Let’s forget about Megan Rapinoe – the soccer player who was part of the U.S.A. team that won the women’s World Cup and is using up her 15 minutes of fame to simultaneously diss Trump and America while giving all the glory to herself for the win.
Instead, let’s focus on another much lesser-known but just as accomplished member of the team of soccer players that won the Cup who is shifting fame away from herself and onto God, who she credits for the victory.
Her name is Tobin Heath, and after the World Cup win, she posted this to Instagram
Compare Tobin Heath's humble post honoring God to Megan Rapinoe's reaction to the win:
Who would you rather have representing America?
Back in 2011, Heath told Beliefnet about her strong faith in Christ.
Here's an excerpt from that interview:
Chad Bonham: Can you share a little bit about your Christian faith journey?
Tobin Heath: I was fortunate enough to grow up in a Christian home and an awesome family. Our family was just really passionate about Jesus. I had a great experience growing up. Like many kids, I wanted to do my own thing so it wasn’t until around the end of high school and start of college that I started to develop my own faith. I stopped piggy backing off of my family’s (faith) and wanted to figure out what it was all about. I got super interested in things and obviously from there it’s just grown. Like anyone who has a relationship (with Jesus) knows, the coolest thing about it is that it’s infinite how much you can learn and begin to understand. It’s something that grabbed me.
Bonham: Do you feel like your reason for being successful as an athlete is bigger than soccer?
Heath: Absolutely. My platform might be a little bigger than someone else’s, but everyone has a purpose. For me, that purpose in my life right now is soccer. There’s a cool, personal testimony that goes along with it. You spend so much time with your teammates in environments where they see how you live. It’s one of the coolest ways to just love people. Obviously in the world of sports, you go through different ups and downs than in normal life. You might be on top of the world playing or you’re sidelined with an injury. Your teammates see you through the good and the bad. They see where your foundation lies in those moments. You can also be there for them to share the love of Christ to them through those times when they’re in need and desperate for some truth in their lives.
Bonham: How did your faith get you through the highs and lows you experienced at the 2011 World Cup? Can you imagine dealing with them minus your relationship with God?
Heath: I can’t even imagine going through life without my relationship with Jesus. So much of it is me relying on Him and me needing Him, not just in those crazy circumstances but in the day-to-day activities. During that time at the World Cup, it was a rollercoaster ride, but it was neat to just see His hand on that. It’s more than just winning or losing. There are so many relationships that go deeper than that. He has a plan in it all. You have to trust that. Even though it’s not the ideal outcome—I mean, everybody wants to be winners—you have to trust that God has a greater plan for this even when you can’t see it.
Bonham: What’s the key principle that helps you stay emotionally and spiritually even-keeled?
Heath: Know your place. I know it kind of sounds a little backwards, but I just really think of God as being so incredible. The depth of who He is and His character is unfathomable and the fact that we can know Him just a little bit is so cool. He knows us inside and out. It’s remarkable in many ways. When I try to think about Him, I’m just in awe. That humbles me in any situation. When I need strength in hard times, I know I have a God that can move mountains. Or if I’m going through a time of success, I can just rejoice in the Lord and give glory to Him knowing that He’s given me the gifts to be able to accomplish what I have. Everything comes back to Him.
Bonham: Tell me about the core group of believers on the U.S., team and how important that is to your spiritual stability.
Heath: I’m extremely blessed with my teammates. They’re such an encouragement in my life. I have people praying for me and I’m praying for them as well. I can lean back on them. They strengthen me during those times. But even with my non-believing teammates, there is a great amount of unity and I truly believe that’s God working. It’s really cool in team sports when you’re united around a belief or something you want to accomplish. Whenever you’re working towards something greater than yourself, it’s almost a selflessness that the Lord delights in when you’re serving your teammate or your friend or your sister in Christ. That’s just why I love team sports. It’s a great example of that selflessness that I think is really pleasing to God.
You can read the full interview at Beliefnet here.
Tobin Heath is a seasoned veteran on the U.S. team. In 2016 after her team won the World cup in 2015, The Oregonian spoke of her accomplishments:
Tobin Heath could hardly contain her excitement.
It was the night before the gold medal match at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and while most of Heath's veteran teammates had gone to bed early in preparation for the big game, the then-20-year-old had pushed her bed across the hall and crowded into a small room with Amy Rodriguez and Lauren Cheney.
The three U.S. Women's National Team (USWNT) newbies had lain side-by-side on their beds that night in the Beijing Olympic Village and giddily talked about what it would be like to stand on an Olympic podium for the first time. The notion of wearing a medal seemed like a dream come true.
It's a moment that Heath still vividly recalls eight years later, though she no longer feels like the same youthful and uninitiated player that she was on that night in 2008.
The 28-year-old is now one of the most seasoned veterans on the U.S. team. She has earned two Olympic Gold medals, won the 2015 Women's World Cup and holds an NWSL title with the Portland Thorns. She has evolved into a leader on and off the field for both club and country, and as she prepares to compete in her third Olympics in August, she recognizes her responsibility as a role model to the next generation of female players.
"When I look back at my progression from the first Olympics to the second until now, it's like the progression of a kid growing into a player," Heath said. "Now, I feel like I'm in the prime of my career."
* * *
Jeff and Cindy Heath knew very little about soccer when they brought their four-year-old daughter to a camp at the local YMCA in Basking Ridge, New Jersey in 1992.
But it didn't take long for them to realize that Tobin had an innate gift for the game.
"Most of the players were boys and she was just so feisty and aggressive and the ball just seemed to slide right onto her foot," Cindy Heath said. "From that day on, she never stopped playing."
Cindy recalls days in the depth of East Coast winter when a young Heath would beg her parents to help her shovel snow so she could reach her net in the backyard and work on her shot until the numbing cold finally forced her inside. On other days, Heath would just dribble around the house, nutmegging chairs - or her mom - just for a little added fun.
"She had fun with the game and when we would stress the individual skills, she would go home and work on them," said Tom Anderson, the president of the Players Development Academy and Heath's youth club coach. "It was her love of the game and willingness to try new things that really made her different."
As a teenager, Heath developed a passion for Brazilian soccer and grew to idolize Ronaldinho, then the nation's biggest star. When he played, it seemed like there was no separation between him and the ball, a feeling that Heath always strove to replicate on the field.
In one memorable youth tournament, Heath tried a new creative move every time she had the opportunity to beat a player. Finally - to the surprise of her coaches - she managed to successfully flick the ball up and over her head and rainbow a defender near the corner flag.
"My coach always said, 'You want to be that player that people pay to watch,'" Heath said. "The artistry of soccer and the beauty of it is what always attracted me to the game."
The remarkable technical skills that Heath cultivated through hours upon hours of training, along with her natural quickness and athleticism, made her stand out from a young age, and it didn't take long for her to work her way into the national team system.
Her hard work earned a spot on the U.S. Women's U-20 National Team at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women's World Championship when she was only 18. That same year, she went on to join the renowned University of North Carolina soccer program.
In 2008, she was the youngest player and one of just three active collegians to be named to the USWNT roster for the Beijing Olympics.
"I got the nickname 'soccer junkie' because it was just all I ever wanted to do," Heath said. "There was never a time that I didn't want to play."
A gifted and dedicated athlete, Heath has always possessed a unique flair on the field. She is a free spirit, who is happiest with the ball at her feet, in the moments when she is completely and unconsciously immersed in the game.
But in her early years with the national team, the laid back and fun-loving youngster struggled to break into the lineup as she vied for a position with players more than a decade older. She made just three substitute appearances at the 2008 Olympics and was subbed on four times three years later at the 2011 Women's World Cup.
At the time, Heath had a tendency to rely on her creative ability and skill in one-on-one situations, trying too often to beat her defenders with a bit of fancy footwork. But with experience, the New Jersey native has developed into a more complete player with the ability to contribute on both sides of the ball.
"Every since she was a young player, Tobin loved the ball and you could see that in her play," USWNT coach Jill Ellis said. "I think what she has been able to balance now is picking the right opportunities and moments where her flair can come out. She has always been a very technical player, but I think now she's more balanced and purposeful in her play."
After seeing limited minutes in both the 2008 Olympics and 2011 World Cup, Heath made four starts in the 2012 Olympics, recording three assists in the tournament as the USA won the gold medal.
The Western Journal recently commented on Heath's background and her faith, as well:
Heath’s Twitter bio refers to Ephesians 2:8-9, which says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
This year marked the third time Heath played in the World Cup and the second time she helped the U.S. women win it.
In 2011, the team fell to Japan in the final, but four years later, the women avenged that loss with a victory over Japan in the final.
eath also has competed in the Olympics thrice, helping the Americans win gold in both 2008 and 2012.
She is one of the more experienced players on the national team and now serves as one of its leaders, according to The Oregonian.
“When opportunities have arisen for leadership moments, I think Tobin has embraced them,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis told the outlet.
Professionally, Heath is a member of the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League.
She said she is fortunate to be able to use her platform to spread the importance of her faith and to offer praise for God.
“It’s about Him being known and not in a way that forces it upon other people but in a way that lets people know how He’s transformed my life and how He’s given me purpose and meaning and love and satisfaction,” Heath told Beliefnet. “That’s the message of Jesus.
“It’s not a platform to impose on people. It’s a platform to love people. Our God’s going to be victorious. He’s the Creator of the universe. I’m just a vessel trying to do my part with what I’ve been given.”