As Alyssa Naeher celebrates the U.S. women’s national team’s World Cup victory, the head girls soccer coach of a high school far down in North Carolina continues to celebrate more heartily than almost anyone else.
That’s because Charlotte (N.C.) Christian girls soccer coach Amanda Naeher is the twin sister of Alyssa Naeher, the starting goalkeeper who turned hero in the tournament’s semifinal victory against England, when she saved a would-be game-tying penalty kick, then stonewalled the Netherlands in the final.
The Naeher sisters grew up together in Trumbull, Conn., attending the tiny Christian Heritage School, where their father John Naeher was the director of student life. Both Naeher sisters emerged as soccer stars — Alyssa in goal and Amanda as one of the defenders in front of her, with Alyssa eventually attending Penn State and Amanda heading to Messiah College, less than two hours away from State College, Penn.
As both chased further soccer glory, it was Alyssa who continued to earn opportunities at a higher and higher level, competing for professional teams in Boston, Germany and, finally, Chicago. Meanwhile, Amanda parachuted in to a coaching role at Charlotte Christian just two years after graduating from Messiah.
She’s been there ever since, but recently abandoned her home in Charlotte for a full month to take in the entire Women’s World Cup in France, as reported by the Charlotte Observer. Amanda Naeher now serves as both the soccer coach and K-5 physical education teacher, while the twins’ younger sister, Abigail Korman, now lives nearby.
For a month, the non-goalkeeping twin was a soccer fan alone, celebrating her sister’s excellent play and moxie, right up to the point that she handed over the American flag she took with her to each game into the hands of Alyssa, who paraded on to the field with it after capturing the final.
In an interview with the Observer, Amanda Naeher highlighted the big moments one would assume stood out from the U.S.’s glory run, but also had a handful of other touching moments for her family that will linger long after the World Cup title has faded to the back burner of history.
I think the game that all of us were able to be at — my sister and my mom and everybody. That was the Spain game. We were able to hand down my nephew after, and he just wrapped her up in the biggest hug. I mean, she has a really, really special relationship with our nephew. She loves him.
Then I gave her a hug. My sister gave her a hug. My mom gave her a hug. It was her big moment, and we all got to experience it together. It was like, “Hey, this is what it’s about for us.” So that was the longest entry, because I was trying to just remember the feeling, the moments. …
And I think each time they played the national anthem, getting to see her out there, representing her country, friends, her family … that was powerful for sure. Just understanding the magnitude of the moments and the stage that she’s on, and a platform that hopefully she now has to share her story and to share her experiences. People are listening.
As it turns out, people are listening to both of the Naeher twins, one an internationally celebrated goalkeeper, one a high school coach, who got to celebrate the highest honor in their sport, together.