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U.S. WNT Conference Call With Hamm, Foudy, Lilly - July 30, 2004



U.S. WNT Forward Mia Hamm


On the importance of winning the Olympics...

"We set out at every tournament to win. I think that's been one of the strengths of our team throughout the years, and this tournament is no different.  I think that in regards to myself, and I'm sure Julie, that's how you want to go out, is on a high note, on a winning note.  That's what we've been preparing to do for the last six months.  We'll see what happens in the tournament but, right now, that's what our focus is."

On the difference between the World Cup and Olympics in terms of preparation and atmosphere...
"The first thing obviously is the tournament itself. With the World Cup it's just our tournament, so I think you kind of bear a little bit more of the burden in regards to the media. With the World Cup being here (last year) and decided so late, I know our team had to travel a lot, as did the other team. With the Olympics, we are in outside venues and we don't have all of that focus that is going to be in Athens, which I think gives us an opportunity to maybe enjoy the games a little bit more in regards to all the excitement and nervousness that is going in and out of the village. But, we are extremely excited. The Olympics as Americans, I know for me, growing up it is something you always dreamed of participating in whether it is as an athlete, an organizer or a volunteer. For the three of us it is our third and we are going to enjoy it."

On if you ever think about how this may be the last time playing with the "Fab Five"...

"That is in your head, but at the same time not only these guys, but this is the last time I will get to play with this group of players. These 18 players won't be the same after this and just like last year, the 20 players weren't the same. Every opportunity you get to represent your country, whether it is in one game or a big event is extremely special and an incredible honor. This tournament is no different. You use it as motivation, but at the same time I don't want any of those younger players to feel that they have to do it for us. They've worked extremely hard and they should be proud of where they are, and play for themselves, their family and definitely for the team."

On what Lindsay Tarpley can accomplish when she gets back to the University of North Carolina...
"We get to watch her everyday at practice and she just has incredible instincts. She goes out there and she turns on players rather easily and hits one-time shots. I think she reminds me a bit more of Kristine (Lilly). Lill would hit shots at times that I would definitely never take because I didn't have that confidence. Kristine and Tarp have that confidence and I think it makes a difference. She is incredibly athletic and I just keep going back to how her soccer instincts are so good. She's going to keep getting better. I think you talk to her and technically she thinks she can improve and tactically she's just going to get better, definitely on this team and at Carolina. I mean she just finished her sophomore year and I know being in that program that in your last two years you just take a jump, and she's ready for it and she wants it."

On any concerns she has about safety...
"Right now, we are taking precautions with that regard. We did receive a backpack that said 'USA' and I think we are going to tone that down a little bit. But for us, it is the Olympic games, we're excited and we put faith in the people that have been hired to take care of security. I know our Federation and our government have taken steps to make ensure the safety of the American athletes. We might not have as much free reign as we did in Sydney and definitely in Atlanta, but we're going to the Olympics and that is special in itself. We are excited about that."

On Abby Wambach and Heather O'Reilly...
"They've done a tremendous job.  Abby had great success in the WUSA and the transition to the national team because of that success, and because of her focus and mentality has made it a bit easier.  At the same time, what's great about Abby is that she wants to win every game, and she wants to impact every game.  And she's willing to learn and to improve herself. Same with Heather O'Reilly. Seeing Heather's face when she saw the list that she made the team was priceless.  Last year, before unfortunately breaking her leg before the roster was named for the World Cup she had a great chance of making that roster, and she continued to battle back and work through it, and she helped North Carolina to a national championship.  She came back into camp and was willing to do anything she possibly could to help this team win and to be on this team, and I think she was justly rewarded for that."

On Abby Wambach and Heather O'Reilly's contributions...

"It's hard to say how much or how little playing time we all get, especially Heather.  I look at Heather and she has the skill that is absolutely frightening to any defender and she's the fastest person on our team. She's one of the fastest players I've ever seen on a soccer field and whether she starts or comes in off the bench, that's a weapon that's kind of hard to contain. Her mentality is that whatever you need me to do, I'll do it.  As a coach and as a teammate you have so much respect for that because that's a player who if she plays 90 minutes or five minutes, she wants to help this team win."

On the long training camp...
"Last year was different from the standpoint that we didn't have a residency program and we pretty much came right off our WUSA seasons and stepped right into the World Cup.  It takes awhile, even though I've played alongside Julie and Kristine for going on 17 years now, to get back into rhythm and for a lot of us, we played different positions on our WUSA teams than we do with the national team.  I know I played a lot in midfield and attacking midfield as well as up top, and through the training camp we had the opportunity to gel more together and I think the four of us, Brandi, Kristine, Julie and myself, being able to live together for the last time probably, it just brought us all closer together and made you appreciate the time that we have together and all the experiences that we've had.  I think the first couple months of training camp were hard physically and psychologically but the team feels good, I know I feel probably as good as I've felt in a long time, emotionally, mentally, and physically. I'm really excited about this game on Sunday and I?m excited to get over to Greece."

On the emotions of the last event...

"I'm just thinking about right now and I'm excited about going over there and excited about being in the Olympics, in the birthplace of the Olympic Games, and the birthplace of democracy.  I mean that's all we're talking about right now is the upcoming elections and democracy.  And here we go to spend three and a half weeks in the cradle of democracy so we?re excited.  Like I said I feel good physically and emotionally, and just really can?t wait."

On failing to defend two major championships...
"This team has been incredibly successful for so many reasons that a lot of people don't get to see and there was no group of people that was more disappointed with what happened last summer than the group of players and the coaching staff.  The standards we set for ourselves are extremely high, and I think as a team what we keep telling ourselves is that we set those standards.  This year our approach to training camp, our approach to qualifying for the Olympics, our approach to every tournament has been extremely high.  And whether it's the Germany loss that motivates you or your last game that motivates you, this team will continue once all of us are gone to set high standards.  Regardless of the results to be proud in that because it?s not easy to set the standards that this team sets."

On the tough times during residency...
"It was the first couple of months of training camp and I think that people were excited about getting together and getting to play a lot alongside each other, and it was just demanding, physically.  We did some type of fitness three times a week.  And they had a reason for it, and I think at the time, especially when you're running it, you can't see that far ahead.  I think it definitely helped us, physically, deepening our base.  I think it brought us together as a team.  I think it created a new relationship with our coach in regards to talking to her about how we felt.  And she was very positive in terms of that feedback.  We look back on it now and kind of laugh, but at the same time, our coaching staff didn't go in there blindly, deciding at practice, 'Well, we're going to do this today.' They had a plan, and they had people involved to help them develop that plan, and as players, it was hard.  I don't think that there's anyone on this team that felt that it wasn't.  But at the same time, you have to find positives in even the toughest of situations, and I think our team did that."


U.S. WNT Captain and Midfielder Julie Foudy

On how you assure the veteran players get enough rest so they are at their peak if the team does advance to the medal round...
"We like to stay horizontal as much as possible. Actually, one of the great things about the Olympics is range of all the other events. During the Olympics when we're not playing we go to the lounge in the hotel and we just prop ourselves down for the entire day and just watch the other sports, it's just fantastic. You learn to that you have to stay off your feet and even though it is a beautiful country and you want to see a lot of it, and we are going to be in Crete which is even greater, you just learn to stay off your feet."

On what is your proudest accomplishment during your time with the WNT...

"I think probably that we've helped build this sport in this country. Having been on this team for so long we got to watch it evolve over the last two decades. Just convincing people that women's soccer could be a viable sport and could be popular, and that soccer in general could be well watched. This has been a battle we have been fighting for a decade, so I think watching it evolve and being pioneers in that effort. I mean Mia especially, who has I think on her shoulders alone carried the burden of promoting women's soccer in this country and has done a fantastic job at it. I feel good that we have reached out to a lot of people and not just during World Cups and Olympics, but have impacted a lot of young kids' lives in a positive way. Especially, young girls, which for us as young girls years ago - not anymore - we never had those role models."

On how you have savored this final trip and if you've had time to reflect...

"I have short-term memory lost, so reflection doesn't work. No, I think the Olympics are emotional enough as they are, so to reflect would just put me over the top. (laughing) I've been just tying to say let's just enjoy these last months together and the same with the being in Manhatten Beach and rooming together.  We've really tried to stay away from 'this is our last practice together' or 'this is our last breakfast together,' you know those kinds of ideas. We are just looking forward to a great month over in Greece and having a ball. When we're having fun, we're doing well."

On if they are looking forward to a chance to play Germany, the team they lost to in the 2003 World Cup...

"I hadn't even thought that far, actually, first we have to get though our first round games, right now we're just focusing on Greece and that first game. Playing a team that is going to be so excited.  They're playing in their home country against one of the top teams in the world. We've always tried to maintain the philosophy of, you can't look too far ahead or you're going to shoot yourself in the foot by doing that, so we're just focusing on that first round."

On if playing outside Athens and being away from the major Olympic festivities helps or hurts...

"I think it actually helps because one of the things you consistently hear from Olympic athletes is that the village is chaotic.  People are ending at different times and there are parties going on.  It's a real challenge to focus.  For us, with soccer, over the last two Olympics, we've been in satellite villages.  You lose a bit of the aura, and we're not hitting the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, but I think as an athlete, it's much more conducive environment for focusing and just making sure that you're well taken care of and your mind is on just playing soccer."

On whose idea was it to rent the Manhattan Beach condo they stayed in during residency and if they got their deposit back...
"You get thirty days to get your deposit back. I assure you that I talked to Angela, our trusty real estate agent, and we're getting our deposit back. We were training close by there and everyone wanted to be by the beach and it was close to Carson, so when we had an opportunity to do it, considering this is our last time together, we wanted to make the most of it. The people there were wonderful, we had tremendous neighbors and everyone, like I said, made us really feel as if we were at home.  And our tans look awesome."

On if losing two major finals (2003 World Cup, 2002 Olympics) has been on her mind...

"I think it weighs on your mind all the time.  After the '95 loss to Norway we went straight into residency in Florida and it was something we talked about daily.  (We talked) about never being in that situation again, and we ended up winning the '96 gold medal.  I think this residency is very similar to the '96 residency because the timing was very similar.  So we lost in 2003 to Germany, and the same thing with this residency, it was a topic all the time.  We were just doing set pieces the other day in training during one of our last days in L.A.  Within that practice, we brought up the Germany game four different times, and talked about examples of when they scored their goal against us, the first one, and a second goal against us.  I think it's a great motivator.  It's something that is special about this team.  There's always a lesson you can extract from a loss and not to bury our heads with confidence, but to get better from it and find out how, when we're put in that situation next time around, we can come out on the other side of it. At the same time, it's not like we've beaten ourselves up for a year and are negative about it.  It's like, 'Look, it happened. Germany is a great team. Lets give them a lot of respect because they are a great team, and now lets go to back to this Olympics and make sure things are different.'"

On midfielder Aly Wagner...

"Aly, as everyone knows, is a great playmaker.  She can serve balls behind in backlines like no one else.  She has the vision to put forwards in and midfielders in.  She's just always threatening with that ball, behind the backlines.  I had the pleasure of playing with her a few years in San Diego and every time she steps onto the field, whether she's a starter or coming off the bench, you know you're going to be dangerous because of the balls she's sending in.  I think she's playing phenomenal right now."

On being scrutinized in the media...
"It is a very good sign. (My husband) was just saying there was an article in the paper the other day about us that wasn't positive and I said well, that's a great sign, people are paying attention.  There was a day when it didn't really matter, and now. I think it's a sign of respect that they're paying attention and are comfortable with criticizing and evaluating the team the way they do with men?s teams."

On how important it is for the veterans to leave the game as the top team in the world...

"In terms of the team's reputation, I think it's more that the world around us is getting better, the countries around us.  We've always known that the gap, that was once a little bit wider, is closing.  We have tremendous respect for those other countries.  I think it's a good sign that women's soccer, which in some areas of the world was frowned upon, is finally starting to be culturally accepted.  We've seen places that, traditionally, didn't promote women's soccer are funding it.  I mean, Mexico being in the Olympics for the first time is a great example.  They're now funding a women's program and spending a lot of energy and money on the youth programs as well, for girls.  But sure, it's something we talk about a lot.  It doesn't matter if it's our last Olympics or if it was our first, we want to do well.  That?s the standard, like Mia was talking about before, that we've set as a team."


U.S. WNT Midfielder Kristine Lilly

On how Lindsay Tarpley has come in the last few months...
"I think Lindsey has done a remarkable job. I remember watching her in the finals of the Under-19 World Cup a couple years ago and she score the winning goal (in the final) there, so right from there you knew she was going to make an impact.  From the beginning of this year she has had a lot of playing time and scored a lot of goals. Just to see her develop in this past year has been amazing. She is always trying to learn something, she is working hard, she's listening, and she's listening to everything I think that the older players are saying to pick up some of the little nuances we have gone through. She is making a great impact and every time she steps on the field something happens, which is what we need at the Olympics."

On what it is like play on a high school field vs. a state-of-the-art field in Hartford (her hometown)...

"It is great to be back here. I didn't ever know the last time we played here it was so long ago. It is great to be back in the state of Connecticut and obviously to play here for my family and friends. And we're in a new stadium. I'm not sure how many games have been played in the stadium yet, but it's exciting for us to be here and play in a stadium like this. We're playing a great team in China and I think the fans will get a great game before we head off to the Olympics."

On the structure of the Olympic tournament...
"Obviously the set up this year is a little bit different than the past Olympics seeing as we only had two groups the last Olympics, but we go into the Olympics taking care of business and whether we have two teams to play or three teams we have to get it done and that's our first goal, to get out of our group.  After the first round, only two teams get disqualified so we have a good chance to keep going on, so we have to take care of the first three games in our group."

On the preparation for the tournament compared to last year...
"For the World Cup we were playing in the WUSA, so we had the whole season prior to getting together the month before the World Cup started.  And this year we have the residency program again, which adds something different and I think the amount of time we get to spend together training and the off the field stuff bonds this team together even more. We had the first 3 months where we were travelling all over the world and then we came together in April. This team is focused and every day we spend out there we're working for each other and picking each other up or encouraging each other, and I think that's going to lead into a great Olympics for us. Sometimes when you think about residency you think, 'oh my gosh, I'm going to be gone for five months', but for me it's been great, a great opportunity to spend more time with Julie and Mia and Brandi in our house and it gets you focused on what your job is, and that?s pretty much to make this team successful and it?s been a good time."

On the other teams in the tournament and if they are different than the World Cup teams in 2003...

"We're focused right now at the three teams in our group.  I know we play China on Sunday.  That'll give us a good look to see where they're at.  I think they've pretty much  got a lot of new players on their team.  I know Germany has lost a couple of their players to retirement.  Sweden, I'm not sure about how many new players they have and how many returning.  For us we just played Australia, who is in our group, and they have a good team that's just going to work hard for every minute they're playing.  Greece, we haven't even seen play, or know much about.  And, Brazil, they're always very technical team that's very creative and crafty and can finish goals.  So, the first three teams we have, we know we're going to have our hands full and we have to take care of them one at a time."

On putting into perspective the last 17 years she has been with the Women's National Team...
"It's crazy.  It's hard to believe that it's been 17 years.  People ask, 'Can you summarize it?,' and you really can't because there's been so many great moments and so many great people are part of it.  All I can say is that it's been an amazing time, and one that I would never change.  It's too long, sometimes when you think about it, but while I'm sitting with Mia and Julie here, all the memories keep coming up when we talk about things and what we've been though.  We've done it together, no matter if it's been positive or negative."

On if he younger girls have a nickname for the veterans...
"They probably do but we don't know about it.  With this team, everything we do is all in fun.  I think young kids as a whole know you're old and they kind of get a kick out of it.  I'm not sure.  Once in a while, they'll be like, the old ladies, but nothing that we're aware of."

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