by Jenna Pel. 4/5/2010.
Hamm. Foudy. Chastain. Fawcett.
A little over a decade ago, these were much more than names. In a sense, they were couriers of women’s athletics as a whole. The first generation of the U.S. Women’s National Team achieved fame and commercial success historically only reserved for male athletes. Few female athletes have done it before, perhaps none have done it since. For several years they transcended the soccer fields they played on. They were dependable pitch women and the architects of a professional women’s league and (it can’t be said enough) role models for millions of young girls. This one included.
The legacy that these foremothers have left us with is well-documented. Despite the collapse of WUSA in 2003, the cultural and sporting impact that the 99ers made cannot be overstated. At the school I work at, I once asked one of my soccer-loving, third-grade students who her favorite female soccer player was. Her answer: Mia Hamm. This despite being born one year after the WNT hoisted the Women’s World Cup in the Rose Bowl. I was a little disappointed that she didn’t mention Abby Wambach or Hope Solo or Heather O’Reilly but regardless, her curt answer reminded me that the legacy of the 99ers lives on. The WPS logo does bear a striking resemblance to Mia Hamm’s likeness, after all.
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