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Crystal Thomas Q & A


This week we have another special interview for you! We interviewed Crystal Thomas, a professional player for the Washington Spirit. Crystal hails from Elgin, IL, and played with Sockers FC one of the top youth clubs in the nation. She also represented Illinois and Region II’s ODP teams. Crystal then went on to have an illustrious collegiate career with Notre Dame and Georgetown, while making appearances for the U20 and U23 US Women's National Teams. 


Since graduation, Crystal signed with the Spirit initially but moved on to play in Norway, Iceland, and Australia before re-signing with the Spirit.


As well as being immensely talented, Crystal has shown that a strong work ethic and being coachable can take you a long way!


What have you been doing during lockdown?

I’ve been doing challenges with my teammates and I’ve been keeping up with the news and updates.


How is training different now than it used to be?

Our performance coach will give us workout packets and running exercises for us to do to stay on top of our fitness. As a team, we’ve been adding creative challenges to keep it competitive amongst ourselves. I currently live with a host family in a more isolated area, so I’ve been able to do lots of trail running which helps me escape.


How often are you communicating with teammates and coaches?

We have weekly calls with our team and coaches to check-in and make sure we’re all on the same page. I’ve also done multiple Q&A’s with fans and youth players which has been very enjoyable.






What highlights do you have from your youth soccer career?

I played on many great teams and played with teammates who went on to play professionally. I won State Cup 4-5 times and also won regionals and nationals. In high school during my senior year, I scored 36 goals and was recognized as “All-State” twice!


What is the best piece of coaching advice you ever received?

During an Elite 8 game in my last year at Georgetown, I was getting ready to come on as a sub. Kristen Meier, one of my coaches, grabbed me by both of my shoulders and said, “Crystal. Shoot the ball.”


So at one point during the game, I found myself on the wing in a crossing position, I only saw one teammate in the box, so I decided to shoot. No one expected it, and the ball nestled in the side netting of the goal. It’s a bit cliché, but you can’t score if you don’t shoot.

I also had some great advice from my dad, he’d always tell me, decide what you want and go get it.

How did ODP help you develop as a player? 

ODP exposed me to new challenges, new teammates, and gave me great exposure to collegiate and professional scouts. I also had the honor of being captain of the regional team, so I was very proud of that!


Which players inspired you as a young player?

Mia Hamm. In 3rd or 4th grade, I read a million biographies on her. My dad even drove me to Minnesota to see her play. I got to see her score her 150th goal in person. Unfortunately, I lost my soccer ball on that trip, but it was definitely worth it!


What did it mean for you to represent your country?

It was amazing! It’s every players’ dream to be able to play for their country. I’ve represented the US at the U-20 and U-23 level and it's my dream to go on and play for the senior team!








What made you choose Notre Dame initially?

I was recruited in 2010 off the bat of Notre Dame winning the National Championship, so it was a fantastic team and program. I loved the campus, the academics, and strong faith values. Overall, it was my dream school as a kid.


What were your highlights from Notre Dame?

The campus was great with a fantastic atmosphere where people love to be. The sports environment was amazing. In my recruiting class there were 12 other freshmen and we were all thrown into the team right away.


During the NCAA Tournament my freshman year, we were playing against Wake Forest. Going into this game we were not expected to win. Late in the game, my teammate played me a through ball, and I ran on to it and scored the winning goal to advance to the round of 16. It was a great moment to advance that far into the tournament with such a young team. My freshman year, I led the team in goals and points, and in my sophomore year I was second.


Another highlight was in my freshman year against Louisville in a Big East game, I dribbled from half and shot it in the upper 90.


Overall, Notre Dame was very community-centered. I loved my dorm; I had a great group of friends and the Golden Globe themed dances were so much fun!


What led your decision to transfer from Notre Dame to Georgetown?

After my sophomore year, both coaches that recruited me left, so I felt it was a good time to transition and look at another program. We played Georgetown and they beat us, but I was so impressed with the team and the coaching staff, so I knew I wanted to be a part of their program.


What were the highlights from Georgetown?

During my 5th year, I was co-captain with Marina Paul, who was fantastic. She was a center-back and held the team down. I’ve played on more talented teams before, but the coaches really helped this team reach their full potential. We ended up winning the Big East and made it to the NCAA College Cup (Final Four). Our success that season was a testament to how much people were willing to buy-in.







What did you like about playing in Norway and Iceland? 

I played for Medkila IL in Norway and it was my first overseas experience, so it was important that I got my feet wet. I enjoyed it and learned a lot! It was very different culturally, but I was in a lovely town and everyone spoke English, so it was easy to adapt. There were also two other Americans and an Australian in the squad, so we established our own little group!


How did the opportunity come about?

I sent my highlight tape out to coaches overseas and the coach at Medkila IL liked what he saw. He also knew another coach I previously had, so he gave me a good recommendation.


How about Iceland?

My agent helped me get a contract in Iceland for Valur. It was another great experience. Initially I had told my agent that my goal was to get back and play professionally in the US, so at Valur I was able to show what I was capable of. I also loved how professional the club was, it definitely gives you an edge and helps you win games.


How did you end up back with the Spirit?

The Spirit contacted my agent as they were interested in signing me and subsequently, I signed the contract the next day.

Everyone at the Spirit from the owners, coaches, and front office is on board with our mission. Everyone at the club wants to be successful and everyone cares for us as human beings. It all feeds into team mentality and team morale.


The coaches love winning, and my teammates are extremely competitive. Everyone is a top-level player and I’m extremely blessed and thankful to be part of this organization.


The Spirit has also done a fantastic job of investing in younger players. The Spirit wants to have a great relationship with youth clubs in the area to attract local talent. 


Throughout this stay-at-home order, we’ve had multiple Zoom calls with youth players where we can talk and give advice. It’s important to invest in the next generation.


Talk about your experience in Australia with Perth Glory…

It was another positive experience! I went on loan to stay sharp and fit during the off-season. It was important for my development to play more games and adjust to a different style of play and culture. Overall, it was an interesting change of pace from American life!


Best player you’ve played with?

Tiffany Milbrett. She was fantastic, she played with us at National Team camps. She’d even let me call her Tif and she called me Bubs! We’d work together to score goals!


Best player you have played against?

Rose Lavelle. She is unbelievable in training and matches!

Best moments with the Spirit so far?

Last year when I opened my scoring account. I came off the bench to score off a throw-in from Sam Staab. All our games at Audi Field last season were unreal as well! It was amazing winning in front of 19,000.


Another great memory was scoring the opening goal in Orlando. The atmosphere was electric! In the pre-match talk, the coaches kept telling me to pressure the keeper.


Early in the game, the ball went back to the goalkeeper. Our whole team was in great defensive positions and we cut off all the passing lanes. I then pressured the goalkeeper and won it off her and scored!


Ritchie Burke (coach of the Washington Spirit) always tells us, “In soccer you reinvent yourself every day.” This resonates with me every time I step onto the field!


What advice would you give to young players?

Set your goals and strive for them and then enjoy the process. You have to face challenges along the way, which isn’t the most fun thing, but you must embrace them and take them in stride to get where you want to be.