Of the 90,125 fans that watched the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., were thousands of young girls with dreams of representing their country in a world championship. Of those thousands, one was bound to make it.
Her name is Stephanie Logterman.
The 18-year-old defensive midfielder for the U.S. Under-19 Women’s National is currently in Phuket, Thailand, with her teammates preparing to open the 2004 FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Championship on Nov. 11 against Asian champions South Korea. It has been a long journey for the Austin, Texas native, with one life-changing stop at the Rose Bowl.
As a 13-year-old, Logterman flew with her mom, dad and younger sister Lindsey to Los Angeles, visiting cousins near Pasadena along the way, and were there on July 10, 1999, to witness one of the greatest moments in women’s sports history.
Her parents had surprised her by ordering tickets to the championship game and when they came in the mail, it was like Christmas in July.
“My parents definitely earned ‘present of the year award,’” said Logterman. “Ever since I’d been in elementary school, the full women’s team had been my favorite team. All the (Women’s World Cup) games were so far away because they didn’t have any in Texas, so if I was going to see one game, it was going to be the Final.”
The match came in the middle of a hectic summer for the newly minted teenager, who attended her first ODP regional camp and had her eyes opened to women’s soccer at the highest level on a sweltering hot day in Pasadena.
“Before then, I’d never really took practice that seriously,” said Logterman of her pre-WWC mindset. “I got Mia’s book (Go for the Goal) that summer and read the whole thing and that’s what really motivated me to train seriously and to practice on my own. Then seeing (the WWC Final) brought a whole new intensity to my training.”
Intensity was rippling through the Rose Bowl as Logterman sat on the edge of her seat, transfixed, as Brandi Chastain stepped up to take the final penalty kick.
“I just wanted them to win so badly,” said Logterman. “It was just an awesome thing to be a part of, being there with all those people cheering for the U.S. I’d never been to an event like that. I remember knowing that the President was there and the whole experience was just overwhelming. I was just praying she would make it.”
The ball, of course, did find the back of the net, Chastain’s jersey came off and Logterman, along with 90,000 other fans and 40 million more watching on TV across the USA, went nuts.
“I was so nervous, but it was a huge relief when the ball went in, but only for about a half a second, then it was just crazy,” said Logterman. “I was jumping up and down and screaming and I just remember looking at the scoreboard, and a huge ‘1999 Women’s World Cup Champions USA!’ popped up. Wow.”
Logterman had been playing soccer since she was four, but the Women’s World Cup Final showed her that there are some wonderful rewards and some special goals worth shooting for, but only for those who have the mental and physical toughness to make it to the top.
“I’d always been competitive,” said Logterman, who will begin classes at her hometown University of Texas in the Spring. “My friends and I would play one v. one in the back yard and stuff, but I’d never really done technical work on my own or anything like that. That experience really inspired me to know that, hey, I can do this. I can be the best if I put in the work.”
The next summer, Logterman was called into U.S. Under-14 Development camp where she was first spotted by former U.S. U-19 National Team head coach Tracey Leone. From there, call-ups to the U-16s, U-17s and U-19s followed until she was, like her heroes on the Women’s National Team, named to the roster for a world championship.
“I dreamed since I was little about playing for the National Team, but to experience that kind of game live at the stadium, it was even better than I had dreamed,” said Logterman. “I remember thinking that this is something I really want to experience as a player myself. When I got called into the U-19s for the first time, I thought, ‘wow, this could really happen.”
So now as Logterman steps onto the world’s stage, she can thank some of her role models --- she lists Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly and Joy Fawcett in particular – who helped get her there.
“All that work paid off in making this team, but we are here now and nothing else in the past matters,” said Logterman. “Now, we have to look forward and put it all together as a team to have success in the tournament. We’re all honored to be here representing the USA. It’s a great tradition and none of us will ever take this opportunity for granted.”