Julie Foudy, center, a former captain of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team, autographs a mini soccer ball at the 6th Annual Bearcats Celebrating Women’s Athletics Luncheon and Auction at the Events Center on Feb. 7.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Soccer great salutes female student-athletesTweet
The lessons female athletes learn on a daily basis will stay with them for the rest of their lives, soccer great Julie Foudy told the Binghamton University community.
“I can’t say enough about what you are doing for women and all of the young girls in the community,” Foudy said to more than 540 guests at the 6th Annual Bearcats Celebrating Women’s Athletics Luncheon and Auction at the Events Center on Feb. 7. “You are not only impacting this generation, you are impacting so many generations to come in a positive way. … You are building confident, strong young women and I thank you for that.”
Foudy, a 17-year member of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team who competed in four World Cups and three Olympics, was the guest speaker at the luncheon. All proceeds from the event benefited the BUAC Women’s Scholarship Fund. Other speakers included Interim President C. Peter Magrath, Interim Director of Athletics Jim Norris and senior swimmer Amanda Ciccone.
Foudy said that the most memorable moments from her career were not the Olympic championships, World Cup championships or even individual accolades: The memorable moments came from being part of a team.
“I was surrounded by these amazing women who were not only great athletes but amazing human beings,” she said. “I learned so much about life by playing with these women and playing sports.”
Foudy said she learned that “leadership comes in so many styles” and used three famous teammates as examples.
Mia Hamm, considered by many to be the greatest female soccer player ever, was a leader “in quiet moments,” Foudy said.
“Mia wasn’t blessed with great vocal chords,” she said. “She wasn’t going to be a ra-ra vocal leader. The thing I learned about Mia that I loved was that at halftime walking off the field she would grab Abby Wambach and say, ‘This is what I love about what you’re doing, but here’s something else you can do.’ Her leadership was different, but effective.”
Like Foudy, Joy Fawcett spent 17 years on the national team. She was “painfully shy” for the first 10 years, Foudy said, until becoming a co-captain in 2000.
“Joy didn’t speak much, but when she did she had incredible insight to give,” Foudy said. “She commanded a presence when she spoke.”
Brandi Chastain, best remembered for scoring the winning penalty kick in the 1999 World Cup, was the opposite of Hamm and Fawcett, Foudy said. Chastain was an “Energizer bunny” who was called called “Hollywood” by teammates because she had a contagious energy and loved the spotlight.
“It was a totally different style from Joy and Mia,” Foudy said. “It was so effective because people wanted to be around her on the field.”
The leadership methods of her teammates taught Foudy that “you have to stay true to what your style is,” she said.
“It is so important for young girls to learn because so often you get caught in the trap of ‘I want to be like her,’” she said. “It’s about figuring out your talent and staying true to that. When people want to follow a leader, they want to follow someone who is genuine.”
Another lesson Foudy emphasized was how to work within a team.
“This is one of the greatest things sports can teach because there are so many opportunities on a daily basis when I come across something and can look back and say ‘I’ve done that before,’” she said.
Foudy, now an analyst for ABC/ESPN and the NBC Olympics, convinced ESPN to let her co-host the morning show “First Take.” But on her first telecast, the teleprompter broke and she had to rely on a script just handed to her.
“The athletic side of me sprang into action,” she said. “You can either panic or you can laugh and roll with it. That is a skill set I learned from being an athlete.”
Foudy also provided a few light-hearted moments during her talk, singing “Nobody messes with the Green Machine” in honor of her childhood team. She also poked fun at Chastain, who tore off her jersey and showed her sports bra after scoring the winning World Cup kick.
“I remember saying to her, ‘If you’re going to take your shirt off, you might want to work out a little bit before you do that,’” Foudy said to laughter from the audience.
Prior to Foudy’s talk, Norris highlighted some of the Bearcat accomplishments on and off the courts. In the classroom, women’s teams compiled a 3.18 GPA in the fall and six female student-athletes earned a 4.0 GPA. The women’s softball team had the eighth-highest GPA last year among all Division 1 softball programs, he said.
“We have a lot to celebrate in terms of women’s sports at Binghamton University,” Norris said. “Our staff, coaches and student-athletes work hard to positively impact our department, university and community and they do so in stellar fashion.”