BYU’s most-decorated soccer star excels on the sidelines

By on March 5, 2013.

For Aleisha Cramer-Rose, the morning’s routine of fixing kids’ lunches and heading into work is typical. And yet, there is nothing typical about her life as a wife, mother of three and assistant coach for the BYU women’s soccer team.

Cramer-Rose is as literal a soccer mom as can be. But while washing out grass stains in her children’s uniforms, she has a few stains of her own to clean. It’s nothing new: she spent her whole life mastering the sport and became the most decorated athlete to ever play soccer at BYU.

Alisha Cramer-Rose moves past a defender during her days on the BYU women's soccer team. Cramer-Rose is now an assistant coach for the Cougars. (Photo courtesy BYU Athletics)

Aleisha Cramer-Rose moves past a defender during her days on the BYU women’s soccer team. Cramer-Rose is now an assistant coach for the Cougars. (Photo courtesy BYU Athletics)

Even from her younger days growing up in Lakewood, Colo., Cramer-Rose’s athletic ability was outstanding. At 16, she began playing with the U.S. women’s national soccer team. She was the third-youngest woman to play on the team after Mia Hamm and Kristine Lilly. Later, she would start for an injured Hamm in an exhibition game against Brazil at Mile High Stadium in Denver, near her hometown. Cramer-Rose was named the 1999 High School Player of the Year and at BYU would be honored as the ESPN Soccer Times Freshman of the Year.

A senior at BYU in 2003, Cramer-Rose competed against the Villanova University Wildcats in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. The Cougars won in a shootout and became the first BYU women’s soccer team to advance to the Elite 8.

“It was a heartbreaking conference because we didn’t do as well as we hoped,” Cramer-Rose said. “But then we ended up making it into the tournament and kind of upset some teams and made it further than we ever had. So it was an awesome ending.”

Cramer-Rose’s BYU career continued when Jennifer Rockwood, head coach of the women’s team, offered her a position as assistant team coach. Cramer-Rose had only imagined playing soccer growing up, not coaching it, but she gave it a try and now excels. Still, it was a learning experience, especially coaching the same girls that were once her teammates.

“There were definitely some awkward years when I was trying to find a balance of changing my role from a friend and teammate to a coach,” Cramer-Rose said. “Then once the people I had played with moved on, I felt that it was easier to take upon myself a new role.”

One role she always knew she wanted, however, was to be a wife and mother. At the time, her demanding soccer schedule made these aspirations seem unachievable. In 2002, Cramer-Rose found peace by quitting the U.S. women’s national soccer team because she didn’t want to play on Sundays. With time to try new things and learn new skills, Cramer-Rose took up the guitar, which led her to her musician husband, Chris Rose.

Aleisha Cramer-Rose and her family. (Photo courtesy Aliesha Cramer-Rose)

As a mother, Cramer-Rose teaches her children the same principles of practice and hard work she learned from her soccer years.

“I have the chance to try to teach my kids principles — values that are important,” Cramer-Rose said. “But then when they’re off at school I’m like, ‘Hopefully you’ve done all that you can do and you’re prepared to make good decisions.”

Cramer-Rose finds many similarities in being a mother and coach. Instead of three kids, however, she takes care of 28 when she’s on the field.

“In practices, you can try to teach the players things that will help them have more success,” Cramer-Rose said. “But then when it comes to the game, there’s only so much you can say to them on the field, and there’s only so much that they can actually hear you attempting to say to them on the field.”

Despite the challenges that come with coaching and mothering, Cramer-Rose embraces the opportunity.

“Because I have time to be a coach, I’m happier when I’m at home,” Cramer-Rose said. “I feel like I’m a better wife and a better mom. I just feel fortunate to be in the situation that I’m in because I have people around me that are willing to help me do what I love.”

Emily Ojuka Call

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