October 22, 2018
International soccer legend Christie Pearce Rampone visited campus to practice with the women’s soccer team, chat with coaches and deliver a talk that moved her standing-room-only audience to cheers.
All thanks to alumnus Steven Hegna ’89, who simply wanted to share Rampone’s message of hard work and victory over adversity with his alma mater.
“I just thought it would be a great opportunity for the soccer players and the entire community on campus and off to have a person of Christie’s stature on campus,” said Hegna, whose daughter Sara is a junior Communication major at McDaniel studying abroad this semester in Australia. “I wanted everyone to have a chance to hear and be inspired by her amazing story.”
Hegna, who owns Arna Marketing Group, Inc. in Branchburg, N.J., works out at the same gym as Rampone and U.S. Women’s National Soccer team scout, Christy Holly, who also joined in the McDaniel practice. Hegna’s wife, Mette, helped host the visit.
It takes only a few minutes with Hegna and Rampone to understand the seemingly unlikely friendship — they share a can-do attitude that highlights their words and expressions. Neither takes “no” for an answer. Both have a firm grasp on the notion “if it were easy, everyone would do it” but they do it anyway.
Rampone is the longest serving captain of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (2008–2015), and the first four-time Olympian in the history of the squad. She started with the team in 1997 and was a member of the 1999 Women’s World Cup Team. As captain, she led the team to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Championship and to three Olympic Gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2012.
The same year Rampone was on the first World Cup team, Hegna went to work at his family’s struggling envelope business. He later bought out the business and built it into Arna Marketing, providing full-scale integrated marketing and communications services to regional, national and international business-to-business companies.
Neither has ever looked back — instead they are always imagining what’s next.
“I was one of eight kids,” said Hegna. “My parents struggled to send me to Western Maryland, and I learned to get things done.”
After 20 years of steady growth, Hegna’s Arna Marketing is at the point where he could travel or rest or devote his time to one hobby or another, but instead he’s looking in a different direction.
“To me there are still many more opportunities and achievements out there for me,” he said, adding that he hasn’t quite decided which he’ll pursue but resting on his laurels just isn’t in his nature.
That’s exactly the route Rampone took and explained to the young players who filled more than half the audience. Excelling as an athlete even as a child, Rampone had scholarship offers for basketball and field hockey and chose the basketball scholarship to Monmouth University in her home state of New Jersey. She was a walk-on for Monmouth’s soccer team and didn’t consider it to be her best sport by any stretch of the imagination.
During her senior basketball season in 1997, she received a call-up from the U.S. Women’s National Team to attend a camp. If she turned it down, another call-up would probably not come. After difficult consideration and the OK from her basketball coach, she took it.
“Soccer chose me,” she said. “My whole life I was the best player on any team — suddenly I was the worst on this team.”
She gave it everything she had and grew through watching her mistakes. She learned that she could push past her limits. And then, in 2001, she tore her ACL, an injury that could have ended her career.
“It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened,” she said. “I learned that everything you have can be taken away in an instant. But it also taught me how to push through my comfort zone and how to train.”
The rest is in the record books. After eight years as captain, Rampone stepped away from the game as one of the most decorated American athletes of all time.
“I removed myself from the roster and left the game ahead of the 2016 Olympics,” she said, explaining that she chose to leave the team on her own terms and not make the coach decide. “I did it my way.”
Here's a glance at Christie Pearce Rampone's visit to McDaniel College: