THE WILD CHILD
Sydney Leroux challenged her mother from the very beginning. Her mother remembers playing in a softball game, glancing toward the sideline and doing a double take; there was three-year-old “Syd,” climbing to the very top of a “hugely, hugely tall” fence. “It was absolutely terrifying,” recalls Sandi.
“I was wild,” says Leroux. “That’s really the best way to describe it; I had to be doing something, pushing buttons.”
In school, she always ended up in the front office. “I was a pretty bad kid,” she recalls. “I would get up when I was supposed to be sitting down. I was in my own world and no one could be a part of that but me. Recess would end, everyone else would come in, but in my head, it wasn’t time for me to come in yet. I’d still be out there kicking the ball.”
On the behavior report cards, Leroux would white out the teacher’s grade and replace it with a good grade. “It would be obvious, childish handwriting. But I’d give it to my mom, totally thinking I could trick her. Plus I got home before my mom, so I’d just go through the voicemail, erasing all the voicemails saying “Syd did this or that.”
SOCCER STEADYING GROUND
At fourteen, Leroux moved by herself to the United States. “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to play for the United States and I knew that I could – because my dad was American. I saw all those big names in ‘99, and I thought it was so cool – that was what I wanted. I wanted to be known for being a soccer player and doing something that I love.”
In Arizona, she found a coach and a team that would make her better. But it’s not easy to be on your own at fourteen. She lived in three different houses trying to find one that fit; she missed her mom, and she had a hard time fitting in. “You know, at that age, girls are mean, they don’t take into account how you make people feel. It was terrible,” says Leroux. “Everyone already had their group of friends. I was an outsider, an outcast. There were people who made it better, but it was hard. I’d sleep to pass the days. I’d call my mom crying.”
The field was Sydney’s relief, soccer was my outlet; it was the only thing that made me sane. I just dove right in. I’d go to the boys practice. Then I would go to the ‘89 boys, ‘89 girls, practice with the ‘90s; sometimes three practices a day. Eventually I got the call for the National Team camp – and it was all worth it.”
“I was very much a tomboy,” says Leroux. “I went through a stage, more than a stage actually – it was like years. I wanted to be a boy, so badly.” She convinced her mom to let her cut her hair really short and told people her name was Christopher. Leroux’s mother says, “The school would call my house and say, ‘She’s saying she’s a boy,’ and I would say, ‘Nope, she’s a girl. She’s just going through a stage, let her be.’”
“It’s just kind of funny because now, everyone sees me as this girly girl, but back then, I took tomboy to a whole new level,” says Leroux.