Becoming an Olympic athlete isn’t something that happens overnight — it requires years of dedication, proper training, focused nutrition and hydration goals, and of course that penchant for training and determination that separates the average from the elite. Enter Allie Long. The 33-year-old soccer star, who plays midfielder professionally for the OL Reign and the U.S. women’s national team, has spent years working hard to achieve top accolades for her performance on the field. Long made the 2016 Olympic team, but she fell just short of snagging a spot on the 2021 shortlist.
Despite the setbacks, she continues to work hard at whatever she’s doing — namely controlling the ball on the field, naturally. The midfielder and ZonePerfect spokeswoman took some time to video-chat with Oxygen about her sport, how she keeps her energy levels up, and how she propels forward after a less-than-ideal setback that anyone — athlete or otherwise — can definitely relate to.
On her on-field evolution:
“Growing up, I always played forward. I wanted to be like Mia Hamm. I loved scoring — that was something that I just loved to do. And then as I got older, I was made more into a defensive midfielder role. And now as the game has evolved, it’s more of a quarterback-type position and I always want to be on the ball. I love to set the attack up, but I’m always so jealous of what the end product is and who’s actually on the end of it. But my first responsibility is setting the play, defensively keeping my team protected in a sense. I protect the back line — I love that role. I study it.”
On always loving the game:
“Playing soccer for the U.S. is such an honor — it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little girl. I never saw another option; it’s something that I’ve just chased my whole life.”
On managing playing for two teams at once:
“When I’m with the Reign, I’m with the Reign. I’m fully prepared, and I’m engaged in what we’re doing. And every single training session, although I’m training with the Reign, I’m also knowing that I’m getting better every single day for the U.S. women’s national team. I try to separate them, but also they do go together a lot.”
On keeping her nutrition in check:
“I always have a ZonePerfect bar in my bag. Even if I’m not hungry, I just throw it in there so that no matter what, if I feel like I need it — like on an airplane since I travel so much — it’s the perfect snack that will fuel me and enable me to get through the next whatever it is. Plus, they’re not only easy and convenient — they have this perfect texture where they don’t crumble in your mouth. Honestly, I crave them!”
On staying focused:
“I try to be fully present with each team that I’m with and not look too far into the future. And regardless of what team I’m stepping on the field with, trying to get better every single day is my goal.”
On overcoming loss:
“Losing [on a world stage has been] devastating. I’d never experienced loss at that level before. So ever since then, I always ask myself, ‘What do I need to do to be my best for this moment so that we never get in a situation where we’re not fighting for the win?’”