Woman's Football: A Whole Other Ball-GameProfessional women’s soccer players, Nikki Baker and Laura del Rio kick it on and off the field.

How they met

Nikki: We were teammates on a professional soccer team called FC Indiana. [FC is short for Football Club.] We played offense together. However, Laura is from Spain. We hardly spoke, due to the language barrier, but one day we started a conversation using Google Translate. So the next day I began learning Spanish and Laura began learning English. And we’ve been a couple ever since.

Getting hitched

Nikki: We wear commitment rings that we exchanged privately a year ago, but it would be nice to have a ceremony with our families. The problem is that our families live on different continents. Also, we are not able to marry legally in the state of Oklahoma, which is where we now live.

Laura: We talk about getting married in the future, but we don’t need a piece of paper to be a family. We are a family. We feel married. We are even raising a little girl together.

Why they fit so well together

Nikki: Laura is the logical, even-tempered one. She is full of patience and wisdom. She keeps me responsible! Like yin and yang, we balance each other out.

Laura: I think we fit so well together because we are so opposite. Nikki is all heart! She is passionate and sometimes impulsive. She is the funniest person I know, but also very serious about wanting to make this world a better place.

On the field

Nikki: That same summer we met, we were also competing for the most goals in the entire league. It came down to the last game, where [deep sigh] Laura ended up coming in first and I came in second.

Laura: I know Nikki wants me to say this—I did play one more game than her. We gave each other good healthy competition. I miss playing with her.

Nikki: Me too. Our styles of play are completely different, but they complement each other well.

Off the field

Nikki: We used to be teammates, but now we coach a soccer team together. So we know each other’s strengths and respect what we each have to offer.

Laura: I am not one to give advice, but if I have to say something [about why we’re so compatible off the field] it is our communication and compassion. That works for us. And we make sure to laugh every day.

Nikki: Yes, definitely communication, and being able to recognize and respectfully talk about frustrations. But also remembering that it’s equally important to encourage and praise each other. I completely admire Laura as an individual and as my partner. I love being near her, so it makes living and working together easy.