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A Role Model

Written by: Lydia Scrofani

When I think about role models, my childhood filled with Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, and Kristine Lilly. The US Women’s Soccer National Team was just starting to make headlines leading up to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA. Even prior to those days, I remember having a poster of Carin Gabarra, sponsored by Diadora, taped on my bedroom wall. I wanted to wear #12 because of her jersey number. Back then you rarely, if ever, saw women’s soccer on television. If you were lucky enough to attend a college game, you might get a chance to see some of the National Team players competing. I had a dream to one day play for the US Women’s National Team or aspire to play Division I soccer. Unfortunately, the National Team never panned out, but I did get a chance to play Division I Soccer for the University of South Carolina (USC) and played semi-pro for the W-League Boston Renegades.

If you were to ask me about one of my favorite moments at USC, I would tell you it was signing autographs for little girls after our games. The opportunity to interact with the next generation of athletes was so fun and such a highlight of my career.

In Williamsburg, we have the opportunity to see two universities with female college athletes. The College of William & Mary plays Division I sports and we can bring GSA girls to meet and greet with soccer players, volleyball players, basketball players and more. Also, 20 minutes away, is Christopher Newport University who competes in Division III athletics. One could go a little further east and see Hampton University (Division I) or west to University of Richmond (Division I) among many others. To show GSA confident, successful female athletes is so important to help educate and inspire the next generation. The GSA girls need to see women competing and showcasing their strong, resilient, and impressive talents.

The role of the W&M athlete, W&M Athletic Department, CNU athlete and CNU Athletic Department is just as crucial to achieve success. They must engage and support little girls who come to their games, who buy their tickets, who want their autographs; furthermore, coaches must see that despite a loss or the heavy burden of the season, the little girls are their future.

If you watch any documentary about the US Women’s Soccer National Team’s rise to stardom, the players talk about the hurdles they faced getting support from the 1999 Women’s World Cup Committee to host games at the 90,000-person capacity Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. If you were to ask HOW they achieved success, they would tell you it was because they went on the road and met with little girls all over the nation. National Team players would run clinics, sign autographs, and take pictures with as many girls as possible to gather their support. They succeeded with 90,000 fans and won the World Cup in 1999. They created an environment showing girls they can be strong, confident and successful women.

The “role model” concept must work both ways. I will keep bringing GSA girls to women’s sporting events, but the colleges and professional organizations must also embrace these little girls. The foundation of a player starts with inspiration.

“Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who have pushed you is a little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back…play for her.”

-Mia Hamm

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