During the 1999 World Cup, I was your typical soccer obsessed 13-year-old living in Clifton, New Jersey. I was so thrilled that the 1999 Women’s World Cup was going to be hosted in the United States and top of that the opening game was going to be in my backyard. The opening game was played in Giants Stadium, which was about ten minutes from my house, and if all that wasn’t enough to get a 13-year-old excited, the boy band *NSYNC was the opening act.
Going to the opening game was a week-long extravaganza for me and my two best friends, Kristin and Allie. We had to make sure that we looked perfect for the game. We made T-shirts that spelled out “MIA” on the front and “USA” on the back. We put our hair in pigtails and colored our faces. We planned out every detail so that someone would notice us.
When we got there we found our seats only to be about ten rows up from the field. I can remember having my camera flashing non-stop as soon as I got there. We had to make sure that we got pictures of each player as well as each member of *NSYNC. During the opening act tons of confetti shot out of cannons and performers sang all of their songs. After the performers the teams walked out on the field, and it was so crazy to actually be there and see it all happen first hand.
I loved every player on the Women’s National Team but I would have to say at that time my favorite player was a toss up between Michelle Akers or Kristine Lilly. The game was very exciting; the US won the opening game against Denmark 3-0. I was excited to be a part of the opening game and from then on I followed every game that they played. I made sure that I was glued to the television when the next game was played. I had posters, every player’s trading card and even a cereal box featuring the team in my room.
I remember watching the final in a hotel room because I was at a soccer tournament. My parents and I all watched so closely. I don’t think I could even watch the penalty kicks as they came on. I closed my eyes and had my parents relay the message. When the last kick was taken and the U.S. won I was so excited I was jumping from bed to bed with joy. I couldn’t celebrate too much though because I had to hurry out the door to go play our next game.
The women of the 1999 World Cup were such great role models for all young players. It made me want to aspire to get to the highest level. I could not be more grateful to have players and women like them to look up to while growing up.
Nikki Krzysik is a defender for the Chicago Red Stars.