The Women’s World Cup Champs of '99: Where Are They Now?
As U.S. Women's Soccer fans root themselves hoarse over the dazzling athleticism of Team USA, led by Abby Wambach, Carlie Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, et al, it's hard for nostalgists to avoid comparisons to the legendary team that went all the way, snatching victory from China to win the World Cup in 1999. Mia, Brandi, Julie, Michelle, Kristine, Joy, Briana...these women were the heart of the team that ESPN called "the best U.S. women's team that ever was." The winning penalty kick in OT scored by defender Brandi Chastain, and her jog-bra baring victory stance, became an iconic image for girl power everywhere and forced America to finally take women's soccer seriously.
Today, some of those players still regularly lace up their cleats, while others have traded the turf for other pursuits (no balls involved). Check out where a few members of the Team of '99 are at now and how they'll be spending this year's Cup.
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Brandi Chastain Number 6, defender World Cup and Olympic champion soccer player, mom, sports analyst, assistant coach for Santa Clara women’s soccer, co-founder of BAWSI Current play time: “Mostly I’ve played on a women’s team just below the pro level with a lot of young girls half my age. I also coach at Santa Clara University and I play with those collegiate women every day.” Typical day: “Insane. My car is my office, my locker, my vehicle of transportation. It’s everything. I have my computer, iPad, phone and soccer gear all in there. As a mom, you have to do five things at once because otherwise you never know if you’ll get to everything. I do a lot of appearances and interviews, particularly in the spring and summer, when people are talking about soccer. I don’t go to an office. I’m just constantly on the phone. I get business done anywhere I can on the move.” Shape-up routine: “When my son started his new school, I didn’t know any other parents and I wanted to meet people. So one day I filled the back of my car with all the workout equipment I had, dropped him off and announced that any parents could come meet me in the parking lot after dropoff for a workout. Now I have about 15 women who come consistently. It’s a great support system. We go straight to the track and I set up a workout with running, intervals, body weight work, weight lifting and trail running on Fridays. It keeps me motivated to work out because I’m just thinking about them.” Little ballers: “My older son played in high school, and I coach my younger son’s team.” Weirdest fan encounter: “Once I was doing an appearance in Akron, Ohio, and I stopped on the road to get some tea. When I got out of the car, these big men – who looked like they were about to go hunting – were staring at me. We were in the middle of nowhere, and I was getting a little worried because I definitely didn’t think these guys recognized me. Then one of them asked, ‘Are you Brandi Chastain? My daughter plays soccer and loves you!’ Then he asked if I would sign the side of his car, a beautiful renovated Chevelle that he was planning to give his daughter for her 15th birthday. So somewhere in Ohio, a girl is driving around with my 20-inch signature along her car.” Women’s World Cup Plans: “I’m going to be glued to the television when I’m not in Vancouver watching it live.” Advice for Team 2015: “Each game is unique, and you have to have an extraordinary focus on one game at a time. You can’t rush through them…. Take a breath – not just to be calm but also to enjoy it. If you enjoy it, you’ll play better soccer. Remember that each game stands alone. At the end of three games you can look back, but you can’t start thinking about the third game until you’ve played the first.” Follow her at: @brandichastain
Julie Foudy Number 11, midfielder World Cup and Olympic champion soccer player, mom, sports analyst, founder of Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy, co-founder of BAWSI Current play time: “It would require a paramedic on the sideline if I played again. I play with my kids, just messing around, but nothing organized. I’ll do some charity events, but not often. I also run and do yoga.” Typical day: “I’m on the road so much for work. I get up at 5:30, do a good hour of work before getting the kids up. If I’m not traveling for work with ESPN, I’ll take them to school, get in a workout, and then head back home to work before picking them up. If I’m in mom mode, I try to be really present.” Shape-up routine: “Paddle boarding and fun boot camp classes. My whole thing is having fun with friends. After I drop the kids at school, if I can get 45 minutes to an hour with other moms, that’s a bonus. I’m trying to do more paddle board surfing…Do not get in the water if I’m out there, I about kill people.” Little ballers: “My kids have no choice! We’ve always said to them, you don’t have to play soccer. They do basketball, gymnastics and flag football too; I’m a big believer in diversifying sports.” Weirdest fan encounter: “You go into a big city and think you won’t get recognized as much, but I’ll be in a restaurant in New York, and someone in the kitchen will come out and say hello. It happens with taxi drivers, too, and even young kids who’ve seen a documentary.” Women’s World Cup plans: “I will be working for ESPN the whole time. I’ll be covering it for Sports Center and shows on ESPN in Connecticut, then I’ll head to Canada to follow the U.S. team, on-air and writing for ESPN-W.” Advice for Team 2015: “Laugh. Because that’s the one thing we always had – this sense of enjoyment of the moment. Pressure is a privilege. Think of it as a wonderful opportunity rather than something strangling you. Smile, breath and laugh your way through it.” Follow her at: @juliefoudy
Kristine Lilly Number 13, midfielder World Cup and Olympic champion soccer player, mom, sports analyst, assistant coach for University of Texas women’s soccer, founder of Kristine Lilly Soccer Academy, co-founder of TeamFirst Soccer Academy Current play time: “I don’t play recreationally, but I’m a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Texas and I will step in with the girls at practice.” Typical day: “I live in the suburbs and work at the University of Texas. I’m lucky to go outside everyday to practice. It’s not easy-going but not too fast-paced either. It’s a good balance and the kids sometimes join me at practice and join me for our home games.” Shape-up routine: “I still work out but of course not at the level we use to. I run, do the elliptical and have gotten into Orangetheory.” Little ballers: “My oldest plays. She is almost 7 so they play 3v3 and it is fun to watch. My youngest, who is almost 4, just started a once-a-week session with Soccer Shots in Austin, Texas.” Weirdest fan encounter: “Just recently I stopped at a fruit stand in Austin and I was talking to a couple and they were from near my hometown in Connecticut. After I said I was from Wilton, the guy said, ‘Oh wow, Kristine Lilly is from there.’ I told him who I was and he said, ‘I thought you looked familiar.'” Women’s World Cup plans: “I’m going to watch as many games as I can. I’ll be working camps and working with ESPN doing an evening show on ESPN FC.” Advice for Team 2015: “The World Cup is the highest level and biggest stage. It will bring up the level of intensity and nerves. Take a deep breath and relax a bit. After the first game, the nerves will subside a little. Stay focused on the games at hand and don’t worry about outside distractions.” Follow her at: @kristinelilly
Briana Scurry Number 1, goalkeeper World Cup and Olympic champion soccer player, public speaker Current play time: “I play other sports recreationally; I’m currently playing co-ed softball. Typical day: “I live in Arlington, Virginia. I usually get up early, have my coffee and enjoy the morning. Speeches are my main source of income, so depending on where I am that morning I either have meetings, signings or a speech that day. If I’m at home, then I usually work out five days a week in the early afternoon. In the evenings I’m home; I spend time with friends. We have dinner, catch a ballgame or a movie, or just chill.” Shape-up routine: “I’m just recently back in the gym regularly since getting medical clearance from my doctors last October after a year of therapy for my concussion symptoms. I run sprints on the treadmill, moderate cardio on the elliptical, and an intense strength training program using free weights and machines. I watch what I eat. I’m feeling great, energetic and alive at 43! “ Weirdest fan encounter: “A day or two after the World Cup, I was in Pasadena. As I was walking to lunch with a friend, a guy who was driving down the street honked his horn and called out to me. Then he got out of his car, ran over to me, gave me a high five, and ran back to his car! Left his car running with the door open in the middle of traffic and everything! Hilarious! “ Women’s World Cup plans: “I look forward to attending the final in Vancouver and the week leading up to it. I have various appearances planned and will be making numerous media appearances throughout the tournament. Plus, I’ll be tweeting my insights, thoughts and musings. “ Advice for Team 2015: “Now is the time you have always dreamed of! The biggest stage in the world is ready, all eyes are on you, along with the hopes of millions. It’s time to take your place, the curtain has been drawn, now…dance, dance, dance!” Follow her at: @briscurry
Michelle Akers Number 10, midfielder World Cup and Olympic champion soccer player, mom, founder of Michelle Akers Horse Rescue, Inc. Current play time: “I’ve had over 30 orthopedic surgeries from my soccer career, so not a lot of running going on at this point. I stay in shape working with my horses and taking care of my eight-acre farm!” Typical day: “I spend most of my day working on my farm and taking care of my horses, other animals and property. That means my usual attire is cowboy boots and jeans and every day I’m cleaning stalls, stacking hay, fixing fences, mowing pasture and grooming lots of horses. I also train kids and adults in strength, fitness and conditioning, and do a little soccer training on the side. Plus, I’m a single mom with a 10-year-old boy, Cody, so if I’m done with the other stuff, I’m doing something with him. My days are full and I am non-stop.” Shape-up routine: “I run a horse rescue, so I do a lot of physical work taking care of them, my farm, and the other animals in my care. I’m usually up at 5 and doing stuff on the farm until 5 p.m. I also try to lift two times a week and get bodywork done once a week to keep my injuries from catching up to me. If I had time, I’d do power yoga and kick boxing/MMA training. I love that.” Little ballers: “To quote my 10-year-old boy, he ‘hates soccer’ but he loves to jump in goal and goes to Tony DiCicco’s SoccerPlus Goalkeeper camp here at my farm. He also loves football – the American kind – fishing, swimming, lifting weights, dodge ball and all kinds of other activities.” Weirdest fan encounter: “Public restroom. Someone slid a magazine under the door and asked me to sign.” How the game has changed: “I don’t think the game has changed. Soccer is soccer. But the opportunity to play has increased tremendously and the awareness of the sport has grown as well.” Women’s World Cup Plans: “To watch from my couch! And I’ll be at the 3rd place and final with my son.” Advice for Team 2015: “The hay is in the barn. So whatever you’ve done to prepare over the past years and months is what you bring to each game in the World Cup. If you did it right then you have all you need, and there’s only one thing left to do: kick ass.” Follow her at: @michelleakers10