Q&A with Mallory Swanson: Gatorade Player of the Year, injury rehab, World Cup, and more

AUSTIN, TX - APRIL 8: Mallory Swanson #9 of the United States during a game between Ireland and USWNT at Q2 Stadium on April 8, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by John Todd/USSF/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - APRIL 8: Mallory Swanson #9 of the United States during a game between Ireland and USWNT at Q2 Stadium on April 8, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by John Todd/USSF/Getty Images) /

USWNT star forward, Mallory Swanson teamed up with Gatorade to distribute the 2022-23 Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year to Kennedy Fuller of Southlake Carroll High School. FanSided caught up with Swanson to hear more about the award, her rehab, and her thoughts on the World Cup. 

Since winning the Gatorade Player of the Year in 2015, Chicago Red Stars forward Mallory Swanson has had a whole lot of expectations thrown her way.

She was one of the first to forgo her college career and turn professional in the NWSL. In her first full year on the international stage, Swanson had four goals and seven assists in 17 appearances.

There have been plenty of struggles since then but her attitude has always stayed positive. All the bumps in the road have molded her into the player she is today. The USWNT’s No. 9 knows that the injury she obtained in April against the Republic of Ireland is just part of the journey of a footballer.

Watch our full interview with Mallory Swanson below:

FanSided: You’ve presented the Gatorade Player of the Year Award before in the past. What is that like for you to present and give an award that you’ve won in the past to some young athletes, and people of the next generation?

Mallory Swanson: This was my third time doing it. I feel like every single time is so special because it is like a full-circle kind of moment. It’s just cool seeing and learning first about these young players that are coming up, and then also about the hard work and their achievements. The most special part of it is for me is to see the smile on their face and their team around them. Also, connecting with them and asking them some questions about where their mind is at, so it’s super special for multiple reasons.

Take me back to when you won the award, what was that like? Being able to say you were among all of these legends that have won this award in the past, take me through that.

Swanson: The one thing that stood out to me when I won was all the names on the actual trophy Your name then goes on that trophy too. It is really cool to see your name alongside some of the players that you have looked up to. Then for me, it almost like motivated me even more, to try and achieve my goals and not want to stop or be done with anything.

You and Kennedy, I feel like have a similarity that is like pretty glaring in the fact that she is leaving high school early, and you skipped college to go professional. Do you view yourself as a trailblazer in helping these young athletes? Basically setting the standard to help these people pursue their dreams earlier than they may have had in the past. 

Swanson: I would say Lindsay Horan was the first one to actually go pro. She went over to Europe, and I was the first one to go to the league here. I you could say that or whatever. I’ve always said everyone’s journey is completely different for me. I went to UCLA for like three months, and then there are other girls like Trin (Trinity Rodman). She didn’t go to college, she went straight out of high school. You’re seeing it a lot more, which is great. It’s good for the players if they think that they’re ready to compete against some of the best players in the world. There are always challenges, but stepping outside of your comfort zone is how you grow. It’s definitely something you’re starting to see a lot more, and it’s exciting to see too.

Did you give any advice to Kennedy or anything that you specifically told her?

Swanson: I told her that you just have to work hard. I feel like you hear it all the time. Work hard, and you’ll achieve your dreams or whatever, but it really is true. I was raised in a household where you had to, and if you wanted something, you had to work for it. That’s how I was raised. That’s how the world kind of works. Especially as you work your way up in this league, in this country with women’s soccer, there’s a lot of really special players and a lot of talent out there. So the one thing that can always set you apart is how hard you’re working.

I wanted to transition to you, and your career. What’s going on with you right now, how are you doing post-surgery?

Swanson: I’m doing good. Post-surgery was a little rocky at first. Then I was able to get my feet underneath me. Now it’s basically like taking it day by day and just rehabbing my knee. I’m getting excited to watch the World Cup as well.

You’ve been through a lot of trials and tribulations throughout your career. You had a lot of expectations as a young athlete. How do you think a lot of the past injuries, and those trials helped you prepare to tackle a challenge like this one? 

Swanson: Every single trial that I’ve had, I’ve learned something about myself. That’s the most rewarding thing. Winning games, and performing well is amazing, and everyone wants to win, but there are times when you’re down and you’re working your way out of it. You can almost play a game with yourself. The trial that you’re you’re in, it’s a game and you have to win the trial. That’s kind of how I’ve looked at it. It’s made me a better person. Therefore, it’s made me a better player.

Overall there are a lot of injuries affecting the World Cup team as a whole What is your just take on the injury crisis in women’s sports right now? Especially, ACLs and knee injuries?

Swanson: Honestly, it’s pretty crazy. I don’t even know if this has ever been so many players missing due to injury for the World Cup. I hope that we take it as a learning experience. There is more research to be done and more investment to be put into woman’s anatomy and health within the game. There’s been a lot of research and things that have been done on men’s anatomy and how their bodies move and perform. Getting more investment in an actual women’s soccer player can hopefully prevent some of these injuries.

What did you think of the USWNT World Cup roster when it came out? What do you think about their chances to go three in a row?

Swanson: I’m going say that they’re gonna go three in a row. Those are my girls. I’m just so excited to watch and support. I was told in January when we were in New Zealand that the fan attendance was going to be the highest it’s ever been at a Women’s World Cup. That in itself is exciting. Seeing the growth that’s going to be had after this World Cup too is going to be something I look forward to.

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