Soccer legends Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris always planned for parenthood, but they didn’t expect to score their dream so soon. Here, they chat with E! about their littlest teammate’s big impact.
You’re probably picturing it now: A suburban mom shuttling a whole pack of kids around in her minivan, reminding Molly to please eat a snack before practice and, Timmy, you can’t forget your shin guards again.
Ah, the soccer mom. It’s a trope we all know and love. It just doesn’t define these soccer moms.
Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris—FIFA World Cup champs and current Orlando Pride superstars—announced in February that they had welcomed daughter Sloane Phillips into their world through adoption. It was a moment they always planned for, but they hadn’t expected to score their wildest dream quite so soon.
After friends advised that the process could take years, Ali and Ashlyn—partnering with Hertz to celebrate their first Mother’s Day—decided to get the ball rolling in 2020. “COVID hit and we were without sports and without a lot of things,” Ashlyn tells E! News in a joint interview with her wife. “We were like, ‘Let’s just start now. We have nothing to do. Let’s get the paperwork in.'” After all, as Ali puts it, “By this time in three years, we might be retired!”
Three weeks—and not three years—later, Sloane’s birth mother called the adoption agency looking for a female, same-sex couple. Scanning through the athletes’ profile—”It was very little about soccer. We put in us as people,” says Ali—she immediately felt the warmth and kindness fans experience scrolling through their Instagrams. The same undeniable love and passion that resonates off them during our Zoom call.
It was, perhaps, the easiest choice of this woman’s life. “She said, ‘You deserve a daughter,'” remembers Ashlyn. Chimes in Ali, “‘You deserve happiness.’ She told us she knows how hard it is for same-sex couples to have children and that she wanted this for us. She thought Sloane would fit perfectly into our lives.”
After Ali and Ashlyn laid eyes on their newest teammate Sloane Phillips—her middle name honors Ashlyn’s late grandmother—they experienced an overwhelming sense of completeness. “It’s a feeling you can’t describe,” says Ali. “I understand why moms will do anything for their children. Everyone says, ‘You’ll understand one day when you have a child,’ and now we do.”
Initially, she’d been anxious about getting into the motherhood game, worried she didn’t fit the maternal stereotype. “I’m not the most affectionate person in the world and Ash can attest to that, but I have been surprised at how much I’m capable of loving someone,” the 36-year-old admits. “I love Ashlyn to the ends of the earth, and Sloane, I just feel like we both love her so, so incredibly much. It’s so nice to feel that because through adoption, you never really know how you’re going to feel. This is me just being vulnerable. Giving birth to your own child is probably going to be a lot different. But Sloane, I am overly in love with her.”
That overpowering sense of affection makes the sleep deprivation, the guilt—”I struggle a little bit with wanting to be the best player in the world but also be the best mom in the world,” Ali shares—and the lack of autonomy totally worth it. Forget vacations and lazy mornings in bed. Right now, all they crave is more time with Sloane.
“If anyone knows anything about us two it’s that we’re so competitive,” Ashlyn says with a laugh. “It’s to the point we both want to be so hands-on. We’re like, ‘You’ve had her for three hours’ or ‘You got her last’ and we’re kind of fighting. We’re just really trying to do the best we can.”
That also means remembering to go easy on themselves and accepting the fact that there will be s–tty days. “Ali and I are learning it’s OK to ask for help,” the 35-year-old tells E!. “We have a community who are just always checking in and encouraging us milestone after milestone. We know we’re not in this alone and we have this force of people around us just continuing to motivate us and lift us when we need it.”
It does take a village—and, arguably, none is mightier than theirs. With aunties like Megan Rapinoe, Sydney Leroux and Alex Morgan, Sloane “has strong females around her that show she can do absolutely anything she wants,” raves Ashlyn. “The greatest gift of our friend group is they challenge us, and I know they are going to challenge Sloane and hold her accountable. There are so many things she’s going to learn from these incredible women.”
And, ahem, the two right at home. In between grueling soccer games and the never-ending exhaustion of parenthood, Ali and Ashlyn have dedicated their lives to fighting for equality and setting a positive example for LGBTQ+ youth.
Though they’ve been together for a decade, “we didn’t use to post a lot of our relationship online and now, looking back, I’m like, I wish I would have done it sooner because I think it’s really important for young kids to see,” says Ali. “I remember going to an appearance and a young girl told her two moms, ‘Hey, she’s just like our family.’ That brought a tear to my eye because we are doing the right thing and making an impact.”
It’s why they seek out partners like Hertz, a brand celebrating their love story this Mother’s Day (and every day) with a memorable wrapped car for their trip to the beach with Sloane. “As a child, I didn’t have these things. I didn’t open a magazine or see on billboards people like me,” Ashlyn says. “Now we get to show families that same-sex couples can build beautiful families with so much love and joy and happiness. It just sometimes needs to be seen to be real.”
They’re kicking out that tired notion of the minivan-driving, orange-slice wielding soccer mom as well. Now, explains Ali, “Soccer mom means a badass female who is good at what she does. It means you’re able to let go of that guilt and be really good at what you do. That’s going to inspire Sloane when she gets older to say, ‘I can do what I love.'”
After all, that’s what her parents have been doing for decades, collecting world championship titles, keys to New York City and invitations to the White House along the way. Still, nothing compares to the gig they started just a few months ago. Mom, says Ashlyn, is “the best job title I’ve ever had.”