Some athletes thrive under pressure. Soccer player Christen Press was one of those athletes.
A member of the women’s U.S. Soccer team and Chicago Red Stars forward, Press said she has consistently used that pressure to become a better player.
But despite her undeniable drive and love for the sport, Press credits her time in Sweden with her unfaltering passion.
Press said it wasn't until she traveled to Sweden to play for the professional club team Goteborg FC in 2012 that her perspective of the sport changed. She had built up so many expectations as to what soccer should be for her prior to playing overseas, but those expectations meant far less once she began her new career.
“When I went to Europe I left all that behind and just played,” Press said.
Her “baggage” built up from 20 years of playing soccer was relieved when she learned to focus more on her love for the game and not take life as seriously as she did before.
“Swedish people live a much more laid back lifestyle,” Press said. “America is more goal-oriented.”
Press went to Europe with an open mind and heart to take in everything that the new experience had to offer her.
“I did enjoy the way people [in Sweden] appreciate each moment, they’re naturally more present and less focused on goals,” Press said.
After playing for three years in Sweden and returning to the United States, Press said she now has a broader understanding that there are multiple ways to live. The experience opened a new door for her in how she approaches each day.
“I think it was interesting timing because when I left [for Sweden] I was really focused to work for national team and I left that dream of playing for national team last Olympics,” Press said.
Press has been playing for the Chicago Red Stars for three years as a forward.
“The league is still very new and I think a lot of franchises have a long way to go just in terms of professionalism and quality resources in order to give players the highest level of professionalism and opportunity,” Press said.
But if there's one things Press said she loves about playing for Chicago, it's that her teammates have so much heart when playing the sport she loves.