Soccer star Rapinoe’s new memoir, One Life, provides inspiration for all

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In the sixty second minute of the 2019 Women’s World Cup Final, Megan Rapinoe scored the first goal of the game. Rapinoe led the US Women’s National Soccer Team to victory against The Netherlands that day, winning the team’s fourth ever World Cup trophy. Rapinoe was the center of media attention and television audiences around the world. She had every intention of making the best out of being in the spotlight.

The team returned to a warm welcome in the United States. During the ticker tape parade in the national team’s honor, Megan Rapinoe stood on the steps of New York City Hall and gave a speech about how she hoped the people watching her were inspired to change their lives for the better.

“We have to love more, hate less. We listen more and talk less. It’s our responsibility to make this world a better place,” Rapinoe said. “How do you make your community better? How do you make the people around you better? We have to collaborate. It takes everybody. This is my charge to everybody: do what you can.”

In Rapinoe’s new book, One Life, she breaks down the lead-up to this call to action. She reflects on how she grew to realize the importance of standing up for others and using her voice. Filled with stories of soccer, family and advocacy, One Life is a motivating memoir that highlights Rapinoe’s ability to share her platform with all.

The first several chapters focused on Rapinoe’s childhood. Through her stories of growing up in Redding, a conservative California town, it becomes clear that she has never been afraid to be unconventional.

“At the age of five, I announced that I wanted to cut my hair short and wear only boys’ clothes from then on,” Rapinoe said in her book.

Thanks to the support of her family, she was able to make that bold declaration a reality. Rapinoe has always had the confidence to make unique decisions. But only later in life did she figure out how to channel her confident energy into making a difference.

Rapinoe came out publicly as gay in a 2012 interview with Out Magazine. Most of the people in her life knew she was gay, but she decided that coming out to the world was necessary.

“If you’re a prominent athlete, coming out isn’t for yourself but for others.” Rapinoe said. “The more people who come out, the more we break down the stereotypes of what it is to be gay.”

As one of the only members of the team who was out during that time, Rapinoe was comfortable speaking up and being the center of attention. Her decision came right after the 2011 World Cup, when Rapinoe first saw the spotlight.

Since 2011, the U.S. Women’s National Team has only gained popularity and success. After two consecutive World Cup wins in 2015 and 2019, the women have gained international acclaim and recognition. Rapinoe’s platform has also grown tremendously.

The first time Rapinoe had large-scale attention, she took advantage of the moment, using her coming out to attempt to create safer spaces for members of the LGTBQ+ community. Rapinoe also emphasized the importance of standing up for people who don’t identify or look like you.

“Those who are discriminated against shouldn’t have to fight alone, and leaving advocacy to the marginalized group itself—the group most at risk of dismissal or reprisal—is, frankly, outrageous,” she explained in her book.

A lot of the book was spent highlighting the deep problems of racial injustice in the U.S. and several of the times Rapione has taken action on this particular issue. One of her most inspirational actions was in support of football player Colin Kaepernick. After he famously kneeled during the playing of the national anthem before a game to protest racial inequality, Rapinoe followed suit.

“I wanted to broaden the conversation about racial injustice and to support a fellow athlete. And while I hoped I might encourage others to act, if it didn’t, I would continue to do it anyway,” Rapinoe said.

Her motivational and persistent attitude has allowed her to push past anyone who might disagree and continue to stand up for what she knows is right. To this day, Rapinoe is constantly looking for ways to use her popularity to influence others. One can only hope that as she gains recognition, her powerful messages will spread to more people.

“The better you play,” Rapinoe explained, “the more you win, and the bigger your platform becomes.”

For Rapinoe, soccer is not just about being the best or winning world championships. It’s about taking the privileges she has gained from her successes and extending a helping hand to the rest of the world.

Most memoirs from sports stars center the struggle to athletic success, and while Rapinoe talked plenty about her soccer journey, One Life offers inspiration for all kinds of people. The most important message of the book is not about Megan Rapinoe. Rather, it is a call to action; an inspirational reminder to everyone that we must fearlessly attempt to make the world around us better.

“You can share, and help, and be a part of your community, and you can also stand tall and enjoy your success. No caveat, no apology. Arms out wide, claim your space.”