When a player in any sport plays for their hometown team, there are varying levels of excitement. Some players feel an extra burden while others love the chance to represent where they’re from. You can definitely put Sky Blue FC‘s Paige Monaghan in the latter group. When I asked the Roxbury, New Jersey native if there is an extra level of pride playing for her hometown team, she answered, “Oh, for sure.”
“I am a Jersey girl through and through. My parents grew up in New Jersey. I grew up in New Jersey,” Monaghan told BGN. “I did venture out to the Midwest for college (Butler University), but getting drafted to Sky Blue FC was huge for me.”
“I am very close with my family who is beyond supportive of me and whatever team I am on. There is that extra sense of Jersey Pride being on Sky Blue FC which I am blessed to be a part of.”
Her supportive family had a viral moment of its own this tournament. When Paige scored the first goal of the NWSL Challenge Cup for Sky Blue FC, her family’s awesome reaction was captured in her sister’s TikTok video below.
“They are amazing and may I add hilarious! Early in my soccer career, they put my dreams of soccer ahead of anything else,” Paige said. “There was sacrifice. For example, instead of family vacations, it was my soccer tournaments that turned into a family vacation. They had/have so much faith in me when I didn’t in myself. I will forever be thankful for my family being so selfless, believing in me, and putting my dream above anything. I play because I love the game, but ultimately, to make my family proud. I am simply blessed with my family.”
Paige is definitely making them proud early in her professional career. She scored two goals and added an assist in her rookie season in 2019 and her performance earned her a call-up to the USWNT camp in December. She said, “I have been apart of U-23 camps and tournaments which really was special. The call up to the USWNT camp in December was great and truly an honor. It put my ultimate goal right in front of me. I want to be the best version of myself, play to my best ability, and be a part of the best team in the world. Of course, it was motivating, but more of a reminder why I do what I do every day for my future self.”
This summer, she’s started all four preliminary round matches for Sky Blue FC. Discussing the bubble experience so far, Paige explained, “It is wild to sit back and think of what we are doing. This is so far from the normal. Last year we would have home games, train for 5 days in prep for a game, where here we have two days to prep. The league has made a huge effort for our safety meanwhile having games which is appreciated.”
“The most fun part has really been living with my teammates. It is a little college like being in the hotel and going to train. The views are great, the soccer is fun, but my teammates are definitely the highlight of my days. We laugh a ton.”
As a self-described Jersey girl through and through, Paige was very willing to weigh in on the never-ending Pork Roll vs. Taylor Ham debate. She said, “TAYLOR HAM. Come on. It is the classic marketing people!”
After making a comparison to people saying Ziploc instead of just plastic bag or storage, she adds, “I mean I get both sides, but Pork Roll doesn’t roll off the tongue the same. Like ‘Yeah I’ll have a pork roll!’ I cannot wait to have a TEC SPK (real ones know!) after this Utah trip.”
Monaghan lists Bruce Springsteen and Halsey as two of her favorite musical artists from The Garden State and like the latter’s hit song, it’s “Now or Never” for Sky Blue FC as they enter their quarterfinal matchup vs. Washington Spirit on Saturday at 12:30 PM ET.