Go For the Goal
“I am happy that the young girls have a lot more choices these days and an opportunity to feel better about themselves. If this encourages one girl to go out there, and not necessarily try soccer, but just do something she was nervous about doing or achieve something that she wasn't sure she could do, it's a wonderful feeling. Whether it's stopping to say hello or signing an autograph or scoring a memorable goal for them, it's worth it.” Mia Hamm
American female soccer player Mia Hamm has been considered by many as the best woman to ever play the sport. As a forward for the U.S. national team, she won two career Olympic gold medals (1996, 2004) and led her team to two FIFA World Cup Championships (1991 and 1999). Hamm retired in 2004 at age 32.
One of the best-known women athletes in the world, Hamm was named the women's FIFA World Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002 and chosen as one of FiFA's “125 Greatest Living Soccer Players” in 2004. In addition, she was elected ESPY's “Female Athlete of the Year” and “Soccer Player of the Year” in 1999 and Soccer USA's “Female Athlete of the Year” five times (1994 to 1998). In 1997, People Magazine named Hamm one of the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World.
On March 1, 2008, Hamm was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
Hamm wrote the book “Go For the Goal: A Champion's Guide to Winning in Soccer and Life,” which was published by Harper Collins in 1999. She said, “Like everything else in life where I have achieved a measure of success, my book is a product of a team effort from start to finish.”
Hamm has been married twice. She and her current husband, baseball star Nomar Garciaparra, have twin daughters named Grace Isabella and Ava Caroline (born in 2007).
Her adoptive brother Garrett, who was diagnosed with a bone marrow disease, died in 1997. Two years after his death, she established the Mia Hamm Foundation, whose purposes include raising funds for bone marrow research and helping women's sports programs.
Childhood and Family:
Born Mariel Margret Hamm on March 17, 1972, in Selma, Alabama, Mia Hamm was partially clubfooted and wore casts on her feet when she was a baby to help correct the problem. A daughter of an Air Force pilot and a ballet dancer, Mia and her five siblings were raised in various bases throughout the globe due to her father's job. It was while living in Italy that she became interested in soccer. The Hamms settled in Wichita Falls, Texas, when Mia was five years old. Shortly thereafter, the active girl played soccer for her first team.
Mia attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She graduated in 1994 with a degree in Political Science. She also played soccer for the university's team Tar Heels. Upon graduating, she volunteered as an assistant coach.
On December 17, 1994, Mia married her college sweetheart Christian Corry. She divorced her Marine Corps pilot/husband in 2002. Mia found a new love in fellow professional athlete Nomar Garciaparra, whom she married on November 22, 2003, in a private ceremony in Goleta, California. The couple had twin girls, Ava Caroline and Grace Isabella, in March 2007.
“Forwards shouldn't just hang around the midfield line calling for the ball. I take great pride in tracking back on defense whenever I can.” Mia Hamm
Learning how to play soccer while in Italy, Army brat Mia Hamm joined her first team at age five after her family's relocation to Texas. By age 15, she had earned a spot on the U.S. National Team. At the time, she created history for being the youngest player ever to play for the American Soccer Team.
Hamm played college soccer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During her time there, she and the Tar Heels won four NCAA National Championships in 1989, 1990, 1992, and 1993. She missed the 1991 event to participate in the FIFA Women's World Championship in China, in which she helped the U.S. women's team defeat the Norwegian team at the finals, where they won their first international trophy. At age 19, Hamm emerged as the youngest American woman player to win a World Cup championship.
Only loosing one in ninety five games she participated in, Hamm completed her college stint as the team's all-time leading scorer with 103 goals and 72 assists. She was named ACC Female Athlete of the Year in 1993 and 1994 and received All-American and Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year awards in her last three years at UNC.
After the 1991 FIFA Women's World Cup, Hamm again joined the U.S. women's soccer team for the 1995 FIFA World Cup in Sweden. Her team, however, finished third. She bounced back the following year at the 1996 Summer Olympic in Atlanta, where she helped the U.S. pick up the gold medal.
Hamm further proved she was a winner in the 1999 Women's World Cup in the United States. Along with her team, she successfully beat China and brought home their second World Cup. Also that year, Hamm broke the all-time international goal record with her 108th goal in a game against Brazil in Orlando, Florida.
Mia played in the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, where she and her team won a silver medal. She went on to play for the Washington Freedom at the 2003 WUSA Founder's Cup and ended up winning the title. Also in 2003, Hamm joined the U.S. National Team to compete at the FIFA Women's World Cup, where the U.S. placed third after the winner Germany and the runner up Sweden.
Hamm could next be seen at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, where she helped lead Team U.S. to a gold medal. Shortly thereafter, she retired from soccer. Hamm made her last performance at the 2004 Fan Celebration Tour to mark the U.S.'s Women's National team's triumph at the 2004 Olympics. In the game against Mexico at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, on December 8, 2004, the U.S. team won 5-0.
Olympic Gold: 2004
FIFA World Cup Third Place: 2003
WUSA Founder's Cup Champion: 2003
Olympic Silver: 2000
FIFA World Cup Champion: 1999
ESPY: Female Athlete of the Year and Soccer Player of the Year, 1999
Olympic Gold: 1996
FIFA World Cup Third Place: 1995
ACC Female Athlete of the Year: 1993, 1994
FIFA World Cup Champion: 1991
NCAA National Champion: 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993