As Americans revel in our improbable and wildly dramatic Women’s World Cup victory over Brazil this week, lots of us remembered back to the last time women’s soccer captured the national imagination. Mia Hamm led that American squad in capturing the World Cup, capped by a dramatic shootout win over China before 90,000 crazy fans in the Rose Bowl.
Mia Hamm was always an individual soccer phenomenon. She led her high school team to the state championship. At UNC, she took the Tar Heels to four NCAA championships. She was the youngest American woman ever to win a World Cup at the age of 19 on the 1991 squad. She led the 1996 and 2004 women’s teams to gold medals in the Olympics. And her Washington Freedom team won a professional championship in 2003.
Now Hamm is the mother of twins (she married baseball star Nomar Garciaparra) and manages the Mia Hamm Foundation for patients with aplastic anemia, and their families. Her adoptive brother, Garrett, died of the disease. Did she lead women’s soccer to the promised land some predicted following that 1999 World Cup? No. But her athletic career and personal achievements have made all Americans proud.
- Goal: With Mia Hamm (goal.blogs.nytimes.com)