USWNT Stars and Sisters Kristie and Sam Mewis on Inspiring Each Other on Journey to Olympics
After narrowly missing out on the roster in 2016, U.S. national women's team player Sam Mewis is set to become a first-time Olympian this summer at the Tokyo Games. And she won't be the only Mewis.
Just under an hour after Sam got the good news, her older sister Kristie found out she'd be heading to Tokyo too. The duo are now set to be the first sisters to represent U.S. Soccer at a major tournament, and achieving this dream together has made it even more special.
"When she confirmed that she made it too, it just made it a lot sweeter and a lot more exciting," Sam, 28, tells PEOPLE in the latest issue, on newsstands Friday. "We actually FaceTimed our parents together right away to tell them, and that was just a really special moment for all four of us to be on the phone together and celebrating."
"I feel like the only thing that could have made me making it better was that Kristie made it too," Sam adds.
That wasn't always the case. Growing up in Hanson, Massachusetts — just outside of Boston — the sisters had a hard time getting along.
"We were just polar opposites," Kristie, 30, explains. "It is so funny that we're best friends now because we literally hated each other growing up. But at the same time, we were kind of like secretive best friends because we literally did everything with soccer together."
Soccer bonded the pair from a really young age and they "competed non-stop" on everything they could, Kristie says. It paid off when they started getting national attention.
"Kristie had a big influence on me from a competitiveness standpoint," Sam says. "I think that because she was doing all these cool things with soccer, of course, I wanted to do them too, and of course I was always measuring myself up against her."
"I think that's obviously why we are the players that we are today. We were able to push each other and just literally compete every single day," she adds.
Successful college stints brought about their biggest dream: playing for the U.S. women's national soccer team. Both played in a game together in March 2014, becoming the first sisters to do so.
For more on the Mewis sisters, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE.
But the path wasn't easy after that. Kristie was soon cut from the team and struggled to succeed in the National Women's Soccer League. In the meantime, Sam became a mainstay with the team and, eventually, a World Cup champion in 2019.
After years of doing everything together, their careers were at odds.
"You do feel a little bit worthless and like your career doesn't really matter anymore," Kristie says of being cut from the national team. "You just don't really feel worthy anymore of being a professional soccer player. I kind of lost my momentum. I lost my motivation. I lost what I truly wanted for a really long time."
An injury, and motivation from Sam's success, led to Kristie reevaluating her career and remembering her goals.
"Seeing Sam be so successful, win a World Cup and just really establish herself on that team, it was definitely inspiring," Kristie says. "But of course there was a little bit of jealousy in there where like, not jealousy as in I hated her, but I wanted to do that with her. So there was a moment in my career where, after tearing my ACL, I was kind of like, 'Kristie, what are you doing? This isn't the road you want to be taking.' "
Sam was by her side, never doubting that Kristie could join her on the team again.
"I've always really understood that I wouldn't have had the opportunities I did without her," Sam says. "We're sisters, we were raised the same way. We're made of the same stuff. So I kind of knew that whatever Kristie wanted, she was capable of doing."
And she did. Kristie exploded in the NWSL's shortened 2020 season with her team the Houston Dash. Then she played with the national team for the first time in six years last November — and scored.
Kristie was back, and now they're about to achieve one of their biggest dreams together.
"When we get to work together, when we get to take little pieces of each other, we fill in what the other one lacks," Sam says.
"I couldn't have done any of it without her. I just feel so lucky to have her," Kristie adds. "It's so overwhelming and crazy that as sisters, we're going to the Olympics together. I couldn't have written it up better myself."
To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics beginning July 23rd and the Tokyo Paralympics beginning August 24th on NBC.
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