Off-the-wall Questions and Answers, Queries and Anecdotes from U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper Briana Scurry.
Briana Scurry is back. Perhaps not all the way, but the greatest goalkeeper in the history of U.S. women's soccer has put herself in good position to earn a starting spot come the 2003 Women's World Cup in China. After spending almost two years away from the national team, Scurry has reshaped her body and her mind. In this month's edition of Queries & Anecdotes, Scurry talks of her comeback, memories of the 1999 Women's World Cup and leaving naked athletics to the ancient Greeks.
Center Circle: Many goalkeepers started out as field players. Did you, or were you a goalkeeper from the beginning?
Briana Scurry: "I was a goalkeeper my first year with a boys team when I was 12. I think they threw me in there because I was the only girl. For the next two years I played on the field because I was on a girl's traveling team, and I never wanted to play in goal in the first place. In my fourth year of playing, I went back to the goal because I realized I liked it and liked the control you could have in that position. Since then, no one has ever let me back on the field."
CC: What are three main differences between Atlanta, where you play for the Beat, and your hometown of Dayton, Minn.?
BS: "It snows in Minnesota and it's hotter than Hades in Atlanta. I live in the city in Atlanta and we lived in the country in Minnesota. Finally, there are just more bugs in Georgia. I mean in Minnesota, we have mosquitoes, but its seems that every species of insect resides in Atlanta."
CC: You were considered the top goalkeeper in the nation during your senior season at UMass, but how much have you improved since then?
BS: "I've improved so much since then. Then, I was long on athleticism and short on experience. Now I'd like to think I've got both. By the time I got to my sophomore and junior year, I knew I still had tons to learn. I never got any goalkeeping coaching before that. I just did what I could to keep the ball out of the net."
CC: You have to get props for saying you would run naked through the streets of Athens, Georgia, after winning the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics and then actually doing it. Should the USA win the Gold in 2004 in Athens, Greece, and you are in goal, would you reprise your famous jaunt?
BS: "That was one time only. And if you missed it, there will not be a sequel, even though I guess the Olympics started with naked athletes in Greece thousands of years ago."
CC: Besides the big save or Brandi's game-winning penalty kick in the final, what was your favorite memory from the 1999 Women's World Cup?
BS: "I'd have to say running out of the tunnel for the first game at Giants Stadium and seeing that sold-out crowd. It was amazing seeing all those people who had come out to support us after many had said that there was no way we could sell out that stadium. I think I can speak for my teammates when I say we all felt a great sense of pride. We had all worked hard for two years to get people into women's soccer and the Women's World Cup and the payoff finally came on that day. I would also have to say that the Germany game (a 3-2 win in the quarterfinals) in general was an amazing memory. It was a tremendous test in character for this team and we came out with the win."
CC: How tough was it to watch from the bench in 2000, knowing you were one of the biggest keys to winning the title in 1999?
BS: "It sucked. There is no other way to explain it."
CC: How gratifying is it to be back as a big part of this team with the 2003 Women's World Cup less than a year away, especially after what was basically a two-year absence as starter?
BS: "It's been incredibly rewarding for me. I've been training on my own to come back for over a year. I've been received incredibly well by my teammates and the staff. They have made me feel like I was missed, and that makes me feel good."
CC: Was there one thing or one event that you remember that spurred you to get back into the national team picture?
BS: "It probably was a combination of factors, but I can say that I did see a picture of myself from April of 2000, and I couldn't believe it was me. From that moment on, I decided I had to change everything: how I ate, what I ate, my training away from the team on my own, and my attitude. That photo was definitely an eye-opener."
CC: What's the toughest part of goalkeeping?
BS: "It just might be knowing when to come, or when not to come, on a through ball. Sometimes the depth, the speed of the ball, and the speed of the players are really hard to read. Sometimes it's tough to tell if your player is in front, behind, or even with their forward. I always try to give the defender the first chance to make a play, before I go full out. Of course, after the fact, you always say, 'Well, I should have gone or should have stayed.' Hopefully, I make the correct decision and that doesn't happen too often."
CC: You've been in the goal for many games when all the action was at the other end and you really didn't have much to do. What are you thinking about during those games, when you are standing in your penalty area all alone?
BS: "Sometimes I have to fight back thoughts that shouldn't be in my head, like what I am going to do for dinner? But I'm always thinking about helping the defense keep their shape at all times even if the ball is at the other end for most of the game. Sometimes, all it takes is one break down and you can let in a goal-scoring chance, so you always have to be communicating with your defense to make sure that doesn't happen."
CC: Critique the shooters on the U.S. Women's National Team. Who is the craftiest? Who has the hardest shot? Whose shot do you enjoy saving the most?
BS: "Let me start with whose shot I enjoy saving the most--that would be Julie Foudy. We are always talking smack and most of the time I get the best of her. The hardest shot would have to be Shannon MacMillan and I think she enjoys pegging the goalkeepers, but a bunch of players can really bring it. Aly Wagner and Kristine Lilly always try to get sneaky and chip me, or spin it around me. They are both really good at that."
CC: You have two 34-year old defenders in front of you and you are 31. How much does that experience help in the center of the U.S. defense?
BS: "It's priceless. Between the three of us, we probably have almost 500 caps. [Editor's note: Fawcett has 203 caps, Chastain has 158 and Scurry has 111 for or a grand total of 472.] That's a lot of games. They are both incredibly efficient players and although I played with them for many years, they still make awesome plays and I stand there in awe."
CC: You have a tattoo of a black panther on your shoulder. Is that your favorite animal? When did you get it and why?
BS: "The panther is definitely one of my favorite animals. They are very strong, cagey, crafty and quick. I got it in March of 1996 and I chose the panther because my mother always used to say that I played like a big cat in goal."
CC: What was the last concert you went to?
BS: "Most of the team went to see Billy Joel and Elton John at the Nassau Coliseum when were on Long Island for the Nike U.S. Women's Cup. It was one of the best shows I've seen in a while."
CC: Why do most goalkeepers wear number one?
BS: "I don't really know. But I like 1."
Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (The U.S. Women: Ready for China 2003?)
2) In Threes (w/ MNT defender Carlos Bocanegra)
3) Making it in the Show (w/ U-20 MNT forward Santino Quaranta)
4) Queries and Anecdotes (w/ WNT goalkeeper Briana Scurry)
5) Mark That Calendar (Nov. 17 - MNT vs. El Salvador)
6) Superstar!!! (w/ WNT midfielder Aly Wagner)
7) FAN Point/Counterpoint (Biggest Surpise on the U.S. MNT Roster)
8) "You Don't Know Jack (Marshall)" (2002 MNT trivia x2)
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