NWSL Feature: Christine Nairn Returns to Seattle for 2017 Campaign
The 2017 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season kicked off last week with nationwide coverage provided by Lifetime highlighting a new era for the growth of women’s soccer.
GoalNation spoke with Christine Nairn of Seattle Reign FC on her season preparation as we present the latest editorial highlighting our professional women’s soccer clubs in the United States.
NWSL Soccer News: Season preparation is a stressful time for athletes that are striving to reach their top form on the pitch. Players must maintain their fitness level as well as be mentally prepared for the long season ahead as they experience setbacks along the way.
This is no exception while at the highest level. Professional soccer players come into training camp with the same goals of accomplishing these expectations prior to season kickoff.
Originally drafted by Seattle in 2013, Nairn spent the past three seasons with the Washington Spirit, which concluded with a 2016 NWSL Championship appearance that fell just short of a title.
As Nairn prepares for the next stage of her career, she believes the ability to live in the moment allows for her to maintain focus while reaching form during preseason. She further highlights the importance of not overthinking during the early season, specifically in terms of mistakes that may just be the process of developing consistency.
“Don’t put too much pressure on yourself,” says Nairn. “So often you see players focus on one specific moment and turn it into a make or break of their season.”
Mistakes are fundamental for gaining experience and composure. Due to the rapid pace of the game, at times the best solution relies on your ability to keep looking forward. Nairn explains that it is beneficial to have quick memory loss in order to move past certain mistakes, but the ability to turn back the clock is also extremely important.
“As athletes, we have to have short memories at times but also have the ability to look back at those mistakes and determine how you can be better next time,” says Nairn.
While preseason can be stressful as you strive to maintain consistency, focusing on the aspects you bring to the squad can help disregard obstacles that are out of your control.
“I just try to remember what my strengths are and play to them,” says Nairn. “You just control what you can — play to your strengths.”
A part of Nairn’s mentality leans on joy for the game, which motivates her to continue to elevate her training schedule.
“There are going to be ups and downs throughout it all,” says Nairn.
But if you genuinely enjoy what you’re doing – I wouldn’t say it’s a sacrifice. Enjoy the moment because you don’t know when it’s going to be your last game.”
On the technical side, Nairn explains that practice is the starting point for a player; however, extra workout is a requirement if you expect to reach that next level.
“It starts with practices and what you do on your own,” says Nairn. “Practice is not always enough – extra bike sessions or touches on the ball are always helpful. It doesn’t seem like we are doing extra work because we enjoy what we do out here.”
During this process, the physical demands will push your body to the limit. Cool down and recovery should remain a vital part of your training schedule during the entire season. Nairn addresses the importance of developing a fitness regimen that fits your personal physique in order to contest any hurdles you may come across.
“I would highly recommend people just figuring out their diet and what they physically need to get ready for the next performance,” says Nairn. “What might work for me might not work for another player. You really have to find out what works for you and keep doing it until you find something better.”
The 2017 NWSL Season is going to be an exciting year for Nairn as she embraces the return to her former club. She views the adventure ahead as an opportunity to continue her growth as a player with a soccer organization that is dedicated to success.
“It was really easy to come back to a program that was very up front with me,” says Nairn. “They’re great people and fun to be around. I think for the next part of my career as I continue to challenge myself — what better team than Seattle?”
Although Nairn is renewing her presence at the club, there is a common respect between Seattle’s teammates as they come together. She notes that the squad is extremely inclusive, which is a necessity if you are to achieve success on the pitch.
“At Seattle, everyone has a voice and can provide her input,” says Nairn. “That’s how we’re going to get the best results, by listening to everyone.”
In addition to the players in full throttle ahead of their season opener, Nairn recognizes head coach Laura Harvey as providing the most inspiration thus far.
“The girls are all super excited to be back,” says Nairn. “I think Laura is the most excited.”
Harvey’s inspiration is not going unnoticed as Nairn and her teammates strive to replicate her drive.
“That’s something that’s super special,” says Nairn. “It makes us want to work hard for the person to the left and right of one another.”
During the first two weeks, Harvey took a hands-off approach as the new squad returns to the pitch. Nairn believes this method has allowed for the team to become acquainted with one another before getting into the specific tactics Seattle will be equipped with.
On the NWSL stage, the 26-year-old enters the season with optimism due to teams reloading for the upcoming campaign.
“This is an interesting year,” says Nairn. “I feel like a lot of teams shuffled some players, and you’re going to see some new faces out of college. I’m excited for season five.”
Among the 25-player preseason roster includes forward Megan Rapinoe and 2016 Defender of the Year Lauren Barnes.
The Washington club also returns forward Beverly Yanez who recorded three goals and three assists last season as well as midfielder Jessica Fishlock who led Seattle with four assists.
Manon Melis, Seattle’s leading goal scorer in 2016, hung up her cleats following the conclusion of last season. A native of Rotterdam, Netherlands, Melis notched seven goals and two assists in her final season at the professional ranks.
The upcoming season will be demanding of Seattle Reign FC, but this is a task Nairn and her teammates are prepared for given the level of the NWSL.
“That’s the great thing about the NWSL,” says Nairn. “No game is an easy game.”