US SoccerUS Soccer

w/ WNT forward Mia Hamm

Off-the-wall Questions and Answers, Queries and Anecdotes from U.S. Women’s National Team forward Mia Hamm. What do we NOT know about Mia? That’s what we thought to ourselves when we were brainstorming for questions to ask the soccer icon and absolute living legend. She’s the subject of over a dozen books, she’s been a guest host on the “Today Show,” she’s the poster girl for Gatorade, U.S. Soccer and the WUSA, and she’s even popped up in celebrity gossip columns after her recent engagement to No-mmaaaah!!! Let’s face it--she’s been everywhere and done everything. So what’s left to find out from the high profile, but very private, pony-tailed warrior? Actually, quite a lot.

Center Circle: A case could be made that you’re one of the most recognizable female athletes in the world, but I suppose you’re used to the attention?
#9: "You get used to it.  I think, at times, you get surprised in certain environments, though.  In soccer environments, it's understandable and you're always ready for it, but on the street it can catch you by surprise.  It's cool though, and it's flattering.  It kind of makes you realize that people are paying attention to what I'm doing, as well as what the team is doing."

CC: With your father having been in the Air Force as you grew up, you’ve lived in a lot of different places. What city do you consider your home town?
#9: “Right now, it's Austin, Texas.  It's beautiful, it's hilly, it's green and the people are very nice.  The city is a great mixture of cultures and food and it's got a great music scene.  The University of Texas is very much an influence on the city and that adds some extra energy to Austin."

CC: You recently became engaged to Boston Red Sox star shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. Do you plan to hyphenate to Hamm-Garciaparra? That could be interesting for the guy who irons on the letters above that famous number nine…
#9: “No, I don't want to put that many letters on the back of the jersey.  At my age, I need the least wind-resistance from my jersey.”

CC: Have you ever had the chance to take batting practice at Fenway Park, and if so, could you jerk one over the Green Monster?
#9: “I haven't.  And I doubt I could.  I did get to take BP (batting practice) once with Tisha Venturini at PacBell Park in San Francisco right after it opened.  We did okay.  I managed to hit a couple into the outfield.”

CC: Okay, now on to more serious matters. Who's the toughest player you've played against (and you can't say Kristine Lilly or any other U.S. player that you go against in practice daily)?
#9: "(Defender) Gro Espeseth of Norway is probably one of the toughest players I've ever faced.  She's just a highly physical and competitive player, with a lot of pride."
[Editor’s Note: Espeseth, who played in the WUSA in Year 1, has retired from both the league and international soccer.]

CC: Which foreign players do you think will be the stars of the 2003 Women's World Cup?
#9: “Hanna Ljungberg of Sweden will have a great World Cup.  She can turn on you at any moment. No matter the pressure, she can just turn and go.  And she just finishes her opportunities.  I think Bai Jie will also score a lot of goals for China now that she's playing forward for them.  And Marinette Pinchon of France for sure will be one of the stars this fall.”

CC: You're on a bit of a tear lately, for both the Freedom and the National Team. Would you venture to say that you're at the top of your game?
#9: “I think I'm just more mature and more experienced. Playing in the WUSA week in and week out has helped put me in a competitive environment more consistently, and that in turn has helped me keep my game at a higher level more consistently.”

CC: Compare how you're playing now to how you felt like you were playing leading up to the '99 Cup?
#9: “I don't know, really, but I probably have more weapons to my game than in 1999, both on and off the ball.  Playing different positions has definitely helped me make adjustments and learn more tactical things about the game.  And technically, it has helped me be better able to serve balls both left and right-footed.”

CC: What do you want your legacy to be within the annals of the U.S. Women's National Team and world soccer in general?
#9: “Just that we brought more exposure and more opportunity for the women's game in the United States.  I think through the opportunities we have helped create, the game will get more exposure and and vice-versa, so women's soccer can continue to grow and more young girls will get the opportunity to play and compete and maybe one day represent their country.”

CC: We asked this question to your U.S. teammate Tiffeny Milbrett recently, but now it's your turn. How long do you see yourself playing internationally?
#9: “Well, I'm not sure, but this is probably my last World Cup.  I can see myself playing through the 2004 Olympics and then making a final decision.  At that time, I will re-evaluate how I'm feeling and how I'm playing and whether I can still help the team win.”

CC: How great is it to be able to have a home base and a home team and be able to show up for work every day for the Freedom playing in the top women's league in the world?
#9: “It's awesome.  Just being able to say, when someone asks what your profession is, ‘professional women's soccer player’ is a great feeling.  You can talk about your team and the league, and the community that you are a part of, and how we've embraced them and they've embraced us.  It's been wonderful.”

CC: The movie “Bend it Like Beckham” has done surprisingly well at the box office in the U.S. Have you seen the movie? And did you know that they almost changed the title to "Move it Like Mia" for the U.S. release?
#9: “I thought it was great.  It was great to have a soccer movie for girls.  The lessons from the film were inspiring and the best thing is that girls who play soccer can have a movie that they can identify with.”

CC: You may or may not know that Brandi made an appearance in “Air Bud 3: World Pup.” Do you have any desire to be in the movies?
#9: “It depends on the part.  It would probably have to be a romantic comedy.  Comedy has to be involved.”

CC: Do you have any definite plans after your soccer career is over?
#9: “None, whatsoever, but I am open to suggestions.”

Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (Back in the U.S.S.A.: The Big Six Venues)
2) In Threes (w/ MNT defender Greg Vanney)
3) DeeJay for a Day (w/ U-17 MNT forward Guillermo Gonzalez)
4) Queries & Anecdotes (w/ WNT forward Mia Hamm)
5) Mark That Calendar (MNT vs. Group B – France 2003)
6) Superstar!!! (w/ MNT midfielder Eddie Lewis)
7) FAN Point/Counterpoint (Who will win the 2003 Confederations Cup?)
8) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (1999 Confederations Cup Trivia)

Download this issue of Center Circle (.pdf).

We want feedback. No, really. Positive, negative, indifferent--we take all kinds. Reach us at: