From the outside, U.S. women’s soccer star Julie Ertz appears to have it all together. She plays the sport she loves for a living, she’s one of the most recognizable faces on perhaps the most recognizable women’s soccer team in the world, and she’s married to prominent NFL tight end Zach Ertz.
Yet on a recent episode of the “Recalibrated” podcast with Mallory Brown — the newest addition to the Sports Spectrum Podcast Network — the eight-year national team veteran shared how God sustained her through His Word in the midst of some of the most difficult times in her life, and how she is now in a position to help others grow in their relationships with Christ as well.
Ertz helps to lead a group of women’s soccer players, as well as a women’s group with the wives and girlfriends of players on the Philadelphia Eagles, where her husband plays. In 2020, the group’s word of the year was “endurance,” which Ertz has written on her wall along with the Bible verse Hebrews 12:1.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” — Hebrews 12:1
“This race was already kind of written,” Ertz said on the podcast. “Don’t get caught up in the chaos and the things you can’t control. And I think that piece is kind of something that is peace, because if something is going for us and it feels like you’re in a storm, one of us will say it and it’s at peace because it’s like, ‘Wow, this was already breathed in before the year already started.'”
Ertz said she has been reading through the Bible’s Old Testament with Brown, which has helped to give her a greater understanding of the New Testament, be more vulnerable, and become a better witness to the women she seeks to lead.
“When I read the Word,” Ertz said, “I feel like I have a better understanding of not just how to be a better person, but a better supporter, a better wife, a better friend, and really just see life in a more clear perspective.”
She added, “I feel like the Old Testament is so important because it leads up to everything that is about the New Testament. I think that only grows and strengthens your testimony and your understanding of who you want to be.”
Earlier this year, as professional athletes considered the best way to address the racial tensions in America, Ertz turned to prayer. She and NWSL teammate Casey Short knelt and prayed for unity with tears in their eyes before their first game of the league’s re-start.
Afterward, the teammates released a joint statement:
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Church was a part of Ertz’s life growing up, but she said it wasn’t until her formative college years that she truly began to understand what a relationship with Christ was. She surrounded herself with believers who helped her to come to a greater understanding of God’s purpose in her life.
“College is a time where you kind of just learn a lot about yourself. I think you ask a lot of questions about yourself: ‘What’s your purpose? There’s got to be more to this.’ I think you kind of get sick and tired of the partiality and the worldly views,” she said.
In 2016, Ertz wasn’t playing as much as she would’ve liked professionally, and she had reached a low point in her career.
“I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t angry,” Ertz said. “It’s hard to not be angry at Him. … I was just angry in a lot of things. And I knew that I shouldn’t be. I at least had that at my core where I knew it wasn’t right to have that.”
Ertz said it was the first time she dropped to her knees, overwhelmed and questioning God. It was God who brought her up again.
“He showed up when it was important for me,” she said, later adding, “I was so grateful to have a basic foundation [of faith]. That’s the biggest thing — what are you building it on?”
— NWSL (@NWSL) March 8, 2020
So as one of the most chaotic years in recent memory winds to a close, Ertz is still considered by many to be among the greatest women’s soccer players in the world. But that doesn’t keep her from continuing to share about her trust in God, who is and always will be the hope of the world.
– NWSL’s Julie Ertz, Casey Short pray to God during on-field embrace
– Zach Ertz, Julie Ertz, Carson Wentz emphasize importance of God’s Word
– MAGAZINE: Julie Ertz leads U.S. women’s national team with love
– Julie Ertz wins U.S. Soccer’s Female Athlete of 2019 as she plays ‘to glorify Him’
– Eagles’ Zach Ertz, wife Julie give away free meals for Thanksgiving