He’s America’s proudest dad!
Jim Rapinoe is beaming from ear to ear. As the dad of United States Women’s National Team soccer captain Megan Rapinoe, he has every right to be.
When Megan, 34, and Team USA face off against Netherlands in the World Cup in Lyon, France, building contractor Jim is going to be watching at home in his lucky armchair surrounded by family at their Redding, California, family home.
In an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com, Jim, 71, says with a tear in his eyes, ‘I’ve never been prouder of my daughter, Megan, the woman she’s become, the athlete she’s become, the leader she’s become.’
‘I am expecting USA to win tomorrow. Megan told me that she plans on playing in the match, she said she feels good and she’s healthy enough.
‘I’ll be cheering her on. She loves the pressure, the big game, this is what she does best. She loves the big stage.’
‘I may not agree with some of her views about non-soccer issues, but I respect that she’s willing to put it all on the line and stand up for them.’
Megan has publicly feuded with President Donald Trump after Megan gave an interview on video in January where she said she would not go to the “f***ing White House” if the U.S. won the cup.
Trump responded this week: “Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team.”
Jim spoke about Megan, the youngest of their five children, at the $400,000 four-bedroom home they are renting while he builds a house nearby.
He said there were a lot of sacrifices that he and his waitress wife Denise, 65, made so Megan and her twin sister Rachael, older by 11 minutes, could play soccer.
He said: ’Megan only went to one high school dance. She didn’t attend her high school graduation, nor did she attend her college graduation, because she was playing in soccer tournaments. She gave up a lot, so did we.
‘Megan’s success is a family deal. We all missed a lot of family get togethers because we were shuttling Megan and her sister around to various tournaments up and down the west coast.’
‘Rachael didn’t like the traveling lifestyle in soccer and she retired shortly after 2009, she went back to Portland State and got her Master’s Degree in a health-related field,’ added Jim.
Her brother Brian first introduced her to soccer hen she was young girl and she idolized him. But their lives took different paths when they got older.
Brian got involved in drugs and has spent nearly half of his adult life in prison. He currently is housed at the unit in San Diego and is scheduled to be released from custody in August.
He told DailyMail.com, ‘I’m Megan’s biggest fan and I couldn’t be prouder of her. I’ll be watching her play on Sunday with the other inmates.‘
Megan got her first taste of competitive soccer when she was about 9-years old.
Jim explained that not enough girls were playing soccer at the time in Redding, CA so Jim put her on a boys’ team for a year.
He said, ‘The boys ended up being too physical for Megan. She was able to handle them skill wise, they were just stronger.
‘The parents on our own team didn’t like that Megan outplayed their sons so some of them encouraged them to be more physical.
‘I was one of her first coaches by default for about three years. If I didn’t coach her nobody else would in those days, it was hard to gather a girls’ team together but me along with a few of the other fathers formed a team.’
As a 12-year-old student at Foothill High School in Palo Cedro, California, Megan chose not to play in the local school’s team but instead joined an external soccer club 150 miles away, where the skill level was higher.
Jim said, ’She played in part because soccer up here in Redding was played in the winter and Megan wanted to play basketball and the other part was that Megan wanted to play in a more competitive environment than what we had up here in Redding.
‘My wife, Denise who has worked at Jake’s grill in Redding, CA for the past 38 years, on her day off, she drove Megan and her sister down to Elk Grove, CA from our home in Redding for soccer practice, more than 300-miles round trip.
‘Megan would do homework in the back of the van on the way down to practice and sleep on the way back home. Meaning she would be gone all day during the school week sometimes until 9:30PM. She never complained about the drive. She loved playing soccer.
‘It was lot of driving, I went through a few mini vans because of all the miles. I don’t even know how many miles I’ve driven over the years. We driven to Texas, Arizona, and up and down the west coast too many times for me to count.’
Danny Cruz, 60, Megan’s club soccer coach at Elk Grove Pride told DailyMail.com, ‘I knew Megan was going to be a superstar from day one.
‘She’s a player that comes around once or twice in a lifetime. The first time I saw her play I knew I wanted her on my team.
‘I saw her in a tournament we were playing in and afterwards I went up to her parents and told them I wanted her on my team – that Megan needs to be seen outside of the Redding area.’
Cruz coached Megan and her sister from the age of 15 years old, until they were both 18, and has coached soccer for more than 40 years.
‘When I got Megan on my team her winning attitude became infectious to her teammates. She hated losing, she knew what she wanted from day one, her drive and passion for the game was unlike anything I had ever seen before,’ added Cruz.
Jim said, ‘I never thought Megan would end up in the World Cup. Every time I see Megan on TV, I pinch myself…when you look up and see her it’s pretty cool.
‘Growing up I just wanted Megan to get into college and get it paid for. I knew she was a good player but being one of the best players in the world never crossed my mind’
One piece of advice Jim gives other parents who see potential in their child is, ‘let your kids pursue their passion.’
Megan has given back to her family not just by winning soccer games, but recently bought her parents a new Subaru Outback, worth $30,000, a few months ago.
‘One day we were talking to Megan about buying a new car and she said to her mother, that she’d buy us any car we wanted.’
Jim did get to see Megan play in the World Cup. Earlier in the month he flew to France and watched two games.
’But I had to get back to Redding. My 94-year old father Jack, a retired City of San Bernardino firefighter, has congestive heart failure and we were worried about his health.
‘I text Megan every day, ‘I ask her how she’s doing, I tell her to give them hell!
Jim said he is happy Megan’s mom Denise will be at the Stade de Lyon to cheer their daughter on.
And Jim revealed fans shouldn’t expect Megan to hang up her boots anytime soon. He said, ‘Megan plans on playing in the upcoming Olympics and in the World Cup again in four years.
‘She has the mindset for it, now if she doesn’t suffer any injuries she’ll play for several more years.’