Going pro in sports takes a certain mindset shift. In a lot of ways, you’re no longer playing for yourself; you’re representing a country and its collective aspirations. How do you overcome self-doubt and put out your best out there? In this EPIC Athletes segment, Zander explores what it takes to be a world-class athlete with Angelina Anderson, professional goalkeeper for Angel City FC of the National Women’s Soccer League. In this captivating conversation, Angelia shares her journey to being one of the top female goalies in the world. Hear what it is like to play on the U17 and U 20 National teams in the World Cup. Join in!

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EPIC Athletes: What It Takes To Be A World-Class Athlete With Top Female Goalie, Angeliana Anderson

I am ever so honored to welcome Angelina Anderson to the show. This is part of my Epic Athletes series. A little background. Angelina Anderson is a goalkeeper for the Angel City FC National Women’s Soccer League Club. She had an epically awesome rookie year, so much so that she got to start in their playoff. Incredible. Angelina, welcome. I’m so excited that you could be here.

Thank you, Zander. I’m excited to be here, too. I’m so glad that we get to chat.

I’m very excited. I’ve been thinking about this for years. I’ve known Angelina for many years. I watched her play soccer through high school and into college. I have yet to make it to a live game to watch it professionally. I watched her on the old TV and enjoyed that. Angelina, truly, it has been an epic journey for you, but when did you start playing soccer and how did you get to play goalie?

“The Goalkeeper Life Chose Me”

I think I started playing soccer around the age of seven, which, honestly, most girls you talk to who are professional now are like, ‘’I picked up a ball when I was three. I was juggling around the house.” I feel like I started a little bit later than most people I talked to at this level. Honestly, I think it was one of those things where my mom talked to one of the moms in the neighborhood and said, “Angelina should try soccer.” At that point, my mom was like, “Soccer? Angelina rides horses. She’s a gymnast.” I was doing everything but soccer. One day, I think that idea got planted in my mom’s head and it was the age where your kids are trying out everything and seeing what sticks.

I guess it stuck. I liked it. My dad was my first coach, so I’m surprised I stuck with it after him. I’m kidding. I stuck with it. I was actually a center defender during my childhood years. I like to say that the goalkeeping position found me. It chose me. I didn’t necessarily choose it. I think to be a goalkeeper, you got to be a little crazy, like there’s a screw loose in there. That’s why I think that the goalkeeper life chose me. I want to say I was like maybe 12 or so. I’m 11 or 12 and I was on the second team at my club at the time, so the silver team.


EPIC Begins With 1 Step Forward | Angelina Anderson | Top Female Goalie


The gold team needed a goalkeeper to go with them to the Surf Cup tournament, which was the biggest youth tournament in soccer. They asked me. They were like, “Would you want to come and join the gold team for the Surf Cup? You’d have to be our goalkeeper, but you’re athletic, you’re tall, you play basketball. You could probably catch a ball. Do you want to join the gold team and come to the Surf Cup?” I was like, “Yeah, I want to go to Surf Cup.” From that moment forward, I was locked into the keeper life and yeah, it’s so interesting because when I was that young, I never thought that it was like, “All right, I’m locking into being a goalkeeper now.” That was how it all started.

Certainly, you’ve locked into it and it’s an epic journey for you. Angelina, what was it like to attend the University of California, Berkeley, or Cal as we know it? What was it like the first time you stepped onto that Cal soccer field as the starting goalkeeper?

That’s taking me back. I guess I haven’t even thought about what that memory first felt like. I think coming into college, I was lucky to have had national team experience beforehand, which I think almost gave me a precursor to what college and even the professional game is like because I had to be a professional at an early age when I was in with the national team. I think that helped me make the transition into college, which impacts your performance on the field way more than you would ever understand.

Honestly, I was excited about being able to make an impact as a freshman. At that point, I was like, “I’m on the field, so let’s do this. Let’s do the best we can.” I don’t think I could have ever expected that my freshman year would’ve gone the way it did. All I can remember from that first moment is feeling excited that I even got the chance as a freshman. It seems daunting or unheard of. Once I was there, I felt like, “Here’s my moment.”

You referenced this, but of course, your modesty, perhaps you won’t say. U-17 and U-20, you played in some World Cups. Am I correct?

Yeah, you’re correct. I played and captained in the U-17 World Cup with the national team. It was such a cool experience in Uruguay. We didn’t make it out of the group stage, but it was incredible. I don’t even think I realized then what that opportunity was. What a cool thing to have said that I’ve done and have the confidence to do something like that before.

I also went to the U-20 World Cup in France. I think I was eighteen at that point, so I was playing up with a lot of the older girls. Also, again, I can’t describe how incredible of an opportunity it was, especially at such a young age, to be able to travel the world and play on these big stages. It’s so cool. I’m grateful for that and I miss those times. I’m excited, hopefully, to be back in with the national team at some point in the future.

Into The National Team

I was going to ask what’s up with the national team with COVID and stuff, but I believe being good friends with your father and him perhaps telling a story or two, you’ve actually gotten to practice with the national team because you were both there and they asked you to come to a practice. Do I remember it correctly that you’ve been shot at by the national team?

Some of them, yes. Not all of them were there, but it was like a joined camp when I was with the youth team. I did get to play to train with some of the current goalkeepers, which was cool. That was a while ago. At that point, they were already pros and I guess I didn’t know how or if I stacked up against them, you know? Now, we’re playing in the same league. Cool opportunities, like I said, being a young person and having those chances.

What has to be an epic moment for you is when you heard your name called in the draft. Can you share with us what that evening was like? I imagine you were pretty nervous. I think you were pretty sure someone would call your name. You’re not sure who.

Honestly, I was so nervous. Let me start from the beginning. From the moment I even decided to enter the draft because I didn’t know 100%. I was like, “Do I want to go be a professional soccer player? Do I want to lock into this? Do I want to stay in school for another year? Do I want to continue studying at a higher level? Do I want to play soccer at all?” I don’t even know. I’m an overthinker and like to turn over every stone before making a decision.

As I was turning those stones, I was like, “If I don’t try this, I’m going to regret it.” Once I made that decision, I went in full force. By the time the draft came around, I was nervous. I had been to a few goalkeeper combine things where professional goalkeeper coaches had been able to see me train and meet me and stuff. Still, you never know what’s going to happen on draft day. I did know that Angel City was significantly interested in me. I had a good relationship with the coach at the time and he called me right before the pick was about to go in. He was like, “We’re going to draft you next.”

It was funny. We had my laptop set up to record our setup with all my family watching the TV. The coach, his name is Dan, was calling me to tell me and he was Facetiming me and it came up on my laptop and I wasn’t looking at my phone. I was too nervous. It came up on my laptop and my boyfriend Steven was like, Angelina. Where is your phone? Go pick up your phone. Dan’s calling you.” I almost missed the call, but I got it probably on the last ring.

He told me they were going to draft me. It sounds cheesy, but I think hearing my name called was surreal. It also reaffirmed that I made the right choice because I was overjoyed. I was so excited and I felt obviously relieved, but I felt like in my gut, I felt this was the right decision and I’m happy that I took this chance. It gave me that little confidence like, “Yes, you made the right choice,” which made me even more ready to go and excited. Of course, then my family’s going crazy. My dad jumps on me. He is like, “We’re going to LA.” I should send you that video. It’s hilarious.

I’d love to see the video. Here you are in your rookie year. Obviously, a very experienced goalkeeper is the starting goalkeeper for Angel City, but you have to start a game. Here’s my question. I can only imagine. If I’m honest, the thought of a stadium full of people excited for me to be there is the wow. Yes, totally.

For you, you obviously have played on the world stages. You said Uruguay might like soccer a little. I’m going to guess at full stadiums, but here you are in the Angel City Stadium. It’s a home game. I believe if it’s not sold out, it’s close to sold out. There are quite a few people there. What was it like for you when they called your name as a starter and you’re going out to the box?

At that point, I was calm. I was ready. In the hours before, the night before, this is always how I am. I get nervous. I get anxious and it continues to build. My routine basically before a game takes me out of that. By the time I’m warming up, I am super confident, super calm. I have nothing but positive thoughts going through my head, no self-doubt, none of that. By the time it’s time to take the field, I’m like, “This is what I do.” I felt so almost eerily calm my first game. I think having the prior experiences definitely helped but even having experienced everything that I had, this was on a different level for me. I had never played in front of 22,000 people. It was my first professional match. It was the first time my games were broadcast everywhere. It was a completely different scenario.

How do you feel you did in that game?

I think it went pretty well.

You blocked a penalty.

I’d say it went pretty well.

Folks, it went epically. That’s all I’m going to say.

I will say I couldn’t have even drawn it up that way. My first start as a pro saving a PK, getting player of the match and we won, too, which is always a great thing. I seriously don’t think I could have drawn it up any better.

The Ebbs And Flows Of Being A Pro Athlete

I’ve had you talk ad nauseam about your playing. For the readers, what can you share about the good and the bad of being a professional athlete?

There’s definitely good and bad, ebbs and flows. I think that’s the best way to put it, honestly. It ebbs and flows, whether mentally, physically, emotionally or all of it. I think I learned that my rookie year because I didn’t know what to expect. I came in with no expectations. I think that was a healthy way to come into a new challenge.


Being a professional athlete has its ebbs and flows.


Obviously, people see the highlights. People see when you make mistakes. People see the 22,000 fans watching you when you make those big saves, when you save the game PK, when you get the player of the match and all that stuff. I think what gets lost sometimes is that’s one moment out of the 99 moments of the grind, tears after training, feeling emotionally beat, your body’s beat down.

All of that is what we deal with on a day-to-day. Moments like that, or even moments in training or moments with your team that are that epic make it worth it. I think that was something I learned. I’ve always heard other professional athletes say, “You’ve got to learn to enjoy the grind. I never knew what that meant until I experienced it because it’s all a part of the process. Even the bad days, everything. I would say learning how to enjoy the grind has been a challenge as a young pro.

I would imagine that. Obviously, it’s on a bigger stage. There are more expectations. Even at Cal, you were balancing schoolwork and practice, but when you’re a pro, your job is obviously to play soccer. That’s different than, “I’ve got three hours of practice, but the rest of the time, I’m going to school and stuff.” I know you finished school while you were in training camp and stuff like that. Congratulations to you because that’s no small feat.

Overcoming Self-Doubt

Yeah, absolutely enjoy the grind because no matter what your job is, you do have those sterling moments, but behind the scenes, there’s a heck of a lot of work that goes into it. I would imagine there are a lot of times of self-doubt where it’s you and two other incredibly talented goalkeepers. Just because you had a great game yesterday, what are you doing today? Am I right about that?

EPIC Begins With 1 Step Forward | Angelina Anderson | Top Female Goalie

You’re absolutely right. I think in any position of any sport, in any position in life, you’re going to have that self-doubt. I think from my personal experience of being a goalkeeper, it’s almost exemplified more in our day-to-day because of the nature of our position. It’s so much more failure than it is success. Especially in a game, if you make one mistake, you could lose the game for your team.

I think it’s like learning how to deal with that self-doubt in an environment where you are failing a lot to get better. Obviously, failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It makes us better, but that’s been tough for sure. I think goalkeepers have to be resilient in that fact and figure out a way to overcome that self-doubt and be confident even in moments of failure in training and things like that.


Failure isn’t necessarily a bad bhing. It makes us better.


In my book, EPIC Begins With One Step Forward, one of the things that I like is these two words. Not yet. I think there’s so much hope and optimism in it. Here’s my question for you, Angelina. What’s 1 or 2 of your not yets?

That’s a great way of putting things, by the way. Not yet. I’m going to start incorporating that more. I think one of my not yets is solidifying my spot in the NWSL as a starting goalkeeper who’s there to stay. As you said, I had one good game. I had a few good games before. Okay. What’s next? Solidifying that for me is something that I have not yet done. That’s on my horizon.

Another thing that’s very soccer-related is that you could use it not yet in every aspect of your life, but in regards to soccer, I am not yet on the full women’s national team. That’s a goal of mine. Especially now that I’ve had a year in the league and played against the women on that team, I know that that’s something in my wheelhouse. I’m not yet there and I’m excited for that opportunity, for sure.

I would say I think that you do have a great chance and I am hopeful that you are our country’s goalkeeper. Maybe one of your not yets is standing on, again, not to denigrate the U-17 and stuff, but I’ll say the full World Cup soccer. Yes, I do encourage you. Not yet is so wonderful because it says it’s happening. I haven’t done it right now, but I am working on it.

It’s in the works.

Obviously, you don’t know. There are a lot of great goalkeepers here in the United States now. Of course, I’ve known you and perhaps I’m a little biased, but I think you got a good chance, Angeline.

Thank you. I appreciate that.

If we happen to have some young ladies who are soccer players and stuff, what is 1 or 2 pieces of advice now that you wish someone would’ve told you when you were 13 or 9 or whatever?

I think something that I had to figure out on my own and that I would try to tell young girls now is there’s such a power in self-belief in this innate belief system in yourself. Getting that belief and that validation from external sources is great at times. It can be motivating, but I think to be your best self and hit the standards you set for yourself, you have to have this innate belief in yourself that you can do it and you will do it.


EPIC Begins With 1 Step Forward | Angelina Anderson | Top Female Goalie


I don’t know exactly what the step-by-step is to develop that. If you can love yourself, you can, but it’s not about that. It’s about believing that you can do it and that you will do it. I think even when times get hard, I’ve always had that in me from a young age, and this intrinsic inspiration has kept me motivated. I would say work on developing that inner self-belief and inner self-confidence.

Would you phrase it like this? Believing yourself unfailingly.

Yes, absolutely. That’s a great way to put it.

Soccer obviously has been and is your life at this moment, but at some point, no matter how awesome we are, sometimes we have to say, “That was fabulous, but now there’s something new.” Looking way into the future here, what do you want to do after soccer?

Honestly, like you said, way in the future, I am crossing bridges as I have to at the moment. As you said, I went to Cal. I love school. I am a bit of a nerd. I love psychology. I majored in Psychology, specifically the neuro side of psychology. I think one of my biggest dreams, besides all the soccer-related things, would be to pursue a career in that. I think that would make me fulfilled. I don’t know exactly what that looks like for me yet, but I can definitely envision myself getting into that field. I’m always going to need that intellectual stimulation. I was actually talking about it. I was like, “I miss school, honestly.” I miss being intellectually stimulated like that and learning from some of the best professors ever at Berkeley. I think that’s definitely going to be something that I need later on.

Obviously, right now, your eye on the prize is soccer and that’s great. Obviously, majoring in Psychology, I’m a little biased, and so did I. I’m a licensed mental health professional, so I’m like, “Absolutely. I think it’s great.” It has been so exciting to watch you play. I got to watch you play in college and now professionally, I saw highlights of you on the national team in the U-17 and watched you march out with the U-20s. I believe you were in France, that I was like, “I know who that is.”

I’m a little fanboy. It’s cool. Honestly, it’s been so exciting as a fan to say, “I know that person and they actually know who I am.” They’re not like, “I think I saw you.” That’s been cool. I don’t know that I have anything more. We talked about your awesome epic career. I want to say to my audience, at the end of my show, I say all the time that epic choices lead to the epic life we want. Angelina is a great example of someone making some epic choices and truly living an epic life.

Thank you. I appreciate that. I would second that. I think it is all about choices and that can mean a variety of things, but I do think it’s about the choices you make in every area of your life.

Having a dream and saying, “I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’m still going to take one step forward towards my goal each and every day.” Angelina, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to come and talk with me and with my audience. I wish you nothing but the best of luck. I look forward to watching you and your career accelerate. I hope that you have a healthy year.

Thank you, Zander. I was excited to do this and it did not let me down. I had a lot of fun and I hope all your readers enjoyed. That was epic.

Thank you. Everyone, remember that there are more episodes coming and as always, epic choices lead to the epic life we want.


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About Angelina Anderson

EPIC Begins With 1 Step Forward | Angelina Anderson | Top Female GoalieAngelina Anderson is a 22 year old professional soccer player for Angel City FC in the National Women’s Soccer League. Anderson is originally from Danville, CA and attended college at The University of California, Berkeley, where she was a 4 year starter on the women’s soccer team and graduated with a degree in psychology. Off the field, Angelina enjoys spending time outside, cooking, and hanging out with her friends and family.