Seattle Reign FC return to action this Saturday, hosting the Western New York Flash. We all know what happened last weekend, so we’ll leave it at that (Seattle is still under a league-mandated media blackout regarding last Saturday’s match). After this morning’s training session, I sat down and had a chat with midfielder Jess Fishlock about the season so far, her closing thoughts on Wales’ run in Euro 2016, the FAWSL moving to a traditional European calendar, being in the NWSL from the beginning, and more. Here are some excerpts from the chat.
On Wales’ run in Euro 2016:
"I’m just really proud of them to be honest. What they did was sensational. They didn’t just beat average teams, they beat some pretty great teams. They won four of their games, they didn’t just go for draws. They were just great. They were a joy to watch and a revelation to the football international stage. It’s nice to be Welsh right now — I mean it’s always nice to be Welsh, but it’s especially nice to be Welsh right now because I think the whole world is seeing what we’re about."
It should be noted that Fishlock attributed Aaron Ramsey’s Best XI performance throughout the tournament to changing his hair to platinum blonde.
On opposing defenses compressing against the Reign this season:
It’s interesting for us because I think, us more than any other team, teams change the way they play. They think more, they defend more, they don’t want to open up space. They don’t necessarily do that against each other. I watch some games played against each other and I’m like, ‘Why don’t you play like that that against us? Why don’t you open it up and try and play and be expansive?’ But I also understand that it’s dangerous to do that against us and they’ve found that out over the last few years and have come up with a different way. It’s a way we’re still struggling with and trying to figure out.
On her aggressive rehab from the fractured tibia and doubts of it not working:
There was doubt. Of course there was doubt, I was leaving a perfectly good base and leaving the team. It wasn’t something I really wanted to do to be honest. I didn’t want to leave the girls, I didn’t want to leave the team. But I had to weigh up what was best for me and my rehabilitation at the time. Getting to Australia was a difficult thing — I was on crutches, couldn’t walk, had to fly 24 hours, had to make sure I had ice on the airplane. It wasn’t an easy situation. But I knew as soon I got there, with the facilities that I had and the one-on-one rehabilitation I had, it was the best thing for me.
Fishlock continues on to mention that she lost a lot of muscle mass, but the aggressive rehab she took allowed her to get back as soon as she did, much to our amazement. So contrary to the myth, dragons do lose muscle if they’re not active for some time.
On teammate Keelin Winters’ comments in Excelle Sports about the state of the league and going forward to reach "NWSL 2.0." (Part one is here, part two is here):
We all want the same thing. We all do want better working environments, better standards across the board. You can’t just have one club or a couple of clubs doing great things and then other clubs really not so much doing great things at all. Obviously wages come with that, but in order for wages to come, you need other things before that. We’re not stupid, you can’t just say, ‘We want loads of money,’ but we’re not producing money.
We can want bigger wages, but in saying that, the absolute minimum salary of this league has to improve. And it has to keep growing. And you can’t just grow the league and expanding the teams but keeping everything else the same.
Fishlock continues with this quote in talking about adjustments that should be made with regards to where a player in the NWSL is, citing the cost of living in Seattle for anyone in general is higher than someone living in Kansas City — yet the allowance is the same across the board. Fishlock’s comments on this are a must-listen and echo what Winters said for Excelle Sports.
Being that Fishlock has been here since the inaugural season in 2013 and is fittingly one of the "Reign Originals," I asked for her thoughts on coming to Seattle, if it’s been one of the best decisions she’s made for her professional life as well as personal life. Here’s what she had to say:
Without a doubt. Best decision and best impact in my life that I’ve ever had. It’s also made me able to try out different things. Able to try out Australia, try out Frankfurt and Champions League. There’s so much it’s enabled for me to do. This for sure is probably more of my home than I have ever felt. It’s not just about the league, it’s about Seattle. It’s an unbelievable place, the owners of the club are unbelievable. There’s just something about this place that is special, and I don’t think I can leave without winning a championship.
How can you not love that quote from Fishlock? Obviously Seattle Reign fans are reading/listening to Fishlock’s words and likely overcome with emotion, but for any Seattle sports fan, it’s a quote you just eat up and savor every bit of it. While it should never be an expectation, it’s always nice when we see a professional athlete being significantly impacted by where they work. You won’t find many Reign fans that would dispute the idea that Jess Fishlock is the heart and soul of the team, and the way she expresses her love for Seattle is just something special.
At the conclusion of our chat, Fishlock had one simple message for anyone going to Saturday night’s match.
"Bring some noise. Bring. Some. Noise."
Seattle Reign FC host Western New York Flash at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, July 16 with a 7 PM kick-off.
The full interview is below for your listening pleasure.