By the age of four, Megan Richey knew she wanted to be a soccer player.
“I was a very competitive kid, and I was just thriving in that environment,” she said. “I loved the physical side of it, I loved making decisions and scoring goals.”
After a whirlwind career including playing in Europe and alongside U.S. soccer legends, Richey has spent the last few years helping the next generation of Ferndale athletes as the owner of the Manthey Momentum training center in south Ferndale. Since 2016, she’s helped both students and adults reach peak physical shape and feel more confident in themselves.
“I just felt a responsibility to bring back my experiences back to the community,” Richey said. “When you leave our gym, we hope that you feel valued and understood and that you can grow.”
Richey said she had warm memories of attending Mountain View Elementary, Vista Middle School, and Ferndale High School during the ‘90s and ‘00s. In particular, she said her math teacher and FHS soccer coach Amber Young was a supportive mentor.
“She really cared about us,” Richey said of Young.
Richey played on the Golden Eagles’ varsity soccer team during her 9th and 10th grade years before transferring to the IMG Academy boarding school in Florida. IMG is well-known for cultivating professional athletes in a variety of sports, including star soccer players such as Landon Donovan. Because she earned some high school credits at Vista, Richey was able to graduate a year early and go straight to the University of Colorado.
After two years of playing for the Buffaloes and two years at the College of Charleston, Richey finally began playing soccer professionally in 2008. At the time, for women’s soccer, the European leagues were a much better option than the fledgling women’s league back home, Richey said. The NWSL did not yet exist.
“My end goal was ultimately to be on the US Women’s National Team, and the pathway for me was to continue to play professionally,” she said. “The league in the U.S. was really unstable during my years, so I knew overseas the leagues were a lot stronger, a lot older. I thought that was my best opportunity.”
During a five-year span, Richey suited up for three European teams: Fortuna Hjørring in Denmark, AS Saint-Étienne in France, and Stjarnan in Iceland. She played alongside and against some of the top women’s players in the world, and even competed in the vaunted UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Fortuna Hjørring, Richey’s first team out of college, still holds a special place for her. She lived in a small town about the size of Moses Lake, learned Danish, played under a “world-class” coach, and coached middle school-aged girls while playing. Richey and her family still periodically travel back to Hjørring to visit the friends she made there.
“It was such a big dream for me, since I was 10 years old, to play professionally,” she said. “So that was a very special time period.”
For a couple summers in-between European league seasons, Manthey returned to Washington to play for the semi-pro Seattle Sounders Women team. During one of those summers, the U.S. pro women’s league had just folded, so she played alongside icons like Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan.
“Even though I wasn’t on the U.S. Women’s National Team, I was playing with and against all these players on the team I aspired to be on,” Richey said. “There are some big-name players that it was a reward to play alongside.”
After marrying her husband, Brent Richey (a fellow Ferndale student, who graduated from FHS in 2006), Megan Richey returned to Whatcom County and worked as a personal trainer. She noticed while working with local kids that their running mechanics and special awareness on the field weren’t at a high level, and the idea for Manthey Momentum (named after her maiden name) was sparked.
Richey opened Manthey Momentum in Bellingham’s Irongate neighborhood in 2016. For the first year, she solely taught sports performance training to students – no soccer-specific drills or adult classes. In November 2017, she moved to her current, larger location in Ferndale. The gym has two separate indoor turf fields for soccer practice, plus a couple spaces with more traditional gym exercise equipment.
Richey said she had been interested in high-performance athletic training after witnessing the advanced coaching techniques at IMG Academy.
“I always approached my sessions as a student knowing that someday I could use all this incredible information I’m being taught,” she said. “I very much am a student of the game, and of recovery and nutrition and everything.”
In her six years of training in Ferndale, Richey and her six staffers have helped many local students and adults reach their fitness goals. She even built a partnership with her old youth grassroots club team, Ferndale Red Lions, where she works with their coaches and helps develop training plans.
“We’re so thankful for the community that trains with us and allows us into their lives,” Richey said.