Kate Markgraf has played at every level of women’s soccer in the world. She played collegiately at the University of Notre Dame, where she was a 3-time All Big East selection, the 1997 Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and the Defensive MVP of the 1995 Notre Dame NCAA National Championship team.
Representing the United States with the Women’s National Team, Markgraf played in 3 Olympic Games and 3 Women’s World Cups, where she won a silver medal (2000), 2 gold medals (2004, 2008), one World Cup Championship (1999), and two third place World Cup finishes (2003, 2007). She is one of only 10 female players ever in the world to earn 200 caps for her national team.
Professionally, Margraf played in the WUSA for the Boston Breakers and Chicago Red Stars, and in Sweden for KIF Obrero. Currently, beyond being a coach at FC Wisconsin Eclipse, Markgraf is a color commentator for ESPN, and will be working as an analyst during the 2012 London Olympics.
You have played and been tremendously successful at every level of soccer in the world. If you had to pick 1-2 things that helped you most in obtaining these accomplishments, what would they be?
"The biggest one is to train when no one is watching. My sanctuary, my thing to do when I was bored, and my habit was to go and find the ball and train by myself. I would use a 2 foot wall, my garage and then I put up a net and would just play. Playing composed was always an issue for me. It got better the more I did it."
What was your favorite part of playing soccer (collegiately)? Was it the same when playing professionally or with the national team?
"My favorite part of playing collegiate soccer was the camaraderie with my teammates. I had so much fun with my friends and when times are tough, it’s my soccer friends from Notre Dame that I turn to. Teammates see you at your best and your worst. The ones that stick by you in both are the keepers. Professionally it was about reaching my goals and trying to achieve my potential in the most competitive environment in the world. It was challenging but personally rewarding. Both experiences (collegiately and professionally) were equally impactful, but in different ways."
What do you think are the most important parts of being a captain and leader for your team?
"I think just being who you are is the most important thing. I was very vocal - sometimes overly so - but it is who I was and that is the only way I knew how to be. If you start doubting yourself, how can you tell others to believe in themselves when you are trying to motivate them?"
How do you think your experience in soccer (at any level) helped you the most?
"Sport is a character builder. It tests every part of you and sometimes you rise up to the challenge and sometimes you fail miserably. I took confidence from the good and used the failures as things to learn from. Those experiences taught me that you can’t get too high or too low in those moments because then your whole life is based on the outcome - and that isn’t healthy, happy or productive. It took a long time, but I enjoyed the process and learned, through sport, that even when I fail, it’s an opportunity to reassess and refine whatever factor contributed to the ’failure’."
What is the best piece of advice you wish someone had given you while you were a youth player?
"Chill out! What always impeded my performance was all this anxiety: was I good enough? Do I suck if I don’t do it perfectly? Did my teammates think I was good? It’s finding that balance - the desire to be my best in training, but then in the game, that’s the time to stop thinking and enjoy."