Every team has that one player. The player who does the “dirty work,” and fulfills his or her role to a T. They forgo unnecessary fancy business, and instead focus on the fundamentals. They often fly under the radar in games, but to the team, they are the irreplaceable piece to the group’s cohesion and overall success.
Meet Keelin Winters, THAT player for the Seattle Reign. She plays defensive midfield behind two of the most dominate midfielders in women’s soccer, in Kim Little and Jess Fishlock.
Kim and Jess “wow” crowds with their crafty moves and flashy runs, while Keelin calmly orchestrates behind them executing crisp passes and dominating every battle.
It takes a certain player to assume this position. One who is self-assured and unconcerned with recognition.
When you come from a family of eight, as did Keelin, you learn early on the necessity of being a team player-especially so when your father is a former NBA coach, and all six siblings played competitive sports.
From a young age, Keelin fulfilled her role, even if it wasn’t glamorous and went unnoticed.
When you watch these kind of players perform on a daily basis, you realize their invaluable consistent and clean qualities. Hence, why Keelin wore the captain’s armband for the top-ranked University of Portland, the 2008 U-20 U.S National team World Cup champions, and is the current captain for the Seattle Reign.
In her stint with the Wanderers, Keelin has been called upon to play a more attacking role. Last year, she was the team’s leading goal scorer, and this season, has spurred much of the team’s offense.
Keelin founded soccer training organizations Pro-Skills Soccer, is set to join the Reign for her fourth consecutive year, and has aspirations of fire fighting in the near future.
It doesn’t matter where Keelin plays or what she does, she’s simply a competitor who wants to win for her team.
Keelin is an Arrow Liver.
Name: Keelin Winters
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Occupation: professional soccer player, founder of Pro Skills Soccer (http://pro-skillssoccer.com/)
Years at profession: 23 (5 professionally)
What was your first thought when you woke up this morning?
I set my alarm for 5:45 because I had to train a girl early. My first thought was where is the snooze. I snoozed my phone. But I don’t normally.
What is your morning routine?
I have a very particular order, especially here in Australia because I’m living in a camper van. I wake up, put the hot water on to boil, brush my teeth, then I have coffee. I always make the coffee. Paige [her wife] just enjoys it. ThenI have my breakfast. Nine times out of ten it’ll be oatmeal, but I do all the works. You have to dress it up. I add butter, cinnamon, banana. Half milk, half water. And some form of nut on top-like cashew or something. I cook it stove top. You have to cook it stove top.
What did you love most about where you grew up?
We moved around every 2-3 years on average because of my dad’s job [NBA coach and recruiter]. As far as Denver goes, I’d definitely have to say the sunshine. We get over 300 days of sunshine. I took that for granted because I thought everywhere was like that, but then I moved to the Northwest
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Because we moved around so much when I was growing up, I was constantly the new kid. My mom would always tell us “to make a friend, you have to be a friend.” I don’t think she thought it was a powerful thing. At the time, we all kind of rolled our eyes, but it struck a chord for me.
Who is your definition of successful?
I don’t have one person in mind, but I have a basic outline. I think someone who genuinely loves their job and is surrounded by love-whether that’s family or friends.
Why do you do what you do?
Growing up, it was because I just loved soccer, But over the years it’s came to a point where I just really love to compete and be active. I think I’ve always known that I’d never be able to tolerate a desk job. So soccer at the moment has been my answer to not being stuck in an office.
Is this where you thought you’d end up?
Yes and no. Yes in terms of the fact that I knew I wanted to play soccer abroad and Australia was always of interest to me. No because there are dreams that are still unfilled in this point of my life that I thought I would have achieved by now.
How are you different than the average?
I speak my mind. I think the average human, or at least the average American does not. I’m blunt, sometimes to a fault, a lot like my mom. She has no filter whatsoever. I think I’m like her in that sense.
How do you spend your free time?
Definitely being active. Whether it’s going to the gym or out on a hike or here playing in the ocean. Recently, because I don’t have as much work, I’ve been reading a lot.
What’s been your biggest setback?
Not making the national team and losing in the NWSL Championship final two years in a row.
What is your most rewarding accomplishment?
Winning the 2008 Under-20 World Cup is definitely up there.
Other than that, I’d say coming out of rock bottom in 2012. I almost retired because I was overtrained. It made me fall out of love with soccer. Every time I’d go out and play my body would hurt. I was injured, wasn’t playing well, and then I got cut from the national team. Everything went downhill.
But then enter… dunn dunn dunn dunn…Lara Harvey….comes to save the day. I started playing for her. I look back on that 2013 NWSL season and I still wasn’t playing that well because I was trying toclaw my way back from the bottom. It took me a whole 18 months to come back, but I made it. I saw the light.
What do you wish you knew as a kid?
It would be to just appreciate my parents more and not be such an angsty teenager. I often took my anger out on my parents. I also wish I knew to enjoy my parent’s “youth.” People think of children as being youthful because often time parents are “old” in comparison to their children, but they are still so young.
What’s your dream meal and where would you eat this meal?
It would be a Thanksgiving-esque meal. Your oven baked, roasted delicious turkey meat. I love the cranberry, I love the mashed taters, I love the sweet potatoes. I love all of Thanksgiving. It’s like all the best things in life. The dessert would definitely have to be my mother-in-law’s caramel cheesecake bars. They’re amazing. It really wouldn’t matter where I ate it, as long as I was surrounded by my loved ones, obviously, it’s Thanksgiving.
Who are three people you’d ask to dine with you?
I’d want every loved person in my life.
If you could trade lives with one person for an entire day who would it be?
I’d like to travel back in time to the 60’s and 70’s and live in that era with hippies. I don’t have one person in mind, I just think it would be so amazing because that was our parent’s generation. My mom and dad , and Paige’a parents were huge hippies. Paige’s mom and dad talk about going to Jimi Hendrix concerts in Seattle. That would be awesome.
If you could only keep five possessions what would they be?
A good book, a good pair of running shoes. You know what, I love mountain biking so much, a mountain bike. A good pillow-oh yeah that’s clutch, I love a good pillow. And probably a waterproof down jacket. Because there’s nothing worse than being wet and cold.
What skill would you like to learned and why?
Recently, this has been on my mind. I really want to take an orienteering class of some sort. I hate being lost and not knowing where I am on a map. There’s been numerous times where I’m lost and I’d like to be able to look at the ridge line or the sun or the stars, and be like okay I know where I am. That would definitely be a skill that I want soon. Being lost gives me extreme anxiety.
What is your favorite mobile app?
Currently it’s definitely WhatsApp or any similar texting application. I’m currently abroad and like to talk to my family and friends.
For more on Keelin: The Competitive Love Story of The Mashed Potato Mastermind (Keelin Winters)