March 26, 2012

Glory Road: Mia Hamm

Scott Evans talks to the soccer star.

Scott: She has scored more international goals than any other soccer player. And in today’s Glory Road, Mia Hamm tells us why it takes more than just talent to be a top athlete.

It was a goal heard around the world. The winning goal in the first ever women’s World Cup championship in 1991. Team USA beat Norway by one point, and the forward on team USA was Mia Hamm, the youngest American woman to win a World Cup. She was only 19.

How did your passion for sports begin?

Hamm: Man! From a very young age, I participated in a lot of different sports and just seemed to — I don’t know — love it!

Scott: That love of soccer also led her to another World Cup championship. And in 1996, she made history again, playing on the first ever Olympic women’s soccer team. Throughout her Olympic career, she would win three gold medals, two of them gold.

Hamm: It was awesome because I grew up watching the Olympic games and wanted to be a part of it no matter what. So it was like, ‘oh my gosh all your dreams are coming true.’ And then to do it on your home soil where all your friends could be there was huge.

Scott: What was it like to put that gold medal over your head? Was it emotional?

Hamm: Oh yeah. You just wanted to stand there forever. Yeah, it’s not the people cheering for you. It’s the, ‘oh my gosh, everything we had worked … and we did this together. It was amazing!

Scott: That pursuit for the gold started back when she was a kid.

Now, you played on the boy’s team.

Hamm: Yeah, yeah. My teammates were cool with it. I mean, they just wanted to win. But it was the other players and their parents. I just remember going into this camp with all these other really talented young girls and just going, ‘man, I’m not weird or different.’

Scott: As Mia got older, she had to ask herself if she was willing to put in the hard work.

Hamm: I want to say my junior year in college, I was like, ‘you’re either gonna do this and be the player you think you can be or you need to stop.’ I started really focusing on my fitness and working through that pain — it becoming not just something I did, but a craft that I studied.

Scott: It is this message Mia is trying to spread to other young people.

We caught up with her at an event for Her World month in New York. Close to 300 high school girls gathered to hear from strong women like Mia.

Milka: It’s really special to me. Actually, our team went through a really big defeat where we didn’t do that well. So it’s nice to have somebody come and empower you and tell you something positive. So you can keep on going.

Scott: Mia travels the country empowering youth to persevere and push through obstacles they may face. And students like these are getting the message.

Pauline: How to go to college and set career goals. How to really be true to yourself and achieve what you want to. And that you can be the best. You can be just like Mia Hamm has done.

Hamm: It’s worth it. If you’re passionate about it, it’s so worth the investment. And don’t let anything stop you.

Scott: Words from a champion that we could all live by.

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