A monthly feature about a U.S. Men’s, Women’s or Youth National Team player from the U.S. Soccer Communications Department.
This month, we turn the well-worn spotlight on veteran U.S. Women’s National Team defender extraordinaire Brandi Chastain, who is still riding the wave of overnight popularity following her ultra-clutch strike of the ball in the dramatic 1999 Women’s World Cup. Now two and a half years after that fateful day, when the people from the "Late Show" call, she’s been heard to ask,"Dave who?" Okay, I’m exaggerating, but you kinda get the point.
"Shining Back at the Spotlight"
On Brandi Chastain's list of favorite things, you might find a soccer ball, her two dogs (Tobi and Noel), her portable DVD player and her high-heeled strappy sandals. But since the historic penalty kick in the 1999 Women's World Cup Final propelled her instantly to a unique form of global celebrity, the one thing Chastain values most is something a bit less tangible: down time. Probably because it's the one thing of which she has so little.
If you were to whip off your shirt in front of 40 million Americans and an estimated world-wide television audience of 1 billion people while celebrating one of the most dramatic moments in the history of women's sports (and look marvelous doing it), then grace the covers of the top four magazines in the United States in the same week, well, you'd be in demand too.
Ironically, of all the U.S. players, Chastain was perhaps the most suited for a life in the spotlight. She enjoys the role and she's good at it. Very good.
The constant attention, travel, interviews, endorsements and interaction with fans are things she cherishes and would never give up, especially because everywhere she goes she is spreading the soccer gospel on the game she loves.
"I thoroughly enjoy the travel and meeting new people around the country and the world," said Chastain. "One of the most exciting and fascinating things about life in general is getting out and experiencing it all yourself, but there definitely there are times when I feel I could use a couple of mornings in a row sleeping in."
So as much as she loves being a spokesperson for the women's game, Chastain is most at peace in her convertible with the top down and the music blaring as she drives to training for the San Jose CyberRays, or perhaps up the 280 Freeway to San Francisco for a little shopping.
"The atmosphere in San Francisco is energizing," said Chastain. "I enjoy the people, the different faces and the number of languages that you will hear in one afternoon. I just love the drive up to the city with the ocean on one side. It's probably as close as I ever want to be to flying. You can get lost in your own thoughts, enjoy the fresh air and just let go a little bit."
But as much as she likes to get away, Chastain is most at home on the soccer field. She loves every part of the game, from the equipment to the history to the unique challenges. She follows European soccer closer than perhaps any female player in the United States, can not pass on a English Premier League game if she happens to catch one while channel surfing and gets almost as upset if the modern day San Jose Earthquakes lose a game as she does when the CyberRays drop a match.
Chastain fell in love with the game as a little girl when her parents had season tickets to the Earthquakes of the NASL, and she worshiped the heroes of American soccer past, ironically, one day to become one herself.
But her obsession with soccer, like Chastain, has both grown and matured through the years, until now, when she finds pleasure both in front of 90,000 fans and away from the game. It is this balance between the intensity on the pitch and the ability to relax away from the field that has brought her the most satisfaction.
Chastain spent 28 years in virtual anonymity, popular within the soccer community but unlikely to get stopped for an autograph at the mall. No more. She is recognized often and always asked about the moment when she admittedly "just went a bit crazy" and made black sports bras the undergarment "de rigueur" of young female athletes everywhere.
"I've been lucky to have found something that allows me to express myself while making mistakes and learning and growing," added Chastain. "I've also learned that if I work hard enough and dedicate myself, I can make things happen. One thing that life has taught me, and it's not a lesson learned quickly, is that dreams do come true."
Table of Contents
In this second issue of 2002 of U.S. Soccer’s monthly fan newsletter / e-zine, you’ll find pieces on a pair of CyberRays, a pair of Gold Cup 2002 champions, a pair of MLS Drafts and a pair of Women’s National Team coaches in the eight items listed below. Some will return next month, others will be brand spankin’ new for March.
1) Armchair Midfielder (A Look at the MLS Allocation and Dispersal Drafts)
2) DJ for a Day (w/ MNT defender Pablo Mastroeni)
3) Queries and Anecdotes (w/ MNT forward Josh Wolff)
4) Making it in the Show (w/ WNT goalkeeper LaKeyshia Beene)
5) Superstar!!! (w/ WNT defender Brandi Chastain)
6) Mark That Calendar (MNT vs. Italy -- Feb. 13)
7) Point/Counterpoint (w/ current WNT coach April Heinrichs & former WNT coach Tony DiCicco)
8) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (MLS Draft trivia)
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