By Wendy Tilley

Julie Ertz, a two-time World Cup winner, knew she had to hustle to return to the national team after having a baby.

A boys’ team offered a helping hand, as detailed in the New York Times:

Even before Julie Ertz gave birth to her son, Madden, last August, she knew it would be a challenge to return to the fitness and form that would be required of her if she wanted to play in a third Women’s World Cup.

Pregnancy and childbirth, unlike sports injuries, offer no reliable timeline for return, no proven handbook to guide a player back from what is a life-changing event. More important, Ertz, who was 30 when Madden was born, wanted to gauge her progress discreetly before she made any promises to the national team. To pull that off without attracting attention, Ertz was going to need help.

A group of teenage boys answered the call.

Ertz was in Phoenix, which is her hometown and where her husband, Zach, plays tight end for the Arizona Cardinals.

She reached out to two of the coaches who knew her best: Paul Taylor and Matt Midkiff, who had helped guide her development from preteen prodigy to college all-American. Taylor and Midkiff connected Ertz with Phoenix Rising, a United Soccer League club with a Major League Soccer Academy program. Ertz arranged to begin training with the club’s under-19 team in February.

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