It was just so cool. It is one of my favorite memories. It was absolutely incredible.
At UCLA, you won the NCAA title last year. How cool was that and how excited are you for your season coming up?
Winning the whole thing last year was unbelievable. The new coaching staff came in and did a remarkable job of bringing everybody together. We have a lot of talented individuals. We came together really well last year, and that will be the challenge again this year. We have to make sure we’re working together and working hard and take it one game at a time. The goal is definitely to win again and hopefully we can.
You’ve obviously had some success at the college level. How did playing in US Youth Soccer ODP — playing at the Regional Championships, National Championships and in the National League — help prepare you?
All of it helped. State ODP is the first step, I think, to getting noticed. I did the traditional route. I played State ODP, I made the Regional team, and from there is when I got called into my first National Team camp. Other girls do it different ways and get called in when they’re older. I really did it from the ground up with State ODP and my club team. I was fortunate to be with a good club team with Scorpions in Massachusetts. The practices were really competitive. We went to a lot of tournaments and the girls were all really good. A lot of them ended up going to Ivy League schools. I think my development as a youth player was instrumental in becoming the player I am today. My club team helped me with becoming a good technical player, and ODP is what ended up getting me noticed by the National Team. I think it’s important to really not skip any steps and try to take every opportunity you can to play.
For more on the Mewis sisters, you can check out some videos on the U.S. Soccer YouTube page here, there, over there, back here, and don’t forget here.