Canadian Olympian Stephanie Labbé on playing soccer in Rio, Taylor Swift and her beauty must-haves

By Anna Redman

Stephanie Labbé knows how to kick it up a notch! After many years of training, the Canadian soccer star and premium goalkeeper is competing in her first Olympics, where she and her teammates are putting their best feet forward as they represent the Great White North on the soccer field in Rio.

But that's not the only place Stephanie is making a difference! The Montreal native recently teamed up with lifestyle brand Always to represent their #LikeAGirlCampaign, which both supports and encourages female athletes. "I was extremely excited to be a part of it, it’s such a powerful message," says Stephanie of why she signed on right away. "It was a no-brainer for me."

Before she packed her bags and headed to Brazil the hardworking athlete took some time to sit down with Hello! to chat about the surprising celebrity who inspires her, how she told her family she'd qualified for the Olympic Games and what she plans to do with her coaster collection.

TAP TO SEE GALLERYStephanie Labbé is a Canadian soccer star

Who do you personally find inspiring? My mom has battled so many things in her life. A couple of years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer, so just seeing her fight through that and battle it and overcome it and now she’s cancer-free. To have her as a role model when I was younger and now to see her go through that, it’s pretty inspiring.

What about female athletes? Growing up I didn’t have too many female role models. Female athletes weren’t as accessible as they are nowadays. I looked up to Hayley Wickenheiser [the Canadian ice hockey player]. Just seeing a female so dominant in her sport and really pave the way, not only for her own generation, but for future generations I think is so powerful.

Do you have any celebrity idols? Taylor Swift. It’s kind of funny, I’m like obsessed with her actually. The way that she interacts with fans and really gives back and seems pretty genuine about that. I think it’s really incredible. It’s the same as an athlete. We like to run soccer camps and find a way to connect with our fans and the people we’re really hoping to pave the way for. So I look up to her I guess, in that sense.

Have you met her? No. Maybe one day [ laughs].

The athlete is in Rio competing on Team Canada

How did you feel when you found out you were going to Rio? How did you react? A lot of emotions! Kind of like a sigh of relief knowing all the hard work, all the sacrifices, all the rejections, failures, kind of all the tough times that you’ve been through have paid off. And your perseverance through those and the confidence to believe in yourself no matter how many times you’ve been knocked down. But of course joy and excitement. Knowing that this has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. Just so many emotions. Pride. Being proud to represent my country and family, it’s always an honour.

Who was the first person you called with your Rio news? Well I actually got a message from my dad saying he saw it on Twitter [laughs]. I didn’t say anything [until] it was released through the media. I hadn’t told my family yet, so I guess the phone call was like a return call to may dad saying “thank you!”

Do you and the team have any traditions when you travel? There’s a group of us that always watches Scandal and now that The Bachelorette is on there’s a group that always watches that.

Stephanie Labbé is part of Always's #LikeAGirl campaign

You collect magnets and coasters when your travel, why did those appeal to you? Yeah! I just started that a couple of years ago and my vision for it is to make a coffee table out of them all one day so that when we’re sitting around having coffee when I’m older I can look down and have all these different memories. My fridge is quite full now and I have a good stack of coasters.

Your mantra is “everything happens for a reason” – where did that come from? It’s kind of always been my positive outlook on failures and setbacks – there’s a reason why it’s happening and I’m meant to go through this heard time because I’m going to come out stronger at some point and I’ve always kind of kept faith in that.

Do you get anxious trying to stop the ball from going in the net? No, that’s like my total calming zone because that’s when I know that I’ve put in all the work and I’ve put in all the training and I’ve done the preparation so then it’s just really my time to shine. My time to just go out and be free. When I step on the field for games that’s when I’m the most confident and the most relaxed because that’s my happy place. That’s what I train for, that’s what I live for.

Are there any beauty products you can’t live without? I use Olay a lot for my face creams, my SPF. That’s probably the one major one. With all the sun exposure that we have that’s a big one to take care of the skin.

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