Soccer Star Ashlyn Harris on Sports, Style, and Self-Expression

Leah Faye Cooper

A few minutes before our recent chat with soccer star Ashlyn Harris, we took a moment to remind ourselves that despite many scrolls through her Instagram feed, a shared affinity for designer denim, and the elation we felt when she and her teammates won the World Cup last year, we didn’t actually know her in real life—best to keep the fangirling to a minimum so we could actually learn more about the 31-year-old goalkeeper.

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For those of you not familiar with Harris, a bit of a backstory: A native of Coco Beach, Florida, she played soccer at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, where she was a member of three national title-winning teams. Currently, Harris splits her time between playing for her pro club team, the Orlando Pride, and competing on the U.S. national team.

Her social media platforms are as much an ode to soccer as they are to individuality and self-expression—two things that have garnered her a massive international fan base. Add to this an incredible sense of style and, well, it was inevitable that we’d be giving her a call. Here’s what she shared about fitness, fashion, and more.

When did you start playing soccer, and what drew you to goalie?
I started playing with my older brother when I was about five. He and my next-door neighbor would put me between a light post and a palm tree and practice their kicks. I would be diving around and blocking them and having so much fun. I found it really enjoyable. That’s kind of where it started for me. For as long as I can remember I always played the position, and I grew up playing with guys. I played with guys until I was 15.

Did you always want to go pro?
I always knew that I was really athletic. I played baseball, also with guys, and was on the same team as my brother. I’d make the all-star team and everyone was like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe this is a girl.” I also played soccer, skateboarded, and surfed, so it was just a matter of deciding what I wanted to focus on. I started getting letters in the mail to play college soccer when I was in eighth grade, so I figured I had a shot at being pretty successful. In high school, I started to take it really seriously and it paid off.  

What’s your training schedule like?
For seven months out of the year I’m with my club team in Orlando and we train every day. My position is all about power—I need to be able to move from point A to point B as quickly as possible. I do a lot of speed drills and a ton of footwork. I don’t run that much because it takes away my fast twitch.

And your diet?
For breakfast, I eat a lot of eggs, oatmeal, fruit, and dried cereals. Lunch changes every day depending on what our carb load needs to be. At the beginning of the week, we don’t need that many carbs, so the chef mainly prepares meats and veggies. As the week progresses, we have more carbs and starches, like sweet potatoes. The day before a game we’ll have pasta for dinner.

You have a great sense of style. How have you developed it over the years?
I’ve always been into self-expression and started getting tattoos when I was 18 as a way to express myself. In college I was a typical athlete—I wore a lot of sweats and kept it really mellow. When I graduated and started playing professional soccer, I got really into fashion. Like tattoos, I think clothes are such a great way to show people who you are and what you’re about. And style is an awesome conversation starter. I’ve met a ton of people just by them stopping me and saying, “Hey, can I ask you about what you’re wearing?”   

What are some of your favorite brands?
I wear a lot of AllSaints. I like that it’s simple and I love the blacks, grays, and earthy colors. For jeans, I’m a big Rag & Bone fan, and I love G-Star when I can find a simple pair. I wear AllSaints boots, Common Projects sneakers, and studded Louboutins. Those are my go-tos right now.    

What about your favorite beauty products?
I color my hair a ton so I really have to take care of it. I use a lot of product to give it a grungy texture. I love the Oribe line. I use their texturizing spray and no joke, I go through a bottle every few weeks. It gives my hair a texture like I just jumped out of the ocean. Most of my makeup is Tom Ford. It’s not too heavy, it keeps my face clear, and it’s not too scented.

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Back to tattoos. What was your first one, and what have you added over the years?
My grandma was a breast cancer survivor and put up all these moth butterflies in her room. She talked about how they cleared negative energy and gave her a sense of positivity, so I took one that was hanging over her bed and I got it tattooed on my rib cage. Now I’m covered. I have my entire left side done, my whole right leg, a half-sleeve on my right arm, and some on my shoulders.    

I recently got an owl on my forearm that morphs into a silhouette of someone walking into an empty forest. I think there are moments when you need to create boundaries, shelter yourself, and keep walking. So that’s what it signifies—creating your own path and your own journey, and being comfortable in darkness and solitude at times. A lot of my tattoos are inspired by Greek mythology, and the owl is the bird of wisdom. I think of it as my night-watcher.    

Tell us about your T-Shirt line.
I got an opportunity to start designing and wanted to branch away from the typical athlete apparel—uncomfortable jerseys that people only wear to games and sweat to death in up in the stands—so I thought I’d make some cool T-shirts that people can wear anywhere. My designs are basically doodles that I find fun and interesting, and things I think people will like.

What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t playing soccer?
I honestly would love to be a designer or stylist. I love the idea of being creative in the realm of clothes and self-expression, and making people feel good about themselves. It’s cool that fashion can do that.