The 1999 U.S. women’s national team: Instant icons, lasting legends

Jul 4, 2020

  • Laura M. Purtell and Lynn Olszowy
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Editor’s notice: This story on the 1999 U.S. girls’s nationwide workforce was initially printed on June 18, 2019. Watch “The ’99ers” on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

TWENTY YEARS AGO, Brandi Chastain’s penalty kick rippled the again of the web and altered the world. Chastain’s memorable jersey celebration to mark the U.S.’s victory over China in entrance of a file crowd for a worldwide girls’s sporting occasion has grow to be as iconic because the ’99 World Cup finale itself. Using momentum from the event, members of the USWNT logged a variety of firsts: They established the primary skilled girls’s soccer league, negotiated the primary collective bargaining settlement, made soccer a viable profession for ladies.

See more: 1999 usa womens soccer team

We spoke to 18 gamers from that historic squad. For them, the lasting recollections aren’t of fame, world stardom or fortune. As an alternative, 20 years later, they recall a tight-knit group of girls who each embraced each other’s individuality and put workforce earlier than self. In addition they deeply perceive the impression they’d on girls athletes in generations to comply with.

Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Michelle Akers

Place Midfielder What she’s doing now Proprietor and founder, horse rescue nonprofit

“We must practice in our personal backyards by ourselves. After which we might come collectively and play. Successful the World Cup, going via all these issues – that is what we constructed. It is type of like a reminder of who I’m. There’s that phrase, you recognize – there is a spirit, a connection. It is like a soul, a sisterhood. It is the family-ish factor.”

Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Brandi Chastain

Place Defender What she’s doing now Government director, head coach, California Thorns

“It was a journey, you recognize, a course of for all of us to get to that time. And we wanted each single participant and each single employees member and each fan that got here to the stadium. And we wanted the opponents to play their greatest in order that we may showcase girls’s soccer in a approach that it deserved. However then at that remaining within the Rose Bowl – that girls’s soccer received to play on that hallowed floor – I imply, it is modified the whole lot. We all know that.

Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Lorrie Honest Allen

Place Defender What she’s doing now Program director, Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Challenge

“The connection that the ’99 workforce all the time had with the neighborhood: No autograph would go unsigned; we tried to remain within the stadium so long as attainable to hit each single fan to be sure that they felt related to us.”

Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Pleasure Fawcett

Place Defender What she’s doing now Works with Pure Sport, youth soccer nonprofit

“For ladies having the ability to push themselves, and to have the ability to consider in themselves to do what they need to do – I believe that was a big effect, empowering girls to do what they need to do.

Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Danielle Fotopoulos

Place Ahead What she’s doing now Head coach, Eckerd School girls’s soccer

“No person is aware of what number of minutes I performed within the World Cup except I inform them. And I do know that I did have a objective, and now that I am a coach, I inform my workforce on a regular basis: Each single particular person, whether or not you are on the sphere, whether or not you are off the sphere, whether or not you are their tools supervisor or coach, no matter you’re doing, you have got a objective. And my objective was to make all people higher. I’d inform any person who’s enjoying, “Hey, do not slack. Why are you slackin’? Let’s decide it up.” That is us. That is my time.”

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Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Tracy Noonan

Place Goalkeeper What she’s doing now Founder and proprietor, Dynasty Goalkeeping

“The tradition of the reserves was really actually, actually cool. Considered one of our issues was to just be sure you had water bottles when any person came visiting on a stoppage of play. We had been just like the water bottle brigade. Throughout overtimes, we might seize a teammate’s leg, shake their legs out. These days, I believe they’ve an entourage of helpers who do this, however that was us.

Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Shannon MacMillan

Place Ahead What she’s doing now Government director and coach, Del Mar Carmel Valley Sharks

“After one of many video games, the bus was driving and any person was operating, following us for blocks and blocks. We lastly stopped the bus as a result of we felt so unhealthy. Brandi will get off and simply throws her a shoe. We did not simply present up and play. It was one thing that we owned and put our coronary heart and soul into off the sphere in addition to on the sphere.”

Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Kate (Sobrero) Markgraf

Place Defender What she’s doing now ESPN and NBC Olympic broadcaster

“That group had such a real spirit that is powerful to ever replicate. I really feel so fortunate that our workforce was full of people and comprised of folks that did it out of pure love for the game. We did not do it for the cash. We did not do it for the notoriety. Oh, thoughts you, cellphones had simply come out. There was no social media. Nobody was liking, hearting, doing something. The one validation we received was from ourselves and from one another.

We had been a visual byproduct of funding. If you’ll be able to assist girls, not solely with sources however with emotional assist, in giving them kudos for what they’re doing, it is wonderful how far they will go. Now think about for those who assist them on the similar degree, in each sort of useful resource, that you simply do the lads – look what can occur.”

Extra from the 1999 Ladies’s World Cup:

  • Reflections from a Chinese language-American dwelling in the course of the 1999 remaining

  • Becky Sauerbrunn thanks her childhood hero, Carla Overbeck

Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Cindy Parlow Cone

Place Midfielder What she’s doing now Vp, U.S. Soccer

“As a child, I wasn’t conscious sufficient or observant sufficient to actually be capable of look exterior of myself and wish everybody else to do very well till I received to the nationwide workforce and I used to be round these gamers, like Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly and Carla Overbeck. I may simply see in the way in which that they led and the way in which that they talked to everybody that they genuinely wished everybody to succeed. There wasn’t any placing somebody down in order that they may stand up. It was all, we rise collectively.

“I keep in mind standing within the tunnel because the beginning lineup was going out earlier than the ultimate match. Kristine Lilly was proper behind me, and he or she simply checked out me and knew that I used to be nervous. She put her hand on my shoulder and was like, ‘Cindy, that is going to be a lot enjoyable.’ That is all she mentioned to me. I used to be like, ‘You are proper! That is superior.’”

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Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Kristine Lilly

Place Ahead What she’s doing now Founder and coach, TeamFirst Soccer Academy

“After I take a look at my children this present workforce, I look again and I am like, ‘Oh my gosh, I hope I did that to somebody’s children.’ And I believe we did. ‘Trigger I see my women, they’re like, ‘Yeah, Mother, you performed. Nice.’ And it simply type of jogs my memory what we did, and I hope these gamers proceed to try this.”

Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Julie Foudy

Place Midfielder What she’s doing now ESPN soccer commentator, espnW author and host

“When folks say, ‘What was it about this group?’ the factor I all the time say is, ‘There was fixed laughter.’ We by no means took ourselves too critically. I imply sports activities – and I get it – it is aggressive and it is intense. However once I see youth sports activities right now, there’s an depth that drives me nuts. As a result of it is like – simply watch video of our workforce. There was a pleasure to what we had been doing.

“That final evening, we had been all collectively. We all the time had that further room, the suite, that was crammed with meals and sweet and video games and films and no matter you wished to do, and it was our communal place to assemble. We had been all sitting in there and laughing so exhausting. And we turned to one another and had this bizarre second. We stopped and went, ‘[Sigh] What are we gonna do when that is performed?’ I imply, we had been getting paid to do that for a dwelling, to hang around with our greatest associates and snigger.”

Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Mia Hamm

Place Ahead What she’s doing now Half-owner, LAFC; world ambassador, FC Barcelona; founder and coach, TeamFirst Soccer Academy

“What I believe has been actually great, and what I believe is exclusive – and one of many lasting impressions once I share our story with folks – is that we had sure requirements that had been unwavering. Like, you needed to be powerful. You needed to be match. You needed to be dedicated to working exhausting. However we celebrated everybody being who they had been. And you did not have to slot in a sure mildew as a participant – that you simply had been sufficient so long as you got into type of our core rules as a workforce.”

Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak

Place Midfielder What she’s doing now Head coach, College of Central Florida girls’s soccer

“Although I wasn’t a starter, I felt simply as valued as Mia Hamm, and I felt that approach due to my coaches and due to my teammates. You discovered your little area of interest, what it’s you delivered to the workforce, they usually made certain that you simply knew that, and that gave you confidence every single day.

“Earlier than the ultimate, you suppose gamers can be of their head, perhaps alone with their headphones on, and simply targeted. No, we had our playlist. I began the social gathering. I began the strikes and received everybody going. I beloved that function. I keep in mind Ricky Martin’s ‘Livin’ la Vida Loca’ was on that playlist. That is the one which stands out essentially the most.”

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Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Christie Pearce Rampone

Place Defender What she’s doing now Fox Sports activities broadcaster for 2019 Ladies’s World Cup

“I believe essentially the most excellent reminiscence was simply seeing and feeling the fan base develop all through the event. It is extremely exhausting to place into phrases the emotion we may really feel round us on the way in which to and from video games – it was so unimaginable to have the assist of the nation drive us ahead. Seeing the look on the faces of the youngsters who’d come out to cheer us is one thing I’ll always remember. It made me notice that this was one thing we labored so exhausting for individually and collectively, and that it was such a privileged place to be in.”

Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Briana Scurry

Place Goalkeeper What she’s doing now Public speaker

“More often than not when folks inform you the place they had been when one thing monumental occurs, it is normally one thing unhealthy. And so to have the ability to be part of any person’s good factor … I by no means thought of being part of one thing that may have an effect on somebody that approach. And so for me, it is this wonderful present to have folks inform me their tales. It places them proper again there. And I am simply so grateful to have skilled that with them. … After I’m 80, folks will in all probability say, ‘Hey, had been you on that workforce? That was so wonderful in ’99.’”

Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Tisha Venturini Hoch

Place Midfielder What she’s doing now Founder and coach, TeamFirst Soccer Academy

“We used to play golf. It will be Mia and myself and Brandi and Foudy, Lil and Carla [Overbeck], and we might have a pink ball. So whoever had the worst gap, for those who had a cruddy shot otherwise you received the worst rating, you needed to play with the ‘pink woman’ – we referred to as her the pink woman. And so we might simply exit and play, and we had been aggressive nonetheless, however we had fun.

Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Saskia Webber

Place Goalkeeper What she’s doing now Goalkeeper coach, LA Bulls

“So I dyed my hair crimson, white and blue [for the World Cup]. We went into the lodge in DC to do my hair earlier than the Germany recreation, and the home windows did not open. At one level Christie Pearce Rampone is spraying my hair, and I nearly cross out, and I lookup and he or she’s blue, and he or she nearly passes out. And we’ve a recreation that day, and we’re operating to the window and unlocking the window as a result of we asphyxiated ourselves. It took 5 showers to get it out each recreation. I am critical. 5 showers. 5 shampoos.”

Dylan Coulter for ESPNW

Sara Whalen Hess

Place Defender What she’s doing now Licensed psychologist and cognitive behavioral therapist

We’ve some piece of historical past that can by no means change and that all of us really feel actually unimaginable about having in our again pocket. Whether or not we’re enjoying soccer or teaching or aren’t doing something associated to soccer, it is nonetheless a part of our identification, which is de facto, actually particular.

“Due to how a lot media performs a job in the whole lot now, it is really very troublesome to be very humble since you type of must be a picture, and you must market your self. I believe it was a extra pleasant time to play then, perhaps as a result of we did not have that concern. We had been simply desirous to win. We did not must look a sure approach or be a sure factor, which was very a lot a blessing.”

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