I began playing soccer in a time where Mia Hamm was quickly becoming household name and the U.S. Women’s National Team was well on their way to earning international recognition as a one of the most premier programs in the world. The success of the WNT led to a boom in popularity for the sport. The term ‘soccer mom’ was practically synonymous to the word ‘mom’ because practically everybody’s kid seemed to be playing soccer. Soccer was everywhere and girls’ soccer, in particular, was becoming more and more mainstream.
Every time the WNT came to Southern California I would be there, along with literally thousands of other little girls cheering and crying when they watch their heroes walk out on to the pitch. We all dreamed of becoming the next Hamm, Foudy, or Scurry.
Now here I am 17 years later; I almost finished with my college eligibility and as of right now my dreams of making the WNT are pretty much nonexistent. While my dreams of competing at the international level may have been stifled, a girl that I grew up playing against is currently preparing for the Beijing Olympics.
Amy Rodriguez was always a ball of energy; I remember my coaches instructing the defenders on my team how to mark her. Her speed alone made the feat practically impossible, and when you combined it with her technical skill and remarkable ability to make a connection with the net she was unstoppable.
For the past three years Rodriguez has been attending the University of Southern California. At USC she has had a tremendous career. This past season Rodriguez had 10 goals, three assists and three game-winners during USC’s NCAA championship drive. These points elevated her to rank No. 6 all-time in career points (59), No. 6 in career goals (23) and No. 4 in career game-winning goals (9) at USC.
Rodriguez has played and scored in several of the CONCACAF tournament games, which were held as the Olympic qualifiers. The U.S. won the tournament and received the top seed for the Beijing Olympics. Now they are scheduled to play Norway, Japan and New Zealand in the first round.
In August I will be watching and cheering for the WNT as they compete for Olympic gold. My heart will be with all of them, but I will be rooting for Amy in particular. She is living proof that little girls can grow up and be just like Mia Hamm. Maybe one day little girls will grow up dreaming about being the next A-Rod, as her teammates like to call her.