“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;”
Thus spoke the famous words of a love-struck Juliet as she pined for her Romeo in Shakespeare’s famous play. In the Rose City, the phrase, “By Any Other Name” was adopted by supporters of Portland Thorns FC to represent the spirit of the team and the club. As Juliet points out, it’s not the name that should matter, it’s what’s inside that counts.” And so too with the Thorns.
This year, to expand on this idea, we've had Germany Women’s National Team legend and Thorns FC goalkeeping coach Nadine Angerer do a series of interviews with players to hear more about who they are in their words, what inspires them, and where their personal stories lead.
- READ: By Any Other Name: Emily Sonnett
- READ: By Any Other Name: Emily Menges
- READ: By Any Other Name: Nadia Nadim
- READ: By Any Other Name: Meghan Klingenberg
In this interview, Angerer sits down with Icelandic international Dagny Brynjarsdottir to learn about what life was like growing up in her native Iceland, "dangerous" animals, fishing, and her deepest secret.
ANGERER: Who’s Dagny Brynjarsdottir?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Oh. Who I am?
ANGERER: Yeah. Who are you? I don’t know you. How would you describe yourself?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: I would describe myself that… That’s a hard question.
ANGERER: I know.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: I would say I’m open, I’m a nice person but I still can be really controlling. Like, I want my thing. Growing up I was always like the leader of the friends group and I wanted to control what we did.
ANGERER: Were you a boss or leader?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: More like a leader. I was like the friend. I was not the annoying one.
ANGERER: Yeah. Bosses are more like, “Here I am and…”
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Yeah. No, it’s more like a leader. And I grew up… There were only four girls in my class and 18 boys. And it’s funny when I think back, because when I was little, I had only one or two girlfriends, versus boys, but still I was kind of like one of the leaders in the group even though I was the only girl with the boys. But yeah… And do you want to know more?
ANGERER: Yeah, of course.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: I’m just from my small town, seven, eight hundred people. Youngest of my siblings. And in Iceland.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: How many siblings do you have?
ANGERER: One older brother, one older sister. And in my town it was just a small town so we were just playing outside from the morning until the nighttime, and I really do not like following the rules. And sometimes I went to the school president and because I just wanted to do my own thing. When people were like, “You can’t do that,” I was like, ‘Then I’m doing it.” So I always wanted just to do my own thing. But I still would always follow the biggest rules, but I still wanted to do what you’re not supposed to do.
ANGERER: So you’re a wise rebel. You want to have your space.
What is an Icelandic girl in the age between five and eight years doing in Iceland?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: There was a play yard next to my house and a lot of kids, so I was always playing soccer, playing with the kids. We have an airport in Iceland that’s like 20 minutes from my house, so sometimes I went there. One time I got lost. Or I didn’t get lost, but my parents didn’t know where I was. They were looking for me, because it was midnight and I was probably six years, seven years old, and I was just having fun with my friend. And then I did a lot of traveling around Iceland with my parents. A lot of camping. Even though we did traveling camp, I just camped in my back yard with my friend, guy friends. It was always me and maybe two, three of my guy friends who came over and we maybe slept in a tent for a month or something.
ANGERER: Between five and eight years old?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Yeah. We were just always sleeping there in the back yard. And I did a lot of fishing with my parents, mostly my dad. He fishes and hunts and stuff. In my town, we only have two restaurants, so when I grew up, I never went out to eat. That’s why I really like homemade food.
ANGERER: Are you a good cook?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: I think I’m good when I try hard, but I like healthy, easy things. To get done as quickly as possible. I’m not a big fan of cooking, but I do it because it’s healthy and I know it’s good for me. If that makes sense.
ANGERER: Yeah. It makes sense. And what are you doing—because you described this little village in Iceland—what are you doing in this critical age when you are between 12 and 15 or 16.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Oh, so a little older?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: When I moved to Reykjavík to play soccer they asked me, “What do you do?” I do think that we did different things. And I think because of that, [my friends and I] became really good friends [at that age]. Really close to each other. Because we always had to be around each other, we couldn’t just go and watch a movie, you know. And obviously the technology wasn’t as big, because I got my first cell phone when I was 13. So it’s a lot different than today. We were still playing soccer. We didn’t play as many games outside, but we were still playing soccer outside until I went to high school.
I guess what we did a lot was play basketball, track and field, soccer—we did a lot of sports. I guess instead of going to a movie theatre, we would just hang out together outside. And I remember one time with my best friend, I was home alone and my friends came over and stayed with me during the weekend, and it’s funny because no one knew, and we stole the car at my house.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: That’s like something we would do. We were 15 and in Europe we drive with a stick and we didn’t know how to drive with that. And we were like, “Okay. Let’s do this.” I was driving and she was on the stick, and we were stripping through the gears. We were nervous. We had sunglasses on so we would think no one would see us. Yeah, we would do stuff like that. My mom was angry at me when she found out afterwards, but she didn’t know until…
ANGERER: How did she find out? Did you crash the car?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: No. We got stuck in another street because we didn’t know how to go backwards. We saw an older man, and we were like, “Could you turn the car for us so we can drive home?” And yeah, we made it back home. But I think I told my mom… Because we were taking pictures and then we really wanted to show people the pictures, so I think I told my mom a month later. When I was growing up, she was strict on the rules but because I always wanted to do my thing, she wasn’t too harsh. I was always nice and a good kid, even though I wanted to do my own thing, so she was just like, “You’re not supposed to do that.” She was angry at me for a little bit but then it was like, whatever.
ANGERER: What is the most dangerous animal in Iceland?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: The most dangerous one? That’s a tough question because we don’t really have any one. I would say a bee, or like a wasp. That’s the most dangerous one.
ANGERER: So you don’t have ice bears or something?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: No. No ice bears.
ANGERER: Do you have whales?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Yeah. In the ocean.
ANGERER: They’re not really dangerous.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: No. They’re further outside. And in Iceland because we have black beaches and the ocean is really powerful, so you can’t really go in there because the sea would just take you away. So people are never around the whales. The most disgusting ones are probably the wasps and the spiders. I mean, the spiders are like that small. They don’t do anything. They’re tiny and they’re probably the most annoying one. We don’t have anything that could hurt us, except for the bee.
ANGERER: Not like in Australia.
ANGERER: Do you like fishing?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Yes. My dad, he’s been fishing since he was little, so for me and my siblings growing up we always went fishing with him.
ANGERER: And did he teach you how to fish?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Yes. I remember my first fishing pole, I had a tiny one, a pink one. And that was probably when I was two or three years old. Really little. And we were fishing a lot every summer, but obviously when soccer got more serious I wasn’t able to go as much. And now lately, I’ve been trying to go once every summer but it’s been hard to. Now I think it’s really cute, now my dad is taking my nephews. It’s cool. And I think I’ll keep doing it in the future because Omar, he likes to do it but he…
ANGERER: Who’s Omar?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: My fiancé. He likes doing it but because he’s from a farm where he didn’t do it. He didn’t travel to do it. So now when he’s more with my family, now he travels with us. So I think in the future we will go with my dad and do more fishing, and that’s cool.
ANGERER: Do you think that Iceland ever will make it to a Women’s World Cup?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Yes. I think we’ll make it to the next World Cup. I really hope so, because that’s when I’m going to be at a good age. I guess I could maybe make it to two more World Cups, but hopefully we may get…
ANGERER: I mean, you have a good team.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Yeah. We have a good team this year and we have a good chance. We should make it to the European Championship.
ANGERER: What does friendship mean for you?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: I think it is being honest, loyal, and keeping your friends accountable. Just trustworthy and being able to be yourself around that person.
ANGERER: And did you ever see the northern lights?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Yeah. Actually I’ve seen it many times.
ANGERER: Would you recommend it?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Yeah. It’s really beautiful. And especially you cannot see it for two months in Iceland because then we have summer outside, 24/7. But during the spring, fall, especially winter you can see it a lot. And I think it’s really beautiful, especially when it’s moving around. It can be really beautiful.
ANGERER: Oh, I want to see it. I have a few more questions. What ability would you like to have that you think you don’t have at all? Like playing an instrument, or speaking languages.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: I think… I have to think for this one. I would want to do… This one is hard. What did the other players say?
ANGERER: I won’t tell you. [laughter]
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Did they have to think about it or no?
ANGERER: They didn’t. Okay. Think about it, and we’ll come back to it. Another question: What is your deepest, funniest, secret? Like, before games I, I don’t know, drink 10 coffees or something like that.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Yeah. Those questions are hard.
ANGERER: I never said it was going to be easy.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: You were waiting to ask the hardest questions at the end.
ANGERER: Think about this too. Another question before we come back to those other two questions: What do you want teammates saying about you and how you are as a teammate?
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: I want them to think… It’s so hard to talk about yourself like that. I would want them to say that I’m a leader, friendly, trustworthy, and fun to be around.
ANGERER: Okay. Back to the other one.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Wait. What was the question?
ANGERER: Most wanted ability.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: I would want to be able to do all the jumps and stuff and be as flexible as the gymnastic people. Because people complain that when I score, my celebrations are bad.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: So I would want to do flips and stuff where I would celebrate my goals. Actually I really wanted that since I was little. I really wanted to be able to do flips and…
ANGERER: Acrobatic stuff.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Yeah, when I celebrate my goals. Because people keep saying my celebrations are bad, so what am I supposed to do? It’s not like I can do any of those jumps. So I wish I could do that. Wait, what was the other question?
ANGERER: Your deepest secret.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Wait. What did the other players say? Give me ideas.
ANGERER: No. You’ll just repeat them.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Deepest secret…Hm. This is hard. I don’t have any deep secrets. Is that possible?
ANGERER: Are you boring?
ANGERER: No. Definitely not.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: My deepest secret. Give me more ideas.
ANGERER: Mine would be I never go to bed before two o’clock in the night. I’m totally a night person.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Oh my god. I wouldn’t expect that.
ANGERER: See? That’s what I mean. That’s why I always had a single room on the road.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: As an outstanding athlete, I would think you would go to bed before midnight.
ANGERER: No. All my teammates are like, “Here, have your own room.” It’s 11 o’clock then I could…
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: So you wake up at 11 only. Do you wake up in the morning?
ANGERER: No. In the evening at 11 o’clock I’m like, “Okay. I’m not tired at all. Very active.” And my first year of school, that was my time to learn. From 11 o’clock until 3 o’clock in the morning.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: I wish I can do that.
ANGERER: I know. It’s different. It would be my deepest secret.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: Okay. [pause] Could I say I dye my eyebrows? It’s blond so I color them black.
ANGERER: Perfect. That’s it.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: That’s so normal for people in Iceland.
ANGERER: Yes, but maybe not for Americans or for Germans.
BRYNJARSDOTTIR: That’s true.