Galva native accompanies US Womens' Soccer Team to Olympics

Beth Welbers
Geneseo Republic
Aug. 5: The U.S. women's soccer team celebrates winning the bronze medal match against Australia.
The U.S. women's soccer team celebrates its bronze-medal victory over Australia.

Nicole Withrow played Varsity baseball and basketball during high school.  During her college years, something suddenly woke up in her and she decided that was where her life's direction was going to take her.  So it took her 6300 miles to Tokyo for the 2021 Olympics. 

Withrow is the Assistant Equipment Manager for the US Women's National Soccer Team, based out of Carson, CA.   

During 2019 Withrow was involved as an equipment manager with the US Youth National teams.  When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, there were no longer programs for up and coming players.  In October of 2020, the US Women's Training Camp began for the Women's National Team, training for the (hoped for) 2021 Olympics, and she was asked to assist the Equipment Manager. "it was a huge opportunity, I was so shocked.  Just in the right place at the right time," commented Withrow.

Her duties include assisting Equipment Manager Jake Schoch set up the field for practices and games, keeping track of the team's equipment when they are on the road, setting up the equipment rooms at hotels and locker rooms for games.  The National Team played a number of games across the country previous to heading to Tokyo, and Withrow was charged with making sure everyone of the girls had what she needed to play, right down to steaming jerseys before game time.  

"It literally takes a village to support the team as it goes from game to game.  There are lots of logistical issues to consider going from hotel to hotel," confided Withrow. 

In Tokyo, the staging of the soccer field was done by the Olympics own staff, so Withrow got to watch the first two games, Sweden and New Zealand, from a spectator's point of view, a perspective she seldom gets to enjoy.

She would do it again.  "It was a lot of work, but it was so cool, and I learned so much," said Withrow.  There was not a lot of interaction with teams of other countries, and they shared their hotel with the US Basketball team and the US Tennis team.  "It really was just train, game and hotel."

"I did get to know the staff and the trainers.  You work with them for two solid weeks every month, and you become friends."

"All in all, it was an unbelievable experience.  I was a very small part of that village, and proud that I got the opportunity."

About the reaction from the people of Galva, her hometown, Withrow admitted that she was shocked that they reacted the way they did.  "People have been so nice back home.  I'm a small town kid who got the chance of a lifetime."  Friends and family organized an Open House for Withrow once she returned from Tokyo so she could share her experiences with them. 

Withrow referenced her younger sister, when asked about cultural differences between the two countries.  Her sister Ashley is involved in FFA, and when Nicole mentioned they were eating Wagu beef over there, she was shocked since it is considered a delicacy stateside.