This Is For Katie by Naomi Girma

There are friends, and then there are right friends.

Katie Meyer was a true friend in every sense of the word. If you knew her, then I will never be able to do her justice. If you didn’t know her, I’ll just have to try my best.

I have this random memory that tells me everything about the kind of person she was. During my junior year at Stanford, I tore my ACL. It’s clearly an athlete’s nightmare, especially in such a critical year. Your entire routine—your entire identity—is taken away. I had a great group of friends that helped me get through it, but Katie always took it to a whole other level. When I finally felt strong enough to jog for the first time after my surgery, she kept saying, “Let me know the exact time you’re going to physical therapy because I’ll be there to cheer you on. “

But this was right in the middle of COVID and the precautions at Stanford were pretty intense. We had to book a time at the facility and check in at the front desk to be able to do anything. They made you fill out a health questionnaire and get a red stamp on your badge just to enter the building. It was serious business and I kept telling Katie, “They won’t let you in!”

But she said, “Don’t worry, I’ll find a way.”

She had the cheeky grin on her face that she always did.

“Who would ever say no to this? I’m certified!”

She turned over her badge and in the place where we were supposed to get our security stamps she had written:


Naturally they turned her away at the door.

She said, “Don’t worry. When you walk on the treadmill, look for me.”

I’m thinking: OK, classic goalkeeper behaviour. You have lost your mind. See you back at the college.

If you knew her, then I will never be able to do her justice. If you didn’t know her, I’ll just have to try my best.

Naomi Girma

I went into the PT room and forgot all about it. I do my exercises and talk to the coach. Finally I get up on the AlterG machine to do what was probably the slowest run in human history and like 10 steps in I hear this knocking on the window in front of me.

It’s Katie. In a way.

See, the entire room is covered with this one-way tinted glass, for privacy. The kind of glass where you can’t see in, but you can definitely see out. But if you smash your body up against it super hard, you can get a little peek inside.

So all I see is Katie’s whole face smashed against the glass and she’s banging on the window going “Woooooooooo!!!!!!!!! Let’s goooooo, no!!! Let’s gooooo!!! ! You got this!!!”

I’m jogging, trying to focus, and her face is like:

( >_< )

Courtesy of Naomi Girma (2)

This continued for 10 minutes. I couldn’t help but laugh. The coach couldn’t stop laughing. It was ridiculous. It was fun. It was perfect.

It was Katie.

The best friend I ever had. The most unapologetic, positive, caring person in the world. The first person to be open and talk about his feelings. The first person you would turn to when you needed to talk about yours. And the last person you would think would take their own life.

On March 1, 2022, just over a year after that day in physical therapy, Katie died by suicide. It’s hard to process that sentence, even now. Her death shocked the entire Stanford campus and the entire football world. For me and for the rest of her close friends, it left a void in our lives that is so deep it is impossible to put into words.

Grief doesn’t work the way you think. It is not a straight line. It is not a formula. It is a red.

Some days it still feels like it just happened. Some days you have a random memory and you feel it all over again so hard. When you lose a true friend, the hardest part isn’t the big moments. It’s actually the little ones. It’s the everyday, boring moments of life that they made so funny and so funny and so meaningful.

We won a national championship together. We traveled together on our dream trip to London to watch Premier League matches. We did so many cool things. But you know what I miss the most? I miss going to Starbucks in the student union after practice to “grind” on some homework with Katie and Sophia Smith. We started studying for about 15 minutes before someone slammed their laptop in and said, “Wait, real quick.”

Thus began two hours of shooting the dirt and procrastinating and laughing until it hurt. Just talking about everything and nothing, you know? Just being together and messing around and texting the group chat: “Cruise through Starbs! Pull up!”

I miss saying, “OK, OK, we have to stop. This is Stanford. Time to paint. Be serious, be serious.”

… And did two hours of studying and another two hours of BS until they kicked us out of Starbs at closing time.

When you lose a true friend, the hardest part isn’t the big moments. It’s actually the little ones.

Naomi Girma

There was nothing better than that and I miss it so much. They don’t teach you that when you’re a kid. They don’t show that in the movies. The best moments aren’t what you see on Instagram. The best moments are the ones in between, when nothing happens and you are with the people you love.

I remember her dancing like a fool in the passenger seat of my car to every song.

I remember her trying a falafel for the first time and saying it tasted like a pine cone.

I remember going for a run through Hyde Park on our London trip and thinking: We are really here.

I remember every pre-match, and I’m talking about football, of course.

I remember sitting at Starbucks late at night talking about our future as well as trying to plan our lives. The trips we wanted to go on, the majors we had to choose, the internships, the dreams….

Katie’s was always 1, 2, 3. That never changed.

  1. Play pro
  2. Go to law school
  3. Become the President of the United States

You never bet against Katie. She would find a way.

I was much more indecisive. I remember she always said to me: “You’re going to make the national team, no. You’re going to play the World Cup.”

And I’d be like, “Um, I don’t even know…I really hope so…”

She would say, “No, it happens, no. Trust me. It happens.”

Well my friend….

You were right. You were always right.

John Todd/ISI Photos/Getty Images

None of this would have happened without you. You touched so many people’s lives in just 22 years. You wanted to change the world more than anyone I’ve ever known.

So we want to make sure we carry on your legacy. We will make sure your light never goes out.

With the help of Sophia Smith, Sofia Huerta and many of my teammates on the USWNT, we have partnered with Common Goal to launch a mental health initiative during this World Cup that we hope will save lives.

We know how important it is to destigmatize the conversation around mental health, especially for the millions of young people around the country who will be watching this World Cup, so FOX Sports will dedicate 1% of its broadcast coverage to highlight the importance of ​​mental health across all its platforms.

We know firsthand how many people, especially student athletes, are struggling in silence, and we want to use our platform in this huge moment for something bigger than football.

That’s exactly what Katie would have done. But she would never have stopped there.

We do not want this to end at mere consciousness. We want to make sure that young people have the tools to cope with depression, anxiety, stress and the very bad days when it feels like the weight of the world is on their shoulders and it can never get better.

It may always Get better.

After the World Cup, we will deploy mental health professionals to youth sports organizations in communities across the country to ensure the coaches and players have the tools and skills to know when someone is dealing with a mental health problem and how to get the right help .

This is personal to me and to everyone who knew Katie.

I must be honest, it is not easy to talk about this on the eve of a World Cup. It’s still very raw to me. I know what an honor it is to be part of a World Cup team. I know all about the pressure and the expectations.

But I know how valuable life is also. I know how many people are suffering. I know that the people who smile the most and laugh the loudest and love people the hardest and shine the brightest…sometimes they go through things that you could never imagine.

We know firsthand how many people, especially student athletes, are struggling in silence, and we want to use our platform in this huge moment for something bigger than football.

Naomi Girma

We want to help them carry the burden.

If we have one mission, it is that young people should feel less alone.

With Katie Meyer in your life, you were never alone. She was always there. She would always find a way. She would be pressed up against the glass, banging on the walls and saying, “No, I’m here!!! Let’s go, no!!! You got this!!! You got this!!!”

If you could bottle her energy, the world would be a much better place.

Through this project, her spirit, her warmth and her legacy will live on. We will make sure of that.

This WC is for you my friend.

With love,


For more information information on how the USWNT and Common Goal have joined forces to ensure mental health conversations can become a focus in soccer during the 2023 World Cup, click here.

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