One of the biggest names in women's soccer is Alex Morgan. The US Women's National Team superstar helped lead her squad to the 2015 World Cup champioship. She's the first women's player to be on the cover of the FIFA video game series. And she's a role model to countless girls – and boys – around the world.
But how did Alex Morgan become, well, Alex Morgan? Disney XD answers that question this weekend. On Sunday, the station will air the latest episode of its Becoming series, which is focused on Morgan's rise to the top of not only soccer, but sports.
SI Kids spoke with Morgan about the episode, what she thinks about her big year, and how important it is to be a good role model for kids. Watch an exclusive clip from Becoming: Alex Morgan, then check out our interview with Alex Morgan!
How does it feel to be the focus of an episode of the Becoming series?
It’s really, really cool to have my own Becoming episode. I got to see the first episode was on LeBron when they approached me about doing this episode. I thought it was put together so well, and it’s interesting because a lot of the home videos that are in the episode people that will see I actually hadn’t seen in years. It was really fun for me to go back in time and relive those fun times from when I was younger.
Were you embarrassed watching any of the old videos of yourself?
Oh yeah, I mean, whenever you watch yourself or listen to your own voice – you’re so critical of yourself. It was funny. I definitely rolled my eyes a little bit. The episode depicts pretty much exactly who I am now and the kid I was being the youngest of three.
What were you like as a kid? Have you changed a lot since then?
I feel like I haven’t changed that much over time. I’m still very competitive, and I’m very close with my family and my sisters. I look to my parents for guidance and support, but also I want to make them proud as well, and I was like that when I was younger. I’m very family-oriented, and I think you see that a lot in the episode.
So much has happened in the past few months: the USWNT dominated at the World Cup, you were selected to be on the cover of FIFA 16. Did you ever think you would be such an accomplished professional athlete?
When I was younger and wanted to become a pro soccer player, I never realized the impact we would have as female athletes. It’s really cool to see young girls so excited about playing sports, about becoming a pro soccer player – or whatever it is they want to do in sports when they are older – it’s really great the responsibility we have. It’s up to us to continue the opportunity for women to continue playing sports.
What part of your rise to the top has surprised you the most?
Well, I think a lot of things have really shocked me. I guess it’s the people I’ve been able to connect and meet with, and how they’ve been so great. The people who have made such an impact on the biggest stages and have made such a big name for themselves, the fact that we kind of understand a little bit about each other without having to talk much. From LeBron to Serena Williams, I feel like I totally understand their rise and some of the specific aspects that are involved in that. I feel like that’s really cool thing about being a professional athlete is that you totally get it, and you’re able to meet so many great people who have worked so hard in their life to also get to the top of their sport.
When you meet young kids and young athletes, what are they most excited to ask you about?
When I meet young kids, the first thing they want to know is how I got to where I am. I always have a hard time answering that because there’s not really a secret to success. In the beginning, you have talent – whether that’s in sports or something else – but then it takes hard work, commitment, sacrifice. So, it’s such a short question, but not such a simple, easy, answer.
Without giving too much of what will be in the episode away, can you talk about some of your highs and lows?
I think the episode will show a lot of how I’ve become who I am today. Just the fact that a lot of times the adversity that I’ve faced has helped me become a better person, player, more committed to my sport. One example is a major injury I had a setback from when I was younger. I’ve dealt with injuries a lot leading up to the world cup, so I think people will be able to relate to that a lot.
Why is it so valuable for kids to be able to relate to you more?
I think it’s important because every little girl has a dream. I remember so vividly when I met Christine Lily – it was such a big deal for me, to know that she was real. I don’t even know what she said or how long she spoke to us, it was just the fact that she was giving us attention and she was human. It’s important to come down to their level and realize that I am relatable and I was in their shoes at one point. They aren’t alone in the sacrifices they’re making or the adversity they’re facing. Or they think that guys/boys get all of the opportunities that they don’t receive in sports. It’s important for me to relay that they do have opportunities and if they have dreams they can come true. That’s kind of why I want to show them. Hopefully the episode will do that as well as my kid’s book series and some other things I do to show that.
Obviously young girls can relate to you and will connect with you so much, but boys can definitely relate to you as well. What do you hope boys take away from the Becoming episode?
I find boys at our soccer games all the time who now love watching the game and watching the women’s game. It’s cool because kids have such an interesting perspective on life, and I think the more that they can see that women’s sports is such a natural thing and such a common thing… I think that’s the reason it’s becoming so much more accepted, not just in the US – it is very accepted in the US – but around the world. They can see what I went through, that I worked just as hard as the male professionals or boys – the top male basketball and baseball players – I think it will have them respect me a lot and see what they need to do to get to the next level.
Obviously you don’t become as talented and as good as you are overnight. What advice would you give to kids and young athletes about patience?
I would tell kids that patience is such an important trait that every athlete needs to have and it comes along well with injury, or timing – not every athlete is going to be able to start in every single game or be the best player in six months – it takes time and dedication. I still feel like at this point in my career, I’m still patient and working hard and hoping to still reach my pinnacle because I still feel like I’m not the best athlete that I can be. It takes a lot of time and patience is a big part of it.
Becoming: Alex Morgan airs Sunday, September 13, at 7 p.m. ET/PT on Disney XD.
Photos: Disney XD (Becoming), Ronald Martinez/Getty Images (action)