Midfielder Shannon Boxx became the first uncapped player in the history of the U.S. Women’s National Team to make a Women’s World Cup Team, then scored in her first two international games, only the third U.S. female player ever to achieve that feat. During the Women’s World Cup, she will share her unique perspective and experiences in a special diary feature forussoccer.com's U.S. Women’s National Team Plus!, titled, "The Soap Boxx.".
Three years ago I would never, ever have imagined myself in the situation I’m in now – as a member of the 2003 U.S. Women’s World Cup Team. Three years ago, I almost gave up soccer altogether. I had just gotten back from playing "professionally" in Germany, which was really semi-pro at best, and I had settled into the fact that soccer wasn’t going to be a part of my life anymore. I had told myself that the day it wasn’t fun anymore to strap on the boots was the day it was time to give it up. What was I thinking?! Luckily, that day never came, and right now, I sit 48 hours from walking into a huge stadium for a Women’s World Cup game.
Even after the WUSA season, I really didn’t think I had a chance at the World Cup Team even though it was my best pro season by far. The fact that I was called into the national team training camp at the end of August came as a surprise. I wasn’t even the first to know. I found out at a team meal for the New York Power when we were in Atlanta for our last regular season game. My Power and national team teammate Christie Pearce walked into the room and said, "Congratulations!!" I said, "for what?" Apparently, my name was on a email to all the players getting called into that camp, so I rushed upstairs to check and sure enough, I was going to San Diego for the final pre-Women’s World Cup camp. Even after that, I thought my chances were at the Women’s World Cup Team were slim at best.
But whether or not I had the chance to make the team, I still wanted to prove myself to April Heinrichs so maybe I would have a chance to keep in the running for the 2004 Olympic Team. Honestly, I didn’t think I would make it, but my teammates were so positive, coming up to me and saying things like, "Boxxy, you’re doing great. Keep it up. You never know?"
I thought I had a good week of camp, but it was hard to gauge my performance because we really only had two hard days of training during that time. Ironically, I think the fact that I thought I didn’t have a shot helped me make the team, because I was as calm and composed as I’ve ever been with the national team. I had nothing to lose. It really helped me settle down and play well enough in the end to be among the 20 players chosen.
The day she chose the team I went into the meeting not knowing if she would even choose the team that day. In fact, I didn’t even know if April wanted to meet with me because I figured she had to meet with all the veterans. After she told me I made the team, April said that no one knew who was on the team yet and that I should keep it under wraps until she told everyone in camp whether they made it or not. When I walked out of the meeting, there were a bunch of players waiting in the hallway of the hotel and I swear I had to do the best acting job of my life not to give it away! Then I went to my room and pretty much scream-whispered to my mom on my cell phone, "Mom, I made the team!"
From there, it has been a whirlwind. Life on this team, especially the Women’s World Cup Team, is pretty crazy. So much has happened in the last four weeks that it’s hard to believe we are so close to the opening game against Sweden this Sunday. I must say I am pretty calm, but pretty excited. Our trip from Charlottesville to Washington, D.C. was very focusing. It was like, "we’re here and it’s time to play." I really don’t think I’ll be nervous until we step on the field on Sunday, but a little bit of nervousness is always a good thing. My mom, my sister and my fiancé are going to be there, so that will be special to me. I have no idea if I’m going to play or not, but if I get to step on that field, I promise I will do anything and everything and use every ounce of my energy to help this team win.
I tell myself that I must also remember to take a step back and take it all in. I want to enjoy the moment and never take anything for granted. The funny thing is that I still see myself as just the "kid next door" who is getting to play with superstars. It’s something I wish all players out there like me could experience. We never got the headlines. We were always looked at as the "hard workers" and the "role players." We had big dreams, but needed the opportunity and the right situation to achieve our goals. It just goes to show that you should never give up on your dreams. Sometimes they really do come true.