First Lady of U.S. soccer
Hamm dishes on Team USA, the new women's league
Posted: Friday January 18, 2008 11:59AM; Updated: Friday January 18, 2008 2:21PM
When the logo for Women's Professional Soccer -- the new top-flight league starting in 2009 -- was unveiled this week, the player silhouette in the middle was unmistakable.
It's Mia Hamm. (Jerry West now has some company as The Logo.)
But the grand dame of women's soccer is doing more these days than just posing for logos. The proud (and happily retired) mother of nine-month-old twins, Ava and Grace, Hamm is teaming up with her husband, Nomar Garciaparra, to host a celebrity soccer challenge at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., at 1 p.m. on Jan. 26.
All proceeds from the event (which features Hamm, Garciaparra, Landon Donovan, Kristine Lilly, Abby Wambach, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain and others) will benefit funds set up at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and donations from the Celebrity Soccer Challenge will benefit bone-marrow transplant patients and their families.
It's a subject that's close to Hamm's heart: Her brother, Garrett, died in 1997 from a bone-marrow disease.
Hamm rarely gives interviews anymore, but this week SI.com spoke to her about her event as well as her thoughts on the state of the U.S. women's national team, the Hope Solo World Cup controversy, the new women's league and Hamm's role on the committee that hired new coach Pia Sundhage.
SI.com: Tell me a little bit about your charity event.
Hamm: We're really excited about it. It was something that started in 1997 in Milwaukee and we're bringing it back here to the L.A. area. I'm so grateful and thrilled that Nomar wants to be a part of it. I think this is a great area for it.
To give you some brief history, it started in '97 with five families [in Milwaukee] that had brought me into their club to do a clinic for their girls' team. It was a week after I'd found out my brother had to have a bone-marrow transplant. Financially, we weren't sure if insurance was going to cover the procedure. The initial findings were that it was going to be hard to find him a full match, so all these things were happening at once. I went up there with some leaflets and a pickle jar basically begging people for money and giving them information about getting registered in the National Bone Marrow Registry.
Two weeks later, I got a call from them saying we have an idea to help raise more money for your brother and hopefully get the word out there. So we held an indoor game in Milwaukee with women's national-team players against an all-star team of college seniors from the Milwaukee-Chicago area. We did that for four or five years, but with the league [WUSA] and national-team commitments the game kind of went away.
So last year, we got to talking about how we'd love to bring the game back. It was called the Garrett Game before in honor of my brother, and we thought L.A. would be a great area with the rich soccer tradition here and the celebrity aspect. We moved it outdoors to the Home Depot Center, and it's going to be half-field, small-sided 6-on-6. We've got a lot of great past and present players, both male and female, and some celebrities who are going to lace 'em up and have some fun and hopefully raise some money. Money is extremely important to these families, but so is awareness. There will be a booth set up doing bone-marrow typings to put them into the marrow bank, which to me is just as important if not more so than the money we raise.