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Icon of the week: Mia Hamm

Everyone Likes Hamm

As arguably one of the greatest soccer players still alive today, Mia Hamm is a legend in her own right. Born on March 17, 1972 in Selma, Alabama, Hamm began playing soccer when she was five years old (Contemporary Heroes and Heroines). However Hamm did not stick to only one sport, or even “female” league sports. She played on numerous boys’ teams: she played baseball as a shortstop and a pitcher, basketball as a point guard, and even football as a wide receiver and a cornerback (Newsweek). As the only girl in the boys’ soccer league Hamm was bullied because the boys disliked being shown up by a girl. This did not discourage Hamm, as early as 8am she would be on the field practicing and improving herself. She could be seen practicing on an empty field as early as 8:00 in the morning (Newsweek). At fifteen years old Hamm was invited to play for the female North Texas State team in a tournament in Metairie, Louisiana (Notable Sports Figures). There she met women’s University of North Carolina soccer coach Anson Dorrance who immediately wanted her on the US women’s national team. Hamm made her first appearance on the team on August 3, 1987 but did not score her first goal until July 5, 1990 (Contemporary Heroes and Heroines). Hamm enrolled in North Carolina University where her skills continued to improve. She played on four consecutive NCAA championship teams from 1989 to 1993, was a three-time National Player of the Year, and became the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer (Notable Sports Figures). She set all-time conference records with 103 goals, 72 assists, and 278 points; her college number 19 was retired in 1994 (Newsmakers).  

Hamm later played in the first ever women’s soccer Olympic tournament, helping the United States team push past China in the finals for the gold (Contemporary Heroes and Heroines). In the year 1999 she surpassed Elisabetta Vignotto’s record for the most goals scored in women’s international soccer in one year with 108 goals (Soccermaniak). At the time of her retirement in 2004 Hamm had scored 158 goals, the most in women’s international soccer history, and more goals than any other soccer player from the United States (Soccermaniak). Hamm skill, success, and determination made her a role model in the United States, especially to young female athletes who did not have anyone else to look up to (Contemporary Heroes and Heroines).

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