Leslie Osborne was born in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Growing up, she played many sports, but at the age of 10, she was forced to pick one sport to focus on. Her dad made her put all the sports she played in a hat and pull one out. The one she picked was soccer. So ever since then, it's been all about soccer for her.
When she was 11, she met her current teammate, Lindsay Tarpley, at a Regional Camp. Then they found themselves playing together in youth national teams, on the US Women's National Team, and are even teammates now playing in the same WPS club, the Boston Breakers.
Osborne was twice named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Wisconsin, in 2000 and 2001. She had a great career at Santa Clara, earning top honors every year she was there, including the prestigious Honda Award for the nation's best athlete in her sport as a senior, ending her career with 44 goals and 34 assists as a forward.
She has now worked her way to a defensive midfielder role. She may look like the girl next door off the soccer field, often doing modeling gigs and photo shoots for Puma, but you do not want to get slide tackled by her because she will take you out.
Standing at 5'8", she will most likely win any header and can play well both on offense and defense, which makes her one of the most dangerous players out there. She sure is a handful for opposing teams. But even if she is injured and watching her team struggle to get wins, she will keep a positive attitude and help her team through it.
Always upbeat, Leslie was happy to take the time to answer a few questions about herself. Enjoy!
What is your favorite memory of Santa Clara soccer?
I have so many memories. It’s hard to pick my favorite. I have a special memory my freshman year and my senior year especially. My freshman year, I got to play with some of the best players I have ever played with (Danielle Slaton, Devyn Hawkins, Aly Wagner, and Anna Kraus). I came in as a freshman and played center forward, it was awesome to win a national championship that year.
My senior year was special too because of how much adversity our team had to deal with. Personally, I had just gotten cut from the 2004 Olympic team and had to find the passion for game again. We ended up making it to the NCAA Final Four. I played most of season with torn ligaments in my ankle and received the Honda Player of the Year award. I had a very special career at Santa Clara and some of the best memories.
What about your favorite college experience off the field?
Santa Clara was my second home. I love the campus, people, professors, and everything about it. I have this feeling there that I have never had before. So many special places, people, and memories. I loved my college experience.
We all know you love cheese, but what is your all-time favorite?
I love all cheese. My favorite is Pecorino Romano, which is Italian cheese. My grandma gave it to me when I was a baby. I don't think there is a cheese I don't like.
What do you think your job would be right now if you weren’t a professional soccer player?
Well my dream job would be helping Puma design my own fashion line. I am trying to work on that. Realistically, I would be coaching college soccer or broadcasting, which I have done both already and hope to do more of.
You have known Lindsay Tarpley for many years. What were your first impressions of her when you first met her?
We have known each other since we were 11. She is my sister and best friend. We have gone through more together and spent more time together than any of my friends. I met her at Regional Camp when we were 11.
Then she was shy, sweet, and such a hard worker. We got along right away, and everyone laughed because we were opposites. I was so outgoing, talkative, and social. We hit it off right away and have been through a lot with each other.
What’s it like playing together for the youth national teams, the full national team, and now playing together as professionals?
Playing for the youth national team was a blessing. I got to play against the best players in the country at such a young age. I got to travel the world and experience so many different cultures.
I had to balance and prioritize my life. I got to meet so many great teammates, friends, and have great coaches at such a young age. I got to represent my country at a young age, nothing compares to that. Tarp and I have gone through every step of the process together (state, regional, youth national, full national, and now WPS).
We have gone through championships, losses, weddings, injuries, traveling, and everyday activities. I can't tell you how special it is to play with her professionally; we didn't think it would happen.
What was the most trouble you got into as a kid?
Oh no...I got in a little bit of trouble in my days. I got caught sneaking out of the house a few times, toilet papering, and skipping school. My parents forgave me. I was a good kid most of the time.
What are some words that people from Wisconsin use that people from anywhere else don’t? (I heard bubbler is water fountain)
Bubbler is a good one. Pop is for soda. I think it’s more my accent; the way I say bag and all of my A's. People think I talk like the mom from Bobby’s World.
What is your favorite thing about Boston as a city?
There is so much to do. I love the fans here. It is such a sports city. I love going to all the sporting events. Bruins, Celtics, and Red Sox games are my favorite. I attend a lot of the Revs games as well. There is great shopping, parks, tours, and so many great restaurants. I also love all the nice little East Coast getaway vacations to Cape Cod and New Hampshire, which has been great.
What is your favorite thing about the Boston Breakers?
The organization as a whole has blown me away. I love this team, I appreciate everyone involved here. They continue to impress me. I am extremely lucky for many reasons. Plus I love wearing that royal blue.
What is/are your favorite movies(s)?
I don't have one, but I do like inspirational movies like Miracle and Hoosiers .
Who is the best player you've ever had on your team (in college, pro, or national team)?
The best players I have had on my team have to be Kristine Lilly and Shannon Boxx. I got to play with the 2004 U.S. Women’s National Team with Brandi (Chastain), Mia (Hamm), (Julie) Foudy, etc. but didn't get to play with them for a long period of time.
Lil (Kristine Lilly) and Boxxy (Shannon Boxx) show up every day and they continue to inspire me. Internationally Formiga, Christine Sinclair, and Kelly Smith are my three favorite players, so happy when they are on my team.
Who is the best player you have played against?
The best player I have ever played against is Kelly Smith. I am so happy she is on my team. I marked her on the U.S. National Team a few times and it was very difficult.
What is your go-to karaoke song?
I don't do karaoke. I am tone deaf, but I try to sing a lot though. I would say Deana Carter...“Strawberry Wine.”
Lastly, do you like your full name (Leslie Marie Osborne)?
Yes I love my name...but I like “Les” the best.
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