If there’s one thing Rose Lavelle needs to pack besides her soccer gear ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics, it’s her Kindle. 

The U.S. women’s national team veteran said the reading device helps her feel like having a breath of fresh air during major tournaments. 

“I’m a huge reader and I read so much during tournaments because I just kind of try to get off of social media and unplug,” Lavelle said. “I’m like a little off in my own world in that sense.”

Lavelle said she enjoys sinking her eyes into multiple genres and reading books from different authors to help her be in her “mental escape” from reality. 

“I’ve honestly bounced around to everything,” she said. “I read a little bit of everything: fiction, thriller, nonfiction, memoirs.”

The NJ/NY Gotham FC midfielder said as much as she likes to read, she doesn’t think she could be able to write a book herself. If she had to choose, though, Lavelle would consider writing a children’s book simply because it’s a genre that would take less time to write. 

With so many matches having to be played quickly at the Olympics, Lavelle added that there most likely won’t be too much time in between contests or practices to explore the city or country. Reading books off her Kindle, however, provides a great avenue to spend time when she’s not out on the pitch. 

The 28-year-old admitted she has not been reading many books lately as she focuses on recovering from an injury she endured during the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup in March – which has also delayed her debut game with NJ/NY Gotham FC. But with less than 100 days until the Paris Olympics begin, she’s hoping to get back into her bookworm ways.

“I am in a little bit of a reading slump,” Lavelle said. “I started the year reading ‘Jane Eyre’ because I wanted to try to read a classic that I read in high school, and oh my gosh, I know why I didn’t finish it in high school. It’s so boring! I finished it but I didn’t feel any better about it. So I’m open to recommendations to rekindle the passion.”

The Cincinnati, Ohio native said she is currently seeking any book recommendations ahead of the Games.

Helping lead the USWNT

When the Kindle or books are put away, it’s back to reality for Lavelle. A big part of that reality will be helping to lead the U.S. to a gold medal in Paris as one of the veteran players on the team. 

Lavelle made her debut for the national team in March 2017 and has been a regular starter since. She had logged 24 goals and 23 assists in 98 appearances while also helping the U.S. win the 2019 Women’s World Cup. 

She now finds herself with a U.S. team that is undergoing a generational shift and expected to take a young roster to Paris with players such as Trinity Rodman, Sophia Smith and Jaedyn Shaw.

Although she is in the midst of her prime years, Lavelle knows she also has a duty to lead the younger players on the team on a path that can help reestablish the U.S. as the team to beat in women’s international soccer. 

“Time flies by and I think the older you get, the more you learn [to lead a team],” she said. “I always say I think I joined the team at such a special time because there were still so many older veteran players that I looked up to and watched growing up that now I got to be teammates and friends with. But now, I also get to be teammates and friends with this younger generation that’s coming up. That’s so special and cool.”

The U.S. has lost some of its flair as the best team in the world in recent years after failing to win gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and suffering an early elimination at the 2023 Women’s World Cup. 

At the 2024 Paris Games, the U.S. was drawn into Group B with Germany, Australia and the winner of a playoff between Zambia and Morocco. 

With the playing field in women’s international soccer becoming more level, it puts somewhat of a burden on the new generation of American players to quickly restore the team’s dominance. Lavelle acknowledges this and said it creates more pressure on the team to succeed at the Paris Olympics.

“It’s getting harder and harder to win at the top level because every team is getting that much better,” Lavelle said. “There’s just more teams that can win and I think any team can beat any team on any given day. As the game grows, every team evolves. I think with our team, pressure is not new to us. This team lives with pressure constantly on us but it’s a place we want to be in. For the younger players to know that, this is just kind of scratching the surface sometimes of the pressure that can be put on this team and to learn to live in it."

The U.S. will enter the Paris Olympics with a new head coach, Emma Hayes. She will make her debut on June 1 for a friendly against South Korea. 

The women’s Olympic soccer tournament kicks off on July 25, one day before the Opening Ceremony. The U.S. women’s team’s first game will be against the winner of a playoff between Zambia and Morocco.