Cat Whitehill on Her 100th Cap
WNT defender Cat Whitehill site down to discuss her historic 100th cap, some career highlights and her goals for 2007.
Jan. 27, 2007
ussoccer.com: You are 24 years old and are the fifth youngest player to earn 100 caps for the USA. What were the main factors that have allowed you to accumulate so many caps at such a young age?
Cat Whitehill: “I’ve been fortunate to be stay healthy for most of my career. I’ve missed a few games with injuries, and when I got married, but overall I’ve been pretty consistent. Of course, a main factor is that we’ve played so many games over the past six years and I’ve been able to start or come off the bench in most of them. I’ve also had a lot of support over the years from my family, my husband, my coaches and my teammates and they’ve all helped me grow as a player so that I can keep contributing to this team.”
ussoccer.com: Talk about the pride of playing 100 times for your country. That is a special number for an international player.
Cat: “It’s actually pretty cool, just because you are joining a list of players who shaped the history of women’s soccer. They’ve created U.S. women’s soccer and just to be a part of that is an honor and I feel really blessed.”
ussoccer.com: Do you have a most memorable game of your previous 99 caps?
Cat: “Winning the Olympic Final was one of my favorite games, not just as a soccer player, but as a person. I can’t ever forget scoring two goals against North Korea in the 2003 Women’s World Cup. That was just a fun game.”
ussoccer.com: What do you remember about your first cap?
Cat: “I remember coming in off the bench and playing with a really young team that was sent to play Italy in Long Island. It was a pretty large crowd from what I was used to. I remember getting the chills as I ran on the field, but I didn’t know how big an occasion it was until I got a ball after the game with the date and score and congratulating me on my first cap. That was pretty cool. I have the ball in a case at home.”
ussoccer.com: In 2006, you scored five goals, which is a tremendous tally for a defender, and in fact, one away from a U.S. record for a back. You almost out-scored the entire midfield. What the heck got into you?
Cat: “It was a combination of a little bit of luck and some great services from my teammates. I think four of the goals came off corner kicks and then the 70-yard goal against Sweden was kind of a fluke. But I love scoring goals. It’s so fun. I miss playing forward. You can take so many more risks. Sometimes I look at them up there and get jealous.”
ussoccer.com: You have one of the hardest shots and hit one of the best long balls on the team. How did you develop that talent?
Cat: “I think it comes from growing up playing Alabama boom ball. Basically, when I was younger, Alabama was really in its infancy as a soccer state. All they really knew was football, where you just kick the ball and run after it, so that’s what did. I guess that’s how I developed my leg.”
ussoccer.com: What are you going to do with your jersey from your 100th game?
Cat: “I’d like to get the team to sign it and then when I have a sports area in my home, I want to get it framed and hung. That might be years down the road, though.”
ussoccer.com: You first World Cup in 2003 didn’t end how you would have wanted it. Does that motivate your more for 2007?
Cat: “Absolutely. Remembering the faces of the women I played with in that World Cup, and remembering my face as I was bawling my eyes out after we lost to Germany, motivates me even more to take back the Women’s World Cup trophy. You hear about the World Cup, you watch the World Cup on TV, and you think, “Wow, that’s an incredible atmosphere.” But it’s not until you get on the field that you can truly understand the pressure of the World Cup, the excitement from the crowd and the adrenalin from your teammates. It’s the kind of feeling you want to experience every time you step on the field.”
ussoccer.com: You’ve been to China three times and have a feel for the culture and fans. What are you expecting from the Women’s World Cup as far as atmosphere?
Cat: “After watching the HBO special “Dare to Dream” and seeing the highlights from the 1991 Women’s World Cup, it makes me extremely excited to come back this fall. Playing in the Four Nations Tournament, there are always good crowds, but when it comes to the World Cup, I think it will be ten times what we get for a friendly. The Chinese really know how to organize big events and I think the World Cup is going to be spectacular.”
ussoccer.com: In early January, you road-tripped from Los Angeles to Glendale, Ariz., for the BCS Championship game to watch your beloved Florida Gators win the national championship. Were you more nervous before that game or a game in which you are playing?
Cat: “Well, I was really, really nervous before the Florida game and even more so because I have no control over the outcome. Driving from L.A. to Arizona, I was listening to radio and all the critics were saying that Florida would lose, which made me really nervous. Then after the opening kickoff, I was even more nervous, but once Chris Leak took control, I was the happiest person in Arizona. I’ve never screamed so much in my life.”