USWNT players Sophia Smith and Naomi Girma say they will be thinking of their late college teammate, Katie Meyer, as they kick off their World Cup campaign in New Zealand later this week.
Meyer played alongside Smith and Girma on the Stanford team that won a national college title in 2019. She took her own life last year at the age of 22.
On Tuesday, Girma wrote a tribute to Meyer in The Players Tribune. She described Meyer as the “truest friend I ever had. The most unapologetic, positive, caring person in the world.”
Girma added that she and her teammates have partnered with the charity Common Goal to highlight mental health during the World Cup.
“We don’t want this to end simply at awareness,” she wrote. “We want to make sure that young people have the tools to cope with depression, anxiety, stress, and the very bad days, when it feels like the weight of the world is on their shoulders, and it can never get better.”
Smith spoke to reporters on Wednesday and said she is still affected by Meyer’s death.
“Anytime I talk about Katie, it’s obviously emotional, and then just with everything coming out today, it kind of brings all those feelings back to the surface,” Smith said. “But I feel like I’m in a place where I can talk about it and talk about Katie in a really positive light, and it brings me more happiness.
“But obviously, yeah, anytime it’s all over social media, it’s tough to see, and it kind of just reminds you. But I think what we put out and The Players Tribune by Naomi, it was really cool and really good to read, and everything that we do is now for Katie, so it means a lot. But yeah, obviously, it’s a tough thing to talk about.”
The forward added that she has taken steps in her own life to improve her mental health.
“For me, deleting Twitter, the best thing I’ve ever done,” Smith said. “No idea what’s happening. But I think just kind of balancing; we did all these shoots and partnerships and stuff months ago, and it’s all coming out now, and it’s a lot and it’s like something new every day. So trying to just push that aside and focus on what we are here to do, and that’s to play soccer in one World Cup, and just finding that balance I think is super important.”