Very few people have lifted the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Trophy in a huge stadium in front of a massive crowd.
This list includes the 23 women on the USA’s historic 2019 Women’s World Cup championship team…and Sofia Cook.
The current U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team midfielder, rising UCLA sophomore and Huntington Beach, Calif. native was just three days short of her 16th birthday when she got to take part in the pregame ceremony for the USA’s first game back on domestic soil after winning the World Cup in France.
The match took place on Aug. 3, 2019, at the historic Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and Cook, coming off a fine performance in the 2018 Concacaf U-15 Girls' Championship to help the USA win the regional title at that age group, was selected to be a part of the pregame ceremony. Symbolizing the future of the USWNT, she would get to be on the field with current and former legends for a show that was packed full of pomp, circumstance, fireworks and all-around good vibes.
“I remember the night before the game I was telling my mom that was going to ask Carli Lloyd or Alex Morgan for their jersey, but I chickened out,” said Cook, who was then playing for the LA Galaxy Girls’ Academy. “I was thinking all night about what I was going to say, but once I got there, I was totally silent.”
Most 15-year-olds would be shy in that situation, especially if they were to walk on the field with some USWNT legends: 1999ers Mia Hamm, Joy Fawcett and Tisha Venturini and 2015er Lauren Holiday.
“In the moment, I was nervous and excited and overwhelmed, but it was a bit of a blur, to be honest,” said Cook. “But looking back at it now, it was amazing. I was not even a foot away from Carli Lloyd. I remember her kissing the World Cup trophy, and was like ‘yeah, I would have done the same thing.’ It was just a really special memory.”
As a freshman in 2022, she played in 24 games, scoring seven goals with four assists, and was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team while helping the Bruins win a dramatic NCAA title.
“It was the coolest experience,” she said. “Obviously we want to do it again, but when I leave college soccer, I won’t leave unfulfilled, no matter what happens from here. I just love my team, and that group was so special. We are all so close. Winning it with them made me so happy. When Mari[carmen Reyes] scored in overtime, I was just bawling. It’s something I’ll remember forever.”
Cook’s past accomplishments for the U.S. Youth National Teams and her fine season with the Bruins put her squarely on the radar for U.S. Under-20 WYNT head coach Tracey Kevins, but after attending the first camp of the cycle in January 2023, she sprained her foot in a spring game for UCLA. The injury ruled her out of the U-20 WYNT training camp in North Carolina in April, which basically served as a selection camp for the 2023 Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship team in the Dominican Republic.
“Yeah, it was not looking good for me, but Tracey called after the camp and by that time I was back playing, and my foot felt good, and she said, ‘well, we’d love to have you on the team,’” said Cook. “I was shocked, but she said I could make an impact on the team, so I just really appreciate that she saw enough in me as a player to name me to the qualifying roster."
In the Dominican Republic, she’s playing with a team of current and future college stars, including her UCLA teammate Ally Lemos, and she feels like this group has also bonded well through the special experience of getting to play for your country.
“Every time I’m called into a camp, especially these trips where you make a tournament roster, I’m proud of myself, but it’s even more awesome to wear the crest and play with such a great group of girls. Everyone is so positive and supportive, and the coaches really care about us as people and helping us grow as players,” she said. “The pre-camp was hard, it was hot in Florida, but it prepared us for this tournament and I’m just excited help our team however I can.”
The daughter of an Argentinean mother, Cook is a rare U.S. Women’s National Team player who speaks fluent Spanish – she’s formulating her plans to major in International Development Studies and minor in Spanish at UCLA – and one day would love to play professionally overseas, perhaps in Spain. For now, her goals are much shorter term: enjoy the soccer experiences she is afforded and the friendships she has forged with her teammates.
“I do want to play pro, and I think everyone’s dream is to play for the full National Team, but I’m still young and now I’m focusing on this qualifying tournament and trying to make it to the World Cup and then my college season,” said Cook.
But even though she’s dedicated to looking through the windshield and not at the rearview mirror when it comes to her soccer career, she sometimes takes a moment to think back to that late summer day at the Rose Bowl in 2019, even if she might need to watch some video to help her remember it all.
“I didn’t think I was going to meet Mia Hamm and all those players,” she said. “I look back at the video and see the players were talking to me, but honestly, I can’t remember what they said. I’m just glad I have some photos!”
At home, she also has U.S. Women’s National Team jersey from that day, gifted to her and signed by those legends. And that’s a pretty cool memory.