Megan Rapinoe & Alex Morgan Throwback: Live From E! Rewind
Who says you need to be on the field to be a gamechanger?
Fans of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT, IYKYK!) were disappointed when the roster for the 2023 World Cup was announced and Tobin Heath and Christen Press were M.I.A. Both two-time champions after competing in 2015 and 2019, Heath and Press are each recovering from recent injuries. But the power couple is not letting that stop them from making an impact even when they are more than 8,000 miles away from the tournament in Australia.
Heath, 35, and Press, 34, are hosting The RE-CAP Show, a twice-weekly series covering the 2023 World Cup that offers post-game analysis, interviews and intimate stories from two women who have been in the locker room where it happens. LFG, indeed.
“We won in 2019 and we were fighting for equal pay and that was definitely the most impactful and powerful year of my life,” Press told E! News in an exclusive interview. “I’ve just had all the feels watching this World Cup. The growth and the progress of the game that we worked so hard for and that we continue to work hard for is just imminent.”
The UWSNT’s fight for equal pay required six years of federal complaints and three years of litigation, but they finally netted their ultimate goal in September of last year when team representatives joined the men’s team to sign a collective bargaining agreement with the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Signed by each team, the two CBAs will run through 2028 and set a standard for equal pay through “identical economic terms,” according to U.S. Soccer.
But that doesn’t mean their work is done—far from it, in fact.
(Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for RE-INC)
Heath and Press—along with their teammates Meghan Klingenberg and Megan Rapinoe, who is set to retire from professional soccer this fall—cofounded RE—INC in 2019 with the mission of making the world a more inclusive and equitable place for all. And the RE-CAP Show is just another asset in their goal to center female athetes, who’ve largely been ignored by mainstream sports media.
“Women’s sports has been put through such a narrow lens,” Heath explained. “Our sports structures were created by men and for men because, at that time, men’s sports was kind of the only thing that existed. We were completely being missed. So those lenses were very much through the lens of, like, what the patriarchy would want to see in women’s sports, not what women’s sports actually are and certainly not the fullness of it.”
So, after finding themselves “missing” from any coverage, they decided to do what they do best: Step onto the field themselves and take control of the ball.
“That was really why we created RE-INC because we actually wanted to fight not just against these structures which are important,” Heath continued. “But we wanted to fight for the creation of structures that were the exact things that we were fighting against and looked and felt more like us.”
And that lead to the creation of what they’re calling “gal culture,” which the couple stressed is for everyone.
“We can be unapologetic, we can be brave, we can be loud,” Press described, “but it is an inclusivity that really it is a space for everyone where you also can be something else. It’s the liberation of the shackles that gals have predominantly held.
“Does it mean now that we’re the only ones that can be different or that we have to be different? It’s that we can be,” she continued. “It’s the celebration of choosing what you want, what you like and owning it and also then also living in non-judgment of other people choosing a different piece of that culture that they want to uplift.”
While they’ve been teammates on and off the field for years, Press wasn’t the initial partner that was slated to co-host the series alongside Heath. But after needing a fourth surgery on her knee, the L.A.-based forward’s hopes to make the World Cup roster were sidelined.
While fans of her gameplay were understandably disappointed, the silver lining was getting to see more of the effortless chemistry between the notoriously private couple on-screen, much to their rabid social media following’s delight.
Still, that doesn’t mean they are going to open up their relationship for public consumption in a way that doesn’t feel authentic to them.
“Tobin and I have always approached life with a joy for sacredness and we both really appreciate privacy,” Press explained. “We both also appreciate that as public figures, there is responsibility and there is opportunity to model lifestyles and relationships and choices that can be unsafe for people or that they can be struggling with.”
And Press highlighted the variety of relationships modeled by the USWNT—including ones “that are really loud and bold and those are deeply meaningful for the queer community and more traditional, like mom-dad-and-baby relationships“—as an opportunity for she and Heath to share their home life on their own terms.
“There’s a space for the way that Tobin and I operate, which is a quiet and respectful and partnership,” Press said, “I think that also lets us have a piece of us that is really sacred and really special.”
Not that they aren’t delighted by their supporters’ interest in their relationship or have failed to notice the slew of excited comments about breaking the Internet every time they post about one another.
“We do love the fans,” Press gushed. “We love the love and we totally get the way that everyone shows up for us and everybody feels invested in our story. It actually does touch us.”
As for their dynamic as co-hosts versus teammates and life partners, Heath acknowledged that she and Press are “such different individuals, both as footballers and as people,” but their differences come together for a “nice dynamic” on the show.
“We both approach our crafts very different, but we are obsessed with our crafts,” she continued. “It’s a special thing building something with someone that kind of has that same elite mentality.”
Given that they are still active players and are close with the team, one might think Heath and Press would be hesitant to criticize the USWNT’s gameplay throughout the World Cup this far.
And that would be before their former teammate-turned-pundit Carli Lloyd faced backlash after describing their performance as “uninspired” and calling out the players for celebrating after their tie against Portugal.
But Heath defended Lloyd’s remarks, explaining “anyone who knows” the four-time Olympian would understand that she has never been one to hold back and honesty, even when it can be brutal, is the USWNT’s strategy.
“Carli Lloyd is a strong, talented, opinionated woman,” Heath explained, “and she shared the locker room with 22 other strong, passionate, opinionated women. I appreciate her perspective. That doesn’t mean I agree with it or that I like it, but I appreciate it because at the same time that she says her perspective, I know there’ are 22 other perspectives that are valuable to the totality of what the perspective mentality of the USWNT is.”
Sounds like gal culture.