For last week’s Girl Crush, I wrote about one of the leading ladies in entertainment, Tina Fey. This week though, to go try to go along with the quasi-World Cup theme going on here, I decided to write about one of my first role models growing up: #9, Mia Hamm. If you don’t know who Mia Hamm is, I’m not sure I can help you too much. Let’s just say she pretty much dominated women’s sports in the 1990s.
Mia Hamm was born in 1972, and was the youngest soccer player to play for the U.S. national team at 15. She attended the University of North Carolina, where she led the Tar Heels to four NCAA National Championships. In 1991 Hamm took a year off school to help the national team win the first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup. She was 19.
Sometime after that, Mia Hamm became Mia Hamm.One of my clearest sports memories ever was watching the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final. 90,000 people filled the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, making the match between the U.S. and China the most-attended women’s sporting event ever. I remember watching it on ABC, laying on my parents’ bed with my little brother and our new golden retriever puppy. Hamm of course played a spectacular game, and the U.S. won on penalty kicks. The game is known for the one of the most iconic moments in sports: Brandi Chastain celebrated her game-winning PK by peeling off her jersey and falling to her knees in her sports bra.
When Mia Hamm retired from soccer after winning gold in the 2004 Olympics, she had already cemented her legacy as the greatest women soccer player in history. She scored 158 (!!) international goals in her career, a world record among both male and female players. She was also named the FIFA World Player of the Year (Female) twice, in 2001 and 2002. She won two World Cups and three Olympic medals. Nike named the biggest building on their corporate compound after her, which is just pretty cool. She even went head to head with the great Michael Jordan in a memorable Gatorade ad:
It’s kind of impossible to put into words what Mia Hamm has meant to sports. In the 1990s, she helped showed the American masses the excitement and beauty of soccer. She’s been a trailblazer for all of women’s sports. When Women’s Professional Soccer, the professional women’s league in the United States, launched last year, Mia Hamm’s silhouette was chosen for the logo.Now, Mia Hamm is quite literally what so many people already knew her as: an icon.
Were you a fan of Mia Hamm growing up? Which female athletes do you admire?