Ashley Lawrence was ready to kick some butt. Not only did the reigning Canada Soccer female player of the year have crucial games lined up in the French league—her club, Paris Saint-Germain, was gearing up for a top-of-the-table clash against rival team Lyon—she was also all set to go for gold with Team Canada at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. But a global pandemic hit the 24-year-old fullback-midfielder with the ultimate curveball. After months of build-up, suddenly everything was put on pause.
Only, Lawrence doesn’t have a pause button. In the latest episode of “Check the Technique,” Lawrence shows you three essential soccer techniques she’s been refining at home, from the first touch to the Cruyff turn to the lob shot. You can bet she’ll leave the competition shook with these moves once the Tokyo Games finally go down in 2021. Check out the episode above, then read our convo with her, where we touch on today’s civil unrest, how she’s been tackling food insecurity in her hometown of Brampton, and her Olympic-sized ambitions.
How’s that isolation life been?
It has definitely been interesting. I've had some unexpected family time, which has been awesome. But also, I’m just taking this time to rest my body, rest my mind while staying in shape. And honestly, I find myself doing a lot more meditation. I'm just taking those moments to kind of explore different types of recovery protocols, which has been cool. I’ve also been dedicating my time to some of my projects, like Yes She Canada. So, it's been busy, but in different ways.
It's been an intense month in the world lately with the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests. What are your thoughts on everything that's been happening?
Yeah, it has been intense and I think just seeing everything that's going on has really just brought a lot of perspective to me. I think it's just amazing to see people from all over the world coming together in unity for this cause. I think the message is clear and it's to continue to fight until equality is the norm. And I think that, you know, I’ve made a few posts on my social media just on the importance of listening—like, just listening to stories of Black people. For them to be vulnerable to share their stories, taking the time to learn in any way that we can. And then just sharing in our experiences together and then ultimately just acting in any way that we can to help.
"I’m really looking forward to going to this next [Olympics]. We really hope to get gold. But ultimately, the goal is to inspire those next generations coming through."
For sure. On a lighter note, are there any new hobbies or routines you've picked up while you've been in isolation?
Yes, I've actually started gardening. So at my apartment in Paris with my boyfriend, we have a mini garden, just with such a busy kind of lifestyle, it's been easy to not really maintain it as much as possible. So I really been outside, out in the garden, just learning a few things with that. It’s been cool. I've also actually cut my own hair by watching a YouTube tutorial. So, that was cool, too. Now I can say that I know how to cut my own hair and I'm working on a website for Yes She Canada. So, that's been a lot of work. But it's coming along good and hopefully it's completed soon.
What kind of workouts are you doing at home?
It's been awesome—through Team Canada we've had Zoom workouts. So we've had all of my teammates together and it's cool because it's like a form of motivation as well, just to know that we're all going through it together. It’s been like a bonding experience, but also keeping us really accountable to stay in shape. So that's been great. There's been some strength sessions, some cardio, and then just myself going on runs. For the longest time, the actual fields and parks weren't open, so I'm now I’m just going on runs and also doing some workouts from YouTube. There's some hard ones out there!
Let's talk about smoothies. What generally goes into your post-workout smoothie?
So typically, it's pretty simple. In France, we usually have a protein shake and it could be whey protein mixed with milk or water. That's something that we have, like, religiously after every session, every game. But for myself, I have a blender at home, so I love to make smoothies—I just make shakes and, like, mix different fruits together with milk. I've also been experimenting with some other things like aloe vera and just seeing the health benefits to that.
Team Canada was all set to go for gold in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Are you disappointed you weren't able to compete?
Initially when I heard the news, I was definitely devastated just because it was a few months leading up to the competition. And so, we were working and training really hard for this, as have many athletes. We're in the same position and so, that was kind of the initial feeling. But I was really proud, actually, of the Canadian Olympic Committee. We were the first to make the announcement that we weren’t sending our Canadian athletes. And so, it was just natural that other countries followed suit. It became clear because the priority was the health of the athletes, the staff, and the communities that would have traveled out to support. Health always came first. And so, it just became really normal to understand why it was postponed. And it also gave me and other athletes another chance to build on our game and become more sharp leading up into next year's Tokyo Olympics.
You guys are gonna kill it once things pick up again.
Yeah, it's gonna be cool. Being now, like, back-to-back bronze medalists, obviously our goal is to be gold medalists. And so, that's in the works and we're really looking forward to it, but it's just been cool because I wasn't a part of the first Olympics win and I was really inspired to represent Canada. And then I went to my first Olympics and really helped the team, and was just grateful to represent Canada. And now, I’m really looking forward to going to this next one. We really hope to get gold. But ultimately, the goal is to inspire those next generations coming through.
Awesome. You recently took Ryan Reynolds up on the All In Challenge. You chose to tackle food insecurity in your own hometown of Brampton through your organization Yes She Canada. Tell me about that.
Yeah, it's actually really cool. So the All In Challenge was created to tackle food insecurity, and that aligns with Yes She Canada. And so, I created that a few years ago to inspire young girls. And we have events where there are national team professional players present, and there are some fun soccer activities. Just a moment of sharing between young girls and females that are examples. And so, there's also proceeds and food donations that are raised to go towards charitable partners. And so, when I got that nomination from Ryan Reynolds it was awesome because, again, it's something that is important to me and important to Yes She Canada. And so, yeah, for my All-In Challenge, a young girl and another guest are able to come out to our next event and will be able to take part and help tackle food insecurity.
Let's talk about your hometown, Brampton. I know it's been producing a lot of stars lately, from Tory Lanez to Jessie Reyez to Jonathan Osorio to yourself. Tell me about why you think Brampton is producing so many of these stars.
I think that Brampton, like many cities within Canada, we're so lucky. We just have so much diversity. And I think that really breeds talent and creativity. And so, I think it's really cool. Growing up, I always had a vision to be a professional soccer player. And so, fast-forwarding to now, just to see the platform that I have. Having so many young girls say that they're inspired by me, it just gives me a good feeling because, you know, I want to be an example. And to continue to just to be an example for Brampton, but also for young girls. So, yeah, I think that no matter what, I always know that I'm representing Brampton and I'm so proud of that. But I also want to be an example for young girls and just let them know that they can achieve their dreams if they set their mind to it.