Just a few months before the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Mallory Swanson has her eyes locked on making the final roster for the U.S. Women’s National Team. Although she is no stranger to the beautiful game’s biggest stage having won the tournament with the 2019 team, this time feels different.
“It’s probably normal to approach it differently, because you’ve been through it already. You know what it takes. Thankfully, we won the last World Cup, so we all know what it takes to win, but it’s a grind, and it’s hard,” Swanson told AllForXI. “I’m in the mindset of taking everything day by day. Each training matters. Every little decision matters to try and make the roster and be as prepared as I can be to be able to play.”
Part of Swanson’s preparation includes her time with the Chicago Red Stars. With two games played so far in the 2023 National Women’s Soccer League season, the Chicago side sits in 10th place with two losses. Although these results have been disappointing to Swanson and her team, she feels confident in her squad, which recently saw the return of defenders Casey Krueger from maternity leave and Tierna Davidson from an injury.
“Getting Casey and Tierna back is amazing, they make everyone around them better. They raise the standards and expectations, even outside of training. They’re both true professionals, and I am very fortunate to be able to play with them and be in the locker room with them,” Swanson said. “We do have a lot of new faces on our team as well, which I think is exciting. Obviously our last couple of games weren’t the best, but as we all know, the NWSL is crazy! We just have to keep grinding away. As long as we keep on doing the right things and play the way we want to play, the results will happen.”
As she prepares for the last USWNT camp before the World Cup, Swanson is also focused on causes close to her heart, including partnering with Cracker Jack® and their I Am Cracker Jill Award to champion the dreams and accomplishments of women athletes ages 15 to 24.
Through this award, Cracker Jack® will help fund the sports ambitions of nine Cracker Jill young athletes, feature one award winner on special-edition bags and donate an additional $200,000 to the Women’s Sports Foundation.
For Swanson, helping young athletes tell their stories is of a special importance. “When I was younger, I always wanted to be a pro soccer player and wanted to be an inspiration to those around me,” she said. “I think just seeing that come full circle, and getting to hear about young girls and their stories where they’re changing the game is really exciting.”
Her advice to the young athletes applying for the award? Just be bold, confident, and true to themselves in telling their unique stories.
“For me personally, my journey was completely different and out of the norm, but I feel like everyone’s is,” she said. “I remember leaving school early [to play professionally] and being one of the first ones to do that. Taking that leap of faith was pretty scary obviously but I don’t regret my decision whatsoever. It was very beneficial for me as part of my journey.”
Furthest from her mind? Goal celebrations. “No, I haven’t put any thought into that yet, but I have been told my goal celebrations need to be better.”
As Swanson prepares for her final games with the USWNT before heading to New Zealand, there is no question that she has already inspired so many. With a few goals to go along with some new and improved celebrations at the World Cup this summer, Swanson will most certainly continue to inspire a whole new generation of young women athletes.
To learn more about Cracker Jill and how to apply, visit their website here.