As far as pink slips go, this one was golden.
On Jan. 6 of this year, Lindsay Tarpley lost her job as Director of Soccer Operations for the UCLA women’s soccer program. Okay, she was fired. By her husband. But he had to do it.
That day B.J. Snow, Tarpley’s husband of three years, was named the head women’s soccer coach at UCLA, replacing Jill Ellis who left to become U.S. Soccer’s Director of Youth Development. Due to a University of California rule about spouses working together, Tarpley was forced to step aside, but that was just fine with her.
At 33-years-old, and after five years as an assistant coach for the Bruins, her husband had one of the best jobs in college soccer, which started an eventful few weeks for the U.S. veteran.
In mid-January, Tarpley had her strongest U.S. training camp since tearing her ACL playing for the Chicago Red Stars in August of 2009. She then made the roster for the Four Nations Tournament in China, a competition in which she scored her first two international goals in 2004 against Sweden.
“I’m really excited for him,” said Tarpley of her husband, a former star at Indiana who won two NCAA titles during his Hoosier career. “Coaching is his passion and he’s worked extremely hard to get this opportunity. Being around the UCLA program and Jill for five years, it’ll be a seamless transition to continue to build on the success the program has achieved.”
Tarpley is 27 years old and has already had a career that would be the envy of all but a few players in U.S. history. She has earned two Olympic gold medals – scoring in the 2004 gold medal game -- played in a Women’s World Cup and of course famously won the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup with a golden goal against Canada.
Now that she’s regained her confidence, strength and qualities that have helped her earn 120 caps and score 30 goals, she’s not done just yet. And she can credit her former job for helping her return to that high level.
“It’s taken me a while to get back to playing the way I know I can,” said Tarpley, who earned her first cap since her injury on Oct. 6, 2010 vs. China. “I’ve felt myself getting stronger over the last several months and I think now that I’m back fit and feeling good, I see the game a bit differently. Being around the UCLA program and just watching a lot of soccer really helped me.”
Long known for her driven personality, high personal standards and intense training ethic, her injury allowed her to take a step back and reflect on the journey just a bit more.
“Throughout the recovery process I gained a different perspective,” said Tarpley. “I was able to see myself improving and I could appreciate being able to play the game. [Tearing my ACL] was a difficult experience, but I learned and grew a lot. I learned to set smaller goals and being able to appreciate accomplishing them throughout the course of my rehab.”
But when her husband is coaching next fall, she won’t be able to do a thing. She’ll have to sit patiently (if that’s possible) in the stands, maybe eat some popcorn and enjoy the games.
“I’m looking forward to being at the games next fall and cheering him and the team on,” said Tarpley. “I’ll be nervous but I plan to slowly learn the role of being a great coach’s wife.”
The question is: does that include making post-game cookies and Rice Krispies Treats for the players?
“We’ll have to see about that,” said Tarpley. “I’m still working on my baking skills.”