To watch Jeremy Schaap’s profile of the Ertzes, tune into E:60 at 9 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN.
She is the reigning U.S. soccer player of the year and a World Cup champion. He just helped the Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl with two huge catches in the fourth quarter. They are both next-level stars on the sports landscape — and they are in love. Technically, the honeymoon is over — because Zach and Julie Ertz have been married since March 2017 — but if you added up all the days they’ve spent together, they might still qualify as newlyweds.
How did the two of you meet?
Julie: We initially met at a baseball game at Stanford. We had mutual friends. After I won the U20 Women’s World Cup [in 2012], he sent a congrats [text] on our win. Then I watched a football game that he was in, and he scored this huge touchdown. I texted him, “Congratulations, so cool to see you doing well.” I guess a little bit of succeeding kindled our relationship.
Zach: That touchdown might have sealed the deal. I mean, I hope I offered more than that touchdown against Oregon. [laughs]
Are you competitive with each other?
Julie: It’s pretty bad. We play a bunch of card games and board games, but if we do board games, we have to be on the same team. Otherwise, we won’t talk to each other for like an hour. We’re just too stubborn.
Zach: We have a book that keeps a tally of wins. There are two sides of the book; one’s labeled “Z” and one’s “J,” and it’s just a running tally of victories, because Julie is a known cheater. [laughs] She exaggerates how many victories she has. So we had to create this book in order to hold each other accountable. I still have to look over her shoulder to make sure she’s not giving herself two victories instead of one, or that she’s actually giving me a mark in the victory column.
Julie: Unfortunately, Zach is winning right now. I won’t lie, he’s up. He used to be up by a pretty big margin, but I’ve been killing it in gin.
Zach: The one place we’re never truly competing is while working out. It’s more encouragement or just holding each other accountable — little coaching points here and there — because we know how serious the other is while the other is working out.
Julie: In the offseason, we work out like every day together. Lifting is an easy one to do together; we just shift weights back and forth. We do a lot of core together. Pilates and yoga, we always do those together.
Zach: She’s helped me with my flexibility. It doesn’t come naturally to me. I’ve created this stretching routine that I have to do each and every night. It focuses on every muscle and joint group in the body. I can’t sleep unless I get it done before I go to bed.
Julie: Zach takes care of his body so well, it’s unbelievable. He’s so meticulous, like OCD, in what he does.
How do you support each other as athletes?
Julie: In a time of doubt, it’s nice to have someone who’s on your side, pushing you. A big moment when Zach was there for me was before the World Cup. I didn’t make the [qualifying games] roster, and that was a hard moment. Him being a professional athlete as well, he understands those up-and-down moments. There are daily moments of me being so tired and him saying, “OK, well, go do two more runs.” From the little things to those big things, it all helps in the end.
Zach: I’ve dealt with an injury the past two years at the beginning of the season, and her ability to help me maintain focus and not get too upset or too down … She’ll drop whatever she has to come out to Philadelphia, even though she’s playing in Chicago. It’s definitely a burden to take that time off from her sport, but she knows that sometimes you have to do that in order to help the other person out.
Julie: I feel very comfortable in who I am now, and he’s definitely a part of it. He’s behind me, he wants me to succeed and pushes me. That’s been really special the past five years now.
Zach: I love watching Julie play. I know how much work she puts into her sport and her craft — to see that hard work pay off is very satisfying to me too.
Julie: I think it’s a lot easier for me to watch Zach play than it is for his other family members, just because I know how much he loves the sport and how hard he works at it. The closer I sit, when I hear more of the pads banging against each other, my heart races a little bit. But I just want him to succeed and do what he loves.