Home Celebrities Olympic Gold Medalist + Soccer Star Carli Lloyd Has New Jersey Roots

Olympic Gold Medalist + Soccer Star Carli Lloyd Has New Jersey Roots

by Diana Cooper
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Carli Lloyd has made a name for herself in the Women’s Professional Soccer League. She has two FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, two Olympic gold medals, and two FIFA Player of the Year titles under her belt. She’s also taken part in eight world championships. In August 2021, she made the decision to retire from the sport – a decision she doesn’t regret. The pro athlete, who was born and raised in New Jersey, has ventured on to new and exciting projects. Read on for The Montclair Girl’s exclusive interview with Carli Lloyd. 

carli lloyd world champion

(Photo credit: @carlilloyd)

The Ivy at Chatham

Growing Up in NJ

Carli grew up in the small town of Delran, NJ, a place that helped shape the person she became today. “Delran was really my foundation that kind of led me to this path and journey that I’ve been on,” Carli told The Montclair Girl. “I remember being a little girl and just kind of having access to everything. Being able to walk to a soccer field, going to the local swim club and being on the swim team, and growing up playing softball. I literally played every and all sports!”

The now 40-year-old athlete started dipping her toes into soccer at the mere age of 5. At that time, it was a “far-fetched dream” of becoming a professional soccer player, and she just played because she truly loved the sport. 

carli lloyd childhood nj

(Photo credit: @carlilloyd)

“Playing with the ball, all the time, every day, all day I think that’s what it takes. And then, obviously, the hours you put in and you kind of have to have a path that kind of allows you to reach your level… but yeah, I mean, I don’t think I could ever have predicted what my career would have looked like,” Carli said.

Little did she know she would go on to earn the title of “World Player of the Year,” among many other titles. However, her parents early on recognized there was something special about their daughter. And a lot of people in town recognized it, too. This led her to playing for a local club team that’s still around today: the Medford Strikers Soccer Club. 

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“I think a lot of people saw special traits and qualities in me and I don’t think I particularly believed in myself as much, but I do remember as a young kid when I was doodling, I would always sign my autograph, which I thought was pretty funny…maybe I had an inkling that I would have to sign some autographs some day.”

carli lloyd with fans

(Photo credit: @carlilloyd)

Kick-starting her professional career, Carli became a player for Rutgers University’s Scarlet Knights. She was named the 2001 Big East Rookie of the Year, the first Rutgers player to ever earn that honor, and became the only Scarlet Knight to earn First-Team All-Big East Honors each year for the four years she attended college there.

“Rutgers really allowed me to be me, allowed me to express myself from a soccer field, and Glenn Crooks (the Women’s Soccer Coach) gave me a chance and believed in me,” Carli shared. “I formed some amazing relationships with roommates, teammates and was able to get a really good education.” 

All About Her Pro Career

In 2009, Carli signed with her first Women’s Professional Soccer league team, Chicago Red Stars for one season before leaving to join NJ’s Sky Blue FC the following year. She then was part of Atlanta Beat in 2011 before joining Western New York Flash, an American soccer club that’s part of the National Women’s Soccer League, in 2013. From 2015-2017, she played for the Texas NWSL team, Houston Dash, and then Manchester City. From 2018-2021, she played for NJ/NY Gotham. Throughout her career, she became one of the top players in the world, earning the title of FIFA Player of the Year in 2015 & 2016.

carli lloyd gold medal

^ Carli winning gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (held in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic)

(Photo credit: @carlilloyd)

“I set out on a mission to become the best soccer player that I could become. That was one of my individual goals, wanting to become the best player in the world. And, from the team standpoint, [my mission was to] just help my team win as many championships as I could,” Carli, a New Jersey Hall of Fame inductee, shared with MG. 

“Being part of four world cups winning two of those (in 2015 & 2019) — and being part of four Olympics (2008, 2012, 2016, 2020 Summer) winning two golds and a bronze definitely was an amazing feeling. You know, being part of 8 world championships was pretty amazing too, and they’re all different in their own regard… but just pretty grateful for all that I was able to experience and accomplish,” she added.

carli lloyd usa soccer team

^ Carli Lloyd recently played on the USA Women’s National Soccer Team

(Photo credit: @carlilloyd)

In terms of the turning points in her career, Carli reflected back and said there’s been a few. “The 2008 Olympics, scoring in the final, kind of gave me that confidence boost and then 2012, kind of overcoming the challenge of being benched right before the Olympics and then a [teammate] injury… having to step in and be ready for that and seize my moment… I was able to score two goals in the final and we beat Japan 2:1 to win Olympic gold, so I think that was a big turning point. In 2015, it was the World Cup and being able to win it after 16 years and scoring a hat trick gave me another boost. But I think the failures and obstacles [throughout my career] have kind of helped propel me on to those moments.”

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Retiring & Future Plans

Carli announced her retirement in August 2021. Two months later, on October 26, 2021, she played her last game as a member on the United States Women’s National Soccer team, playing alongside other soccer stars like Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Christen Press. Retiring was something she was ready for. 

carli lloyd soccer star

^ Carli playing for the NJ/NY Gotham FC

(Photo credit: @gothamfc)

“I had given everything I had to the game and finishing up then, you know, it would’ve been another three years for the next cycle for the 2023 World Cup, so that would’ve put me a lot older and there were a lot of things in my life from a personal standpoint that I wanted to do,” Carli explained. “I wanted to spend more time with my husband, family, and friends. There were a lot of factors that made it a pretty easy decision and one that I was able to dictate my ending. I’m very grateful that I was able to go out that way and feel really at peace with the decision.” 

She thanked her husband, Brian Hollins, her high school sweetheart who is now a professional golfer, for helping her through the 17 years they were together. The couple who now resides in Medford, NJ, got married in November 2016 in Puerto Morelos, Mexico.

“He’s been fully supportive… and he’s known how passionate I’ve been about soccer and what it’s taken for me to be the best that I can possibly be,” she said. “I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all that I accomplished if I didn’t have his support.”

carli lloyd husband

^ Carli with her husband, Brian Hollins

(Photo credit: @carlilloyd)

Carli now says this is an “exciting time” of her retirement phase since there’s been a lot of things she’s had to put on hold that she didn’t have time for during her soccer career. She says she’s looking forward to trying more sports like golf, which she’s taken a liking to, skiing, traveling for fun, and riding four wheelers — and, of course, exploring more local spots (The Honey Post and Grubr Eats in Medford are her go-to!). 

“It’s shifted from soccer being kind of my No. 1 focus for really the last 34 years of my life to focusing my attention on Brian, and I think that’s been a really special thing and we’ve definitely grown a lot closer because of it,” she said. “So yeah, it’s been really good.”

She’d also like to have kids one day but doesn’t have a timeline. “Obviously we would like that more in the near future than not. It’s one thing that I personally made a decision and obviously Brian as well to put off having kids while I was playing,” Carli shared. “But yeah, hopefully in the near future. We’re definitely looking forward to that next chapter.”

carli lloyd teqball

^ Carli supporting Teqers during a Teqball tournament in Santa Monica, California, in April 2022

(Photo credit: @usateqball)

Check Out Carli

Apart from upcoming sponsorships and becoming a global ambassador of a company that’s going to be announced soon, Carli has since been heavily involved in Teqball, a soccer-like sport played on a curved table that’s popular in Europe. It’s a fast-growing sport that’s on track to becoming an Olympic sport by 2028, and Carli has signed on as the first female ambassador in hopes of making the dream come true. And she’s had some fun herself taking part in local tournaments. 

“I’m definitely a big fan. I’ve definitely been supportive of top female players in the world and formed a relationship with them and it’s been fun,” Carli said. “I’m trying to continue to help the sport grow and get the awareness out for people to come watch and try it out themselves… I think having a soccer background is definitely kind of a fun part of it just because I grew up playing a lot of soccer and tennis.” 

carli lloyd special forces fox

^ Carli with cast from the new FOX show, “Special Forces: The Ultimate Test”

(Photo credit: @carlilloyd)

Carli also took part in an upcoming new show on FOX, Special Forces: The Ultimate Test, in which celebrities had to endure some of the most grueling challenges. The show will premiere in January 2023 and also features Olympic gymnast Nastia Liukin, actress Beverley Mitchell, Spice Girls’ Mel B., reality star Kate Gosselin and Dr. Drew Pinsky. 

“That was probably one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever taken part in mentally, physically, emotionally. Hardest thing I’ve ever endured. It really taught me a lot about myself, about life and just kind of surrendering yourself to the process and the journey,” Carli shared. “Taking part in that, you really just have to live in the present moment and trust that things are going to work out. It was incredible.”

To keep up with Carli, follow her on Instagram @carlilloyd and be sure to visit her website, carlilloyd.com. Carli is also the author of two books, “When Nobody Was Watching: My Hard-Fought Journey to the Top of the Soccer World” and “All Heart: My Dedication and Determination to Become One of Soccer’s Best.” 

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