U.S. WNT Flashback - 20th Anniversary of First-Ever Match: Tucka Healy
Tucka Healy was a self-described “overachiever.” Not a fast player, but an opportunistic one, she was one of the top forwards in college during her day, and truth be told, just a little bit mean. She made one Final Four with the California Golden Bears, but lost to North Carolina (like everyone else in those days). She recalls that the 1984 clash with the Tar Heels featured more than 70 fouls between both teams. Healy actually played five seasons of college soccer, the first under the old AIAW, then four seasons after the NCAA sanctioned women’s soccer. She says that the many games on the rock hard Astroturf on which the Bears played has not affected her too much. She still plays in at least two tournaments a year and is a two-time Over-40 National champion with the San Francisco Vikings.
More on the first-ever U.S. WNT match: OOOSA! | First Goal | Players Reflect
Career caps/Goals: 3/0
National Team Career: 1985
Hometown: Palo Alto, California
Position played in first match: Forward
College: California (1981-1985)
Last WNT game: August 24, 1985, vs. Denmark (0-1 Loss)
What she’s doing now: Works for Google as an Enterprise Sales Manager in Mountain View, California.
WNT Career Highlight: “It was a brief minute, but the whole thing was great. I don’t think I can pick out any one thing.”
Memories of the first game: “I remember that the Italians tackled from behind so hard. There was lots of pulling of shirts and things that we weren’t used to. There were lots of cleats up. Soccer in the United States was always hard and physical, but they were a little sharper and it was not always in the context of the game.”
“I remember (Jesolo) was a beach town, so we all liked that. (The tournament) actually featured the first game between an Italian team and an English team since (the Heysel disaster at the 1985 European Cup Final between Liverpool and Juventus), so there was kind of a sense of being part of a bigger soccer community. We were playing in a global soccer environment for the first time, which was definitely a new experience.”
Thoughts on how women’s soccer has grown: “I think it’s exciting to watch it grow having been a part of the early beginnings, but there are pluses and minuses for everything. There’s so much opportunity now and it trips me out that people make their living coaching women’s soccer because so many people who coached me did it all for free and spent so much time doing it. The opportunity to play so much and travel and be a part of these great college programs is awesome. I won’t say I am envious, because you lose something in that, and we just had a lot of fun.”
“It was the personalities that drove us back then. When I was in college the first couple of years, we played for our own trips. On my club team, the California Tremors, if someone couldn’t afford it, we all pitched in and paid for them. The individuals made such a difference. It wasn’t so consuming and competitive that you couldn’t do other things as well. I think of how organized it is, and it’s fantastic, but I’m not sad that I got to play when I did because we had a lot of fun. The chance to play year round for kids is great, but the pressure to play year around is also great. We didn’t have that pressure so people were doing it because we loved it. There was no other reason to do it. It was just pure joy. It wasn’t something we expected, it was a great thing that happened to us.”
Thoughts on the 1999 Women’s World Cup: “I watched on TV. It was pretty awesome to watch. To see so many people, I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like. The most entertaining part of it was listening to the crowd. The crowd definitely sounded different than any other sports crowd because of the high-pitched screaming from all the girls. I played on my club team with Brandi (Chastain), Joy (Fawcett) and Michelle (Akers), so I had the opportunity to play with some of the older players that were still on the team. It was neat to see them, there was definitely a connection, and to see how things were now.”