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Remembering '99: Lori Chalupny

In 1999, I was 15 years old and had been playing soccer for a decade at that point in my life. As a kid and a teenager I was a complete soccer nut. I was playing on two select teams for my club JB Marine so at that point in my life, like today, soccer was just about everything to me.

Needless to say I was very into the 1999 World Cup here in the United States. For me it was the first real introduction to our national team. Yeah, I was aware of Mia Hamm but this was my first real exposure to all the players, and it was constant exposure, because I was watching it all the time.

My Dad and I watched as many games as we could and certainly watched all the U.S. games. My Dad was always pushing me to strive for the national team and he was happy that the World Cup games were on television and we were able to watch them together.

Mia Hamm was the player I always focused my attention. I liked how she took people on, her confidence and the explosiveness of her touches.

My Dad and I watched the final at the Rose Bowl from our living room in Crestwood, Missouri. It was just the two of us. I remember watching very intently. By the time the game reached the penalty kicks I had the nervous excitement you get. At the time I wasn’t even pondering how much it would mean for the game in our country if the U.S. won. I was just wrapped up in it. It never dawned on me at the time that that day would be a turning point for soccer.

You could see that the pride and patriotism from the crowd at the Rose Bowl and you got that sense coming through the television.

In retrospect it is the single greatest thing that happened for women’s soccer. Being in the U.S. and then ending in that manner I think we won over a lot of fans and turned a lot of casual fans on to the sport. The younger players like me saw how high the bar was set by that group of individuals. It a legacy we want to continue and our continuing with our success in the 2008 Olympic Games.

Lori Chalupny is a midfielder for the Saint Louis Athletica