A Star on and off the Field
Mia Hamm is widely recognized as the world's best all-around women's soccer player. In Atlanta at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games she proved it by leading her team to a gold medal in front of 80,000 screaming fans in Athens, Georgia. “Never in history had so many spectators come out to watch a women's sporting event. The Games highlighted female athletes like no other time in modern history and Mia emerged as one of the Game's true examples for people of all ages who have a dream and go for it.” The 1999 Women's World Cup, where the USA took home the championship in front of 40 million viewers in this country alone, sold over 650,000 tickets, including sellouts at Giants Stadium and the Rose Bowl. There is no stopping women's soccer and Mia's tremendous impact, both on and off the field.
Not only was she influential on the soccer field but because of her skill she was also a role model to many young women. For this reason I think she should be given the honorary degree award from the University of Southern California. As stated specifically by the University of Southern California, the purpose of the honorary degree is to " honor individuals who have distinguished themselves through extraordinary achievements,” and “made outstanding contributions to the…communities of which they are a part,” as well as “elevate the university in the eyes of the world by honoring individuals who are widely known and highly regarded for achievements in their respective fields”. Mia has contributed in many ways to youth soccer team, women’s breast cancer organizations, and bone marrow transplant foundation. She has been a successful woman in the hearts of others.
Having played collegiately at UNC and leading her team to four consecutive NCAA championships, she inherited the nickname "Jordan" (after a basketball player at NC named Michael!) because of her athletic ability on the field and sportsmanship, determination and commitment off it. “Her awards and accomplishments only tell part of the story of this remarkable athlete; she gives much of her precious free time to charitable causes and strives, in anything she does, to promote women's athletics, the sport of soccer, and a feeling of confidence and sense of purpose in young people” (male or female).
Mia was the youngest player ever to play for our National Team at age 15 and has been a member ever since (the team won the World Championships in 1991, Mia's second time on the team). “Her records in appearances and goals, MVP awards and overall performance put her at the top of the sport as she looks forward to the 2000 Olympics, she has been US Soccer's Female Athlete of the year for five consecutive years. As Phil Knight, Chairman of Nike says ‘I think we've had three athletes who just played at a level that added a new dimension to their games. That's been Michael Jordan, in basketball, and in some ways Mia Hamm in women's soccer and Tiger Woods in golf." In April of 1999, Nike named the largest building on its corporate campus after Mia.
Hamm has come a long way to become where she is right now. She grew up playing soccer on some girl teams but mostly played with the boy teams. That also helped her get her aggression and passion for the game. It really helped her become the best women's soccer player of all time. But soccer is not the only interest in Hamm's life. She also enjoys playing golf, reading, and cooking.
Having seen the enormous support her and her teammates received at the '96 Games, “Mia hopes to pioneer new initiatives, which further promote the sport of soccer and women in sports.” Poised, articulate and honest, Mia is a pioneer in her sport and a role model for athletes and fans alike who believe in equal opportunity, Title IX legislation, and the love of the game.
Hamm and the rest of the Women's National Soccer Team really make anyone want to sit down and watch the game. They are all very talented players and should be very proud of the influences they are to younger athletes. Mia Hamm didn't let anything get in her way to strive for the gold. Her brother Garrett's death really made her work harder, and with the help of her teammates she pushed through it. Garrett helped her want to win and get trophies for herself. She also established the Mia Hamm Foundation to help other people who, like Garrett, have bone marrow diseases. Mia Hamm has been my hero for most of my life, which makes me want to follow my dreams like she followed hers.
Throughout Mia Hamm’s career, not only was she the greatest soccer player of her time, s was also a role model to many younger women and children. Many women and young children looked up to her because of the great things she accomplished at such an early age. At the age of sixteen, she was playing on a team with women almost twice her age. Not only did she have to physically be capable of doing this, but also playing on the nationalhe team demanded a maturity that isn’t required from most sixteen year olds. At this age, young women are more concerned about whom they are going to prom with and what time their curfew is. Mia on the other hand, was living on her own and traveling to different countries to represent her own country.
Mia Hamm is important to all girls because she is a role model to them. She takes time to sign autographs and take pictures. She is important to me because she tries her hardest during games, and practices with perseverance. She makes people feel like they are a million dollars and she puts a smile on every ones face. She is the best woman soccer player alive today. Pele (a former soccer player from Brazil that was considered the most talented player during his time) said, “When I was playing, they said soccer was a man’s world and that women should remain on the sidelines. All one can say is, glad I never have to go up against Mia Hamm!” She made many opponents feel this way because of her aggressiveness and fast ball skills, she was an amazing threat.
Mia's life experiences include growing up as the daughter of a U. S. Air force colonel, a military fighter pilot. Her mother was a ballet dancer. Bill and Stephanie Hamm had six children, including Mia who was born in Selma, Alabama. “As a military family they moved quite a bit, including time in California, Texas, Virginia and Italy. Her brothers and sisters became her soccer team at about age seven, and may have given her the sense of persistence that is needed to really achieve in any field.” Mia was intensely competitive and loved to play games. As much as she loved to play and win, she hated losing with a passion. She hated it so much that she'd just quit if the game was not going her way. “She claims that she always had it in mind that she could just walk away at any point in the game.” However, her siblings had enough of that approach pretty quickly and refused to play with her unless she stuck it out no matter what. She has not quit since.
Mia Hamm had talent and a great desire to win, but another factor may have played an important role in her rise as an athlete. She was among the first generation to grow up with equal emphasis placed on boys and girls sports. Before 1972, boy's sports were predominant in high school and college. Football, basketball, track and field, baseball and most others were geared toward young men developing their talents, playing competitively with other schools and gaining scholarships to college. An article states,“Girl's sports were barely supported. Girls were just one percent of all high school athletes and received just two percent of college athletic budgets.”
Mia Hamm has done so much more than score goals and win world titles; she has dramatically increased the popularity of women's soccer in the United States and inspired thousands of kids to play the game. She has changed many women’s lives today, for example she has created a website and non-profit organization called the MiaFoundation. Her goals for this organization are: “The Mia Hamm Foundation is a reflection of my life experiences. I created this foundation to benefit important issues that have directly affected me throughout my life. The foundation is focused on providing support for two important causes: raising funds and awareness for bone marrow transplant patients and continuing the growth in opportunities for young women in sports.”
Mia Hamm would be a great nominee for the University of Southern California honorary degree award because of what she has contributed as an athlete and women. She is respected greatly and well known around the world not only for her hard work as a soccer player but also what she has done off the field. As it is stated in the USC website for the purpose of the honorary degree, Hamm fulfills all the qualities that are stated above. She contributes to society greatly and has achived many things that no other individual has. This is why Mia Hamm should awared the University of Southern California honorary degree.