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  • Writer's pictureOliver Hunt

Hard Work and Happiness: Talking with Tyler Lussi about her stellar season with the Courage

After switching teams and positions this season, Tyler Lussi has been one of North Carolina’s leading goal scorers, literally flexing on the competition. We sat down to chat with Lussi about her season with the Courage, her joy on the field, and why she doesn’t drink coffee.


Tyler Lussi prepares for a cross in game against the Portland Thorns. Photo by Kallie Hansel-Tennes for WSX.

If you're not familiar, Tyler Lussi has been playing in the NWSL for seven years. She was with Portland for the first part of her career from 2017 to 2021, after which she was traded to Angel City for their debut season. She spent a year out in Los Angeles before being traded to the Courage for this year. A graduate of Princeton, Lussi has been a quiet success on every team she's been a part of. She made 42 appearances in 5 years with Portland, scoring five goals in that time. She was a key part of the Angel City defense, a position she wasn't familiar with at the time, and played 20 games for Los Angeles on the backline before coming to the Courage.


Switching things up at Angel City

After playing forward in college and with the Thorns, Lussi was asked to step into a different role during her season with Angel City. Because of defensive injuries during the 2022 season, Lussi stepped in to play primarily as a right back, a total position switch. She recalls being nervous about her first game on the backline since they were playing the Spirit and she knew she would have to defend against Trinity Rodman. She cites leaning on her teammates at Angel City, such as center-back Megan Reid, and having to learn every day. Lussi said that even though it was challenging, “I’m the type of player, I’m going to do whatever I need for the team, that’s always been my MO.”


Tyler Lussi dribbles for Angel City FC in game against Kansas City Current on August 19, 2022. Photo credit to Angel City FC

Lussi would go on to have an exceptional season with Los Angeles, with 46 interceptions and a 100% pass completion rate for the 2022 season. Although she mentioned missing her teammates and the relationships she built with them in LA, she made sure to note that she doesn’t “miss the traffic in LA at all.”


Being back in the frontline for the Courage has brought success for both Tyler and the team; she has scored four goals for them this season and has been key to their success by winning balls high up the field and providing service into the box. Lussi says the Courage is all about the details in practice, spending time reviewing film and working “every day to get one percent better.”


Settling into the Courage

The North Carolina Courage had one of the biggest offseason overhauls, bringing in a lot of new talent to hopefully have a better 2023 season, including Tyler. She told us that her first days with the Courage were very welcoming and that “half the team is new so everyone’s got to get to know each other,”. But the Courage clicked quickly, and have become great friends on and off the field. The team mentality has been “togetherness” and “we above me,” which has clearly shown in their results so far this season.


While her trade to the Courage was “very unexpected,” Lussi said it “turned out to be the best move that could’ve possibly happened, I’m really happy to be here,”. Lussi had nothing but positive things to say about the coaching staff and her teammates and told us that she’s felt very valued and supported by the whole team.


“No matter what, this team has each other’s backs, and also you see everybody celebrating each other, and I think that’s really crucial to the culture of this team.”

Lussi said that head coach Sean Nahas reached out to tell her that they saw her playing in the front line for the Courage, which was very exciting. She was happy to get back into her natural position but gives credit to her year of playing defense for improving her game. She’s able to think more about both sides of the ball and pointed out “as a forward, you’re the first line of defense, so that’s always my mentality.”


Being back in the frontline for the Courage has brought success for both Tyler and the team; she has scored four goals for them this season and has been key to their success by winning balls high up the field and providing service into the box. Lussi says the Courage is all about the details in practice, spending time reviewing film and working “every day to get one percent better.”


Showcasing Joy

Lussi is well known for flexing her biceps after scoring as a celebration, rolling up her sleeves to do so. She even joked with us that she hates wearing sleeves so much that they're going to have to get her a jersey without them. In regard to the goal celebrations, Lussi credits her childhood for her confidence. She was always surrounded by sports as a kid, with everyone in her family being very athletic. She told us about the pull-up competitions that used to be held between herself, her dad, and her brothers, leading her to have always had very defined arms. She hopes that her flexing helps to inspire kids to “feel confident in who they are,” And of course there’s a bit of fun involved as well.


“I’m very excited after I score, and gonna flex a little bit.”

Tyler Lussi celebrates a goal with the North Carolina Courage. Photo courtesy of @TheNCCourage /Twitter

Lussi has always had a confident mentality and tries to focus on the positives, which helps her performance on the field. She said that she’s had the incredible support of her teammates and coaching staff, and she told us “I have to believe in myself at the end of the day,” in order to set herself up for success.


Lussi had an ambitious answer for what she’d be doing if she wasn’t playing soccer.


“I’d want to be the commissioner of this league or the head athletic director at Princeton.”

Lussi says that she’d like to take the league public, in order to grow the game and women’s sports in general. While the league is currently growing at “a very steady pace, we wouldn’t be here without the fans,” and Lussi thinks getting fans involved in league ownership could bring things to the next level for the league. Currently, there are lots of high-profile investors, like celebrities which Lussi says she saw a lot of out in LA. But in terms of the long-term growth of the game, “fan investment is huge.”


When asked about her coffee order, Lussi threw a curveball when she told us “I don’t drink coffee,”. She told us about having had to drink it a few times in college when she needed to pull an all-nighter and recalls crashing the next morning and having to drink another one and not enjoying it. She joked “I’ve been always pretty wired and have a lot of energy anyway, so I think coffee would take it to a whole other level I don’t think people want to see.”


You can catch Tyler Lussi scoring bangers and flexing on opponents with the North Carolina Courage, who are currently sitting comfortably in the top half of the standings and are on their way to a Challenge Cup semi-final.

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