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My sports origin story

Updated: Jan 18

Hi friends,

What’s your sports origin story? You know, the moment or person that started your fandom and made you realize that you wanted to be involved in sports. For me, it was the 1999 Women’s World Cup and it was all thanks to my dad. I was five years old and had just started playing soccer, but up until that point I’d really only ever watched football. See, I was born a Notre Dame football fan and watched the Irish and the Philadelphia Eagles for as long as I could remember. But my first television exposure to the sport that I loved to play came from that World Cup.

After fighting for their right to play in major stadiums, such as the Rose Bowl, the U.S. women also earned mainstream media coverage for the first time. Of course, at five years old I wouldn’t have even known about it had it not been for my dad. He followed the team’s World Cup matches, introducing me to USWNT legends Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Kristine Lilly, Michelle Akers, and my all-time favorite athlete, Brandi Chastain.

Specifically, the World Cup final is what made me want to be an athlete and ultimately work in sports. I was on the edge of my seat for all 120 scoreless minutes of regulation and overtime, watching nervously as Akers had to be subbed off after being inadvertently punched in the head by Briana Scurry and screaming excitedly when Lilly made that game-saving header off the line. During penalties, I sat in awe as the Americans made their first four kicks. And then, I witnessed arguably the greatest moment in soccer history. Brandi Chastain stepped up to the spot, facing a Chinese goalie, Gao Hong, who had saved one of her penalties earlier in the year. With that in mind, she was asked to take the kick with her non-dominant left foot. Can you imagine? I want to throw up just watching PKs. Imagine being asked to take the fifth kick in the World Cup final in front of 90,000 fans plus a global television audience with your non-dominant foot. That’s a hard pass from me.

Of course, we all know she made it and the infamous sports bra celebration that ensued. Afterwards, I cut out every newspaper and magazine clipping I could find on the team, pinning then to the bulletin board in my room. I even laminated the cover of TIME magazine (only after writing my name in permanent marker in huge, five-year-old lettering across the front, lol). My dad also taped the game and we rewatched it (all 120 scoreless minutes and penalties) over and over again.

That moment was huge for women’s soccer and for me personally. I knew I wanted to be part of that. Not just playing soccer, but working in the industry. Despite watching from my living room in Pennsylvania, I had seen the passion and felt the energy from the Rose Bowl. I began telling everyone that I was going to work in sports and lucky for me, my parents fully supported that dream.

While being part of this industry has come with its fair share of challenges, I have remained a fan through it all. In November 2023, Sam and I spoke on a panel at the NWSL Championship Game and had the chance to attend the match. Sitting in the stands during that thrilling game, I felt like that five-year-old again, in awe of the athletes, the atmosphere, and the sport that I’d fallen in love with years ago.

So what’s your sport’s origin story? When did you know that this industry was for you? We’d love to hear! And until next time, remember, you’re awesome and you belong here.

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