The Orlando Pride hosted their first preseason training session of 2019 last Monday, March 4, and since it’s Orlando, controversy soon followed. Pride forward Sydney Leroux, currently 24 weeks pregnant, was reported to be “working out in a non-contact capacity” by beat writer Jordan Culver. Leroux herself posted two pictures of the training on both her Twitter and Instagram pages, along with the caption, “I didn’t think I’d be starting off preseason 5.5 months pregnant but here we are.”
I didn’t think I’d be starting off preseason 5.5 months pregnant but here we are. pic.twitter.com/smuA4nFx9n— Sydney Leroux Dwyer (@sydneyleroux) March 4, 2019
While the pictures appear to be innocent and certainly do not show any evidence of Leroux engaging in activities that could be detrimental to her pregnancy, many of the internet’s finest keyboard warriors took notice. According to the American Pregnancy Association, physical “exercise during pregnancy is important and can help with some common discomforts of pregnancy and even help prepare your body for labor and delivery.” The article continues:
“Overall and in most cases, exercise is safe during pregnancy. You will usually find it is even recommended. Typically, the first rule of thumb is if you were physically active before you were pregnant, it is likely safe to remain active during pregnancy. More than likely, your healthcare provider will tell you to remain active, as long as it is comfortable and there are no other health conditions suggesting otherwise.”
As one could certainly assume, no one other than Leroux, her family, and her physician knows the intimate details of her pregnancy. It should then be evident that only those people get to weigh in on how she chooses to exercise and care for herself during it. This is also far from the first time the issue of a female athlete continuing to play their sport while pregnant has come up. Unfortunately, it still came as no surprise that the harsh words and criticism from the online universe came quick, prompting the following slightly passive aggressive response from Leroux later that evening.
I just do non contact stuff. Ball work. Getting touches in. I don’t put myself in situations where the ball can ricochet or I can get hit. No high intensity running and I listen to my OB (who knows more than people on twitter telling me what I shouldn’t be doing with MY body ). https://t.co/GoFOXXYVyb— Sydney Leroux Dwyer (@sydneyleroux) March 5, 2019
The following day, Leroux quote tweeted a now unavailable tweet and pointed out that “99% of those who have criticized [her] ‘training’ have been men.” Overall, both Leroux and her husband, Orlando City striker Dom Dwyer, who has been known to take to Twitter a little too quickly in the past, handled the situation with grace and class by choosing to take the high road and not feed into the drama. By the time the new week rolled around, the clamor around the incident had mostly ceased. Late Monday evening, March 11, the Pride teased that Leroux would be appearing on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Tuesday morning. Suffice it to say, the interview did not disappoint.
In the short, live-via-FaceTime segment, Leroux was first asked about her plan for playing soccer while she is pregnant. She responded that she intends “just to keep fit, and get touches on the ball so it’s easier for me to come back when I do give birth.” Leroux continued, “I’m not like going into any crazy tackles or putting myself in any situation where I could get hurt.” When directly questioned about the backlash surrounding her training photos, Leroux provided a calm, thoughtful answer.
“For the most part, I think women supporting women is definitely a thing. I’ve gotten a lot of stick from men actually, telling me what I should and shouldn’t be doing with my body. [...] Some of the comments I’ve received are pretty awful, but I have a two-and-a-half-year-old. I’ve done this before. I would never put my body or my baby or my children in harm’s way. I’m very careful with what I’m doing.”
Leroux was resilient in her determination to not let the haters get her down.
“I’m happy. I have a happy family. We’re good here. [...] Playing soccer brings me joy and I think a happy mom makes a happy baby.” With a statement that sounded as though it could be directly from the aforementioned American Pregnancy Association article, Leroux advised fellow moms that “[being active] is super, super important. It prepares you for birth. Labor is a marathon, so it’s me getting my body ready.” Due on July 4, she plans to return to soccer “as soon as possible, but the baby will probably make that decision.”
Considering how depleted the Pride’s roster will be over the summer due to the 2019 Women’s World Cup, here’s hoping that Leroux-Dwyer baby number two decides to make a happy, healthy appearance sooner rather than later.