ST. PAUL, Minn. — Balancing a relationship when one partner is a professional athlete isn't easy. There's the fatigue, the long hours of training, the constant travel. Those challenges are compounded when a marriage is of two professional athletes – one a world champion, the other trying to be.
Julie Ertz, a midfielder on the U.S. women's soccer team, and her husband, Zach, a tight end for the Eagles, are somehow making it work. Even if that means spending time together on a stage in front of dozens of members of the media.
But Julie's presence in Minnesota is more than a cheesy interview. She's taking a week away from her team to be here for Zach. And though she said she'll get in some training, there's little that matters more to her right now than what her husband and his team are working toward.
"It has nothing to do with me," Julie said from the floor of the Xcel Energy Center, sporting a vintage white-and-kelly-green Eagles sweatshirt. "I'm here to be a wife, a fan, and a supporter. The second I landed and just saw the Super Bowl things, I think it's just so cool to see in person."
Last week, millions of social media users watched a viral video of Julie finding out from teammates and coaches that her husband would make a trip to the Super Bowl. She'd just finished playing in the U.S. women's team's first game of the year, a 5-1 trouncing of Denmark that took place in San Diego as the NFC Championship wrapped up in Philadelphia.
Then there was a video of him watching her get emotional. He cried. Then she spoke about what it was like seeing him cry. She cried more. The whole ordeal featured plenty of waterworks. Julie says that's been a little strange.
"I do think it's weird that most people have seen me cry now," she said. "After the game, every emotion that I was kind of pushing aside before the game in order for me to focus kind of just came out at once. I was just so unbelievably proud."
But there was none of that Monday night.
Instead, Julie spent the evening coolly chatting up reporters from around the globe, doing a joint interview with her husband for the NFL Network, and interviewing Zach herself. Her question was simple: "What's your favorite meal I make?"
"She makes unbelievable tacos," Zach said, adding playfully: "She doesn't make them all the time, so I'm kind of upset about it, but when she does, they're off the chain."
Mexican food aside, Julie said she had aimed to get to Minnesota as soon as she could to be there for Zach during Super Bowl week, arriving Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours after the Eagles touched down. She was bombarded by media and fans with the same question: "When will Zach bring home some championship hardware to match yours?"
She is, of course, hoping it'll happen this weekend. However, if the Birds are victorious and Zach gets his Super Bowl ring, she's not sure he'll put it next to her 2015 World Cup medal. That's mostly because she's not even sure where the thing is.