With all that can be said recently with surgery to finding the sideline that lead to a dream job with the NWSL and Boston Breakers organization. I can start with that I have been doing some serious soul searching. Looking for anything to cling on to get me through watching so much and not getting the validation of play.
Today I woke up to Facebook posts that 15 years ago today was a “remember when” that the United States women won the 1999 World Cup and changed the game forever. It had me in over drive with all that has been going through my mind.
I quickly put on some workout gear, grabbed my laptop, iPad, iPhone and was on my way. Each day since I took my so called dream job it has seem to have top priority to the business side and my own personal shape has fallen to quite a low.
It was a perfect summer day, sunny not humid and I found myself in technology tragedy. A virus in my laptop, no space in my smart products so hours and hours spent glued to a screen until I reached success.
I haven’t played since June and like I have mentioned before, if I don’t play at least once a week I am simply not me. I have been beating myself up on my size since it was so obvious. I wasn’t playing futsal with the boys either and not even sure I was welcome.
I finished my technology tragedy minutes before they were to start. I found myself walking that way luckily in tennis shoes and shorts but no soccer specific gear. I was nervous, haven’t played and didn’t even feel good. I actually stopped a block away and almost turned around but began to talk one foot in front of the other.
The over played statement of, ” you never know unless you try” was given a little more truth. The boys were welcoming and the futsal game was on. I don’t recall any fear or worrying just focus on the back of the net.
I found a little of that badly needed validation today. Even though I had some great goals, fast feet against some young college men, there was a moment I actually felt the extra weight of my legs from no excuses to explain.
I was at the Breakers practice yesterday to monitor an interview and while I was, just stared at Heather O’Reilly and her tone physique. I have been overly obsessed with the thought of her tone muscles since. There are just things down deep I can’t explain.
The game was pretty even, only a few goals apart. There was a point where my team mates started to tire and the score line began to grow. I got pretty angry after one goal and just took the ball down the court myself, blew by one guy, pulled a sweet Ronaldo move on another and just saw my sweet spot and buried it in the back of the net.
Everyone just stood still in awe. I just smiled and said, “what you pissed me off”. The reason I really latch onto playing futsal with the boys is for some reason, I play so creative. I get totally in a zone and just play at heights of greatness. I can’t seem to bring that out in myself playing with the ladies. I know one thing, I better figure it out.
After I headed home and took to minute to soak it up and relax. I flipped so far through my channels and wasn’t even sure why but there it was, a listing for World Cup. I wanted to see which reply in was and the info listed was a joyous shock. The legendary 1999 Women’s World Cup at the Rose Bowl for the United States vs China.
As I sit here on my living room floor like a little girl glued to the TV, I try to remember when and where I was. I know how much this team and game impacted me for years to follow but can’t quite seem to place the moment.
That only means one thing, times were not good. So many heartbreaking, opportunity smashing, homeless moments plague my childhood yet I can’t remember. Somehow through it all one of my strengths has been to forget the bad and go forward with the good.
It was classic to see; the quality of the recording, the drowning jerseys, the fact they were wearing scrunchies! The more I watched the passion and style of play the more I became upset knowing what the current game is missing.
This team was pure, full of passion. They went door to door finding the 90,000 plus fans that were in attendance. Of course there was attitude and arrogance, their athletes but it was all channeled in the desire to win. There motto for every minute was, “We care more about the WE than the ME”.
Names like Milbrett, Overbeck, Chastian, Foudy, Liily, Mia. Michelle Akers being diagnosed with chronic fatigue, hydration ivs before and after every game she gave more than any athlete does today. Minutes left in the game she goes down with a 0-0 score she won’t accept. She’s is delirious, can barely see yet digs deep and pull herself up.
At that time there was golden goal and the infamous overtime Kristine Lilly goal line save had me in chills. The two overtime periods come to a close and each and every one of those women realize this is the biggest moment of their lives, penalty kicks in the World Cup final.
As they step into place to take penalties faces are stone cold. None more that goal keeper Brianna Scurry who is up first to defend the United States. China takes the 1-0 lead then it’s the best of the best Mia Hamm who proves she is the greatest of all times and keeps the US level with her converted kick.
Both teams put in the second and it’s one the third round where I now am beginning to “feel” and remember. Scurry guards her line and gives the stare that made cover shots around the globe, SAVE! It was that moment, her passion that again had me crying like I did when I was 18 years old.
Lilly steps up for the fourth, in and China again puts one past to keep them alive. Now here is where many don’t know the history behind this last shot. Brandy Chastian, was cut three times from the national team and each one came back stronger. She had earned her fifth place penalty spot and here is where it gets really interesting. Her right ankle was serious strained and when asked if she wanted to shoot was told it would have to be with her left.
No one knew except for a player determined to win and a team backing her with confidence. Chastian steps up to the spot and gives every struggling soccer player a dream to live for, a World Cup winning story.
At this point I’m just an emotional mess. The tears continue to fall watching my role models celebrate. The sour taste in the back of my throat, the chills begin to overwhelm me as I begin to remember that moment in 1999 and just how it hit me.
The question still lies, was it a fluke or did they change the game and women’s sports forever? It wasn’t just luck, it was their job and one done well. As for changing the game it’s hard to say. We have yet to hoist the trophy since 1999 and have players that claimed to have more talent. The real question should be, “What is missing?”
There has been an Adidas commercial though out this men’s World Cup that has really had me thinking. It ends with a slogan, “make a decision”. I think it’s about time. I am great at many things but I believe it’s time to “make a decision” and become one of the greatest. I say this time and again yet something always seems to get in the way. A respectable excuse it how I like to refer to it. Maybe it’s time to try something new, be honest and ask for help. Work harder than I ever have, make some noise and move to the rhythm of the game.