I was a teenager... and I idolized the US Women's National Team. They were amazing players and people who were living a life that was hard to comprehend. Fortunately, I was also beginning to play on youth national teams and I slowly started to envision myself in their shoes.
Then the '99 World Cup happened and it completely changed my perspective on my future as a soccer player. I am an incentive based person so seeing their hard work pay off, literally and figuratively, was impactful beyond belief.
Watching them have the opportunity to play in front of over 90,000 fans was so inspiring. Watching them to win in PKs was even better. All players hate penalty kicks as a way to finish a game, but you cannot argue that it is fun and exciting to watch. The event and that game helped me realize that anything was possible for me.
But it was not just that game or event. The WUSA was born from the success of '99 World Cup and that league completely changed my life. For the first time ever, there was a professional soccer league for women. Girls could grow up playing the game they loved and dream of playing professionally. I now had the opportunity to give everything to becoming the best soccer player possible.
So in short, the '99 World Cup provided me the environment to create the career and life that I am fortunate enough to enjoy today. That team's teamwork, effort, and their willingness to bleed red, white, and blue set the stage for players like me.
The value system I have is unwavering and I pride myself on upholding the lessons I was taught during those few special weeks of the '99 World Cup. Not only did they change the lives of millions of girls hoping to play pro sports one day, but they changed mine.
A little girl from Rochester NY was able to dream big and it led to Olympic Gold medals and World Cups of my own.
Role models would be an understatement. The '99ers were pioneers and inspired generations to fill their shoes for years to come
'99ERS premieres on August 20th at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN as part of ESPN Films' and espnW's Nine for IX series.
This post is part of a blog series produced by The Huffington Post and ESPN, in conjuncture with the latter's 'Nine for IX' film series, which commemorates the 40th anniversary of Title IX. Title IX was a landmark legislative victory for justice that prohibited discrimination by gender in schools and sports. To see all the posts in the series, click here. To learn more about 'Nine for IX,' click here.