James Beattie July 7, 2015
As the United States Women’s Soccer Team captured its third World Cup title Sunday, one of the team’s star players thanked the Lord for getting her this far.
Tobin Heath, a Midfielder from Basking Ridge, N.J., has not been afraid to share her love for God on social media throughout the tournament. Heath was raised in a Christian home and discovered her faith in Jesus while playing at the University of North Carolina (UNC), according to the Baptist Press. She was active in Athletes for Actions and Champions for Christ during her time at UNC.
Heath told Belief Net in a 2011 interview how her faith carried her through a heartbreaking loss to Japan–the U.S. lost in the World Cup final on penalties; Heath missed her shot.
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.
Heath scored a goal Sunday as the women’s team avenged their loss from 2011 Sunday, handily defeating Japan 5-2. The New Jersey native is not the only American soccer player to express her Christianity. Goalkeeper Tim Howard and midfielder Clint Dempsey on the men’s team have also spoken about their faith on several occasions.
UNC Soccer standout, her talent and God-centered character
Profile: Tobin Heath
University of North Carolina's soccer standout Tobin Heath raises the bar for the Tar Heels through her talent and God-centered character.
By Dave Pond
At the University of North Carolina, there’s an old saying passed down from generation to generation: “If God isn’t a Tar Heel fan, then why is the sky Carolina blue?”
The university’s women’s soccer program, which captured its 21st national title Sunday afternoon with a 1-0 victory over Stanford is arguably the cream of the NCAA;s crop!”a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by midfielder Tobin Heath, who grew up keeping tabs on the Heels from her home in Basking Ridge, N.J., before committing to play for legendary coach Anson Dorrance in the storied program.
North Carolina was basically the only school I knew about when it came to soccer. You always hear about the Tar Heels, said Heath, who tallied a pair of assists during College Cup weekend, earning a spot on the All-Tournament Team. So, when I got serious about soccer, I knew that Carolina was where I wanted to go because I wanted to play among the best players in the sport.
Heath’s YouTube-worthy soccer skills were just part of what made the 2005 New Jersey Player of the Year a highly sought-after recruit, Dorrance said.
“Tobin came to Chapel Hill as a wonderfully spiritual, selfless young woman, and through all the successes she’s had, she remains the same caring person that she was when she arrived”, he said. “You have to attribute that to her character and to a family that has the right value system. We’ve been privileged to have her choose to come to the University of North Carolina.”
…. Tobin is beyond being just an ordinary soccer player. She is a young woman of deep character who receives universal respect.â
A U.S. National Team member, Heath was thrust into the international spotlight a year ago, as the youngest player of the U.S. Olympic soccer team and one of just three collegiate players named to the squad. She saw action in three games and helped the Americans win gold in Beijing.
…. After missing UNC’s first game of the 2008 season due to the Olympics, Heath tallied eight goals and eight assists, helping the Tar Heels to a 25-1-2 record and an NCAA national championship. It was a profile-raising year that could have swelled the head of even the most humble athlete. But not Heath, said Tom Anderson, her long-time prep coach and a friend whom Heath regards as a spiritual mentor.
“I grew up in a very loving, Christian family that showed me from the beginning what true love was, but it took me a few years to realize that my faith didn’t revolve around my family but around God, who He is and what He has done in my life,” she said. …. Heath is intentional about carving out time for God before anything else on her calendar.
A Coach's Perspective
One of my favorite stories came out of our team banquet last spring. At our banquet, we allow all the graduating seniors to give a final address to the whole team. We’ve been experimenting with this banquet for two or three years, and we’ve got it cleaned it up enough to invite the chancellor and the athletic director to it. So they came to this soccer banquet with their wives¦ of course one of the reasons they came was that we were coming off a national championship, and I think that they wanted to be a part of this celebration of our team.
Well, one of our players, a graduating senior, stood up and started talking about her recruiting visit to UNC. Here I am, sitting at the table with the chancellor and his wife, and the athletic director and his wife, and she starts talking about how she packed all her “hot” clothes because she couldn’t wait to go down to Chapel Hill and have a typical recruiting weekend, and I’m thinking “Oh my gosh, where is this story going?” I’m sitting at the table sweating under my suit about what this graduating senior was going to tell the chancellor and the athletic director about her recruiting trip.
She talks about being all excited about what she anticipated was going to be a rip-roarin’ recruiting weekend, and I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, this could be humiliating!”
Then she talked about being all set to go out, and she finds Tobin in her dorm room, and Tobin says, “Hey, why don’t we go out into the woods and sit around and chat?” What was hilarious is that this story“ the potential ramifications of going downtown into Chapel Hill, burning the town to the ground“ turned into Tobin taking this girl out into the woods near the dorm and just chatting with her about her life in Chapel Hill. The whole, potentially wild and crazy night was defused by this sweet kid who just wanted to get to genuinely know and care for this player we were recruiting, rather than entertaining her in the bars of Chapel Hill. It was a perfect ending to a story that could have gone in a very different, dangerous direction.
UNC women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance, as told to Dave Pond