Letter to USWNT from Carol Heiss Jenkins

2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Champions
2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Champions

To the members of the U.S. Women’s National Team,

It’s hard to believe it’s been 55 years since I was riding in a convertible down the Canyon of Heroes, the same parade route all of you will be riding along on Friday. I was 20 years old, having just won an Olympic gold medal in figure skating, and like yours, my life was a whirlwind, flying by like the ticker tape in the sky.  It was a magical day, and I remember looking up at all of these people and all of these tall buildings. It was a marvelous scene that I have never forgotten. 

I am so proud that my hometown of New York will be honoring you women the same way. Your victory in the World Cup captivated all of us Americans. I made sure I tuned in right from the start, and I am so glad I didn’t miss any of the goals, including all three of the ones scored by Carli Lloyd. All of you put on a wonderful display of athleticism, sportsmanship and spirit, and you all made us so proud. 

I had no idea that I was the last woman athlete to be honored with a ticker-tape parade until reporters started contacting me about it this week. It took a long time to honor other women athletes but I am glad you are the women who will have that honor. To win a third World Cup for the United States was no easy task. Having competed at the Olympic and World level, I understand the enormous pressures you faced and know what an incredible feeling it is to perform well under those circumstances and with so many people watching.

It is wonderful to see so many young women involved in sports today, and I think your “SheBelieves” campaign has helped ignite this passion and has instigated this sentiment that anything is possible in a whole new generation of young girls.

If you believe in something, write it down, because if you believe it, then it becomes a goal. Young girls have to have dreams and believe in those dreams in order to make them happen. I have two granddaughters who play soccer, one of whom earned a four-year soccer scholarship at Brevard College in North Carolina. Your efforts in the World Cup will inspire young women to keep their athletic dreams alive.

I wish I could be in New York to celebrate with all of you. Not a lot keeps me down but I just underwent hip surgery last month, and this is one time I have to listen to my doctors and stay put. But I will be watching the parade on TV from my home in Cleveland, and I will be cheering for all of you. This team will be remembered for many years to come.

Enjoy the moment. Look up at the buildings and the people above. The cheering fans should make you realize your accomplishment transcends just a score in a soccer game. Take it all in, as it goes by fast. This moment in time is very well-deserved, and I hope your day is as magical as the one I enjoyed back in 1960.

Carol Heiss Jenkins