Suddenly, aggressive, competitive women had a place to play. "I grew up always good at sports, but being a girl, I was never allowed to feel as good about it as the guys were," Hamm says. "My toughness wasn't celebrated. But then I came here, and it was O.K. to want to be the best. I loved that I didn't have to apologize for the fact that I got upset for missing a goal."
Says Parlow, "Girls don't like to compete. We want to be friends. It's hard to create that atmosphere where conflict and competition are O.K. That's what Anson has created for us."
That Dorrance has also created passionate disciples distresses critics such as Duffy, who believe mat his generalizations are just window-dressing. North Carolina doesn't win "because Anson, as he said after one national championship, knows 'how women tick,' " says Duffy. "It's because he has the best athletes. He could attribute his success to eating cream cheese for lunch, and all these parents and coaches would go out and buy cream cheese."
But not all of Dorrance's supporters follow him blindly. Heinrichs, who believes Dorrance "respects" and "empowers" his players, says, "Anson cultivates an environment where the players become dependent on him. I was the epitome of that when I was at Carolina. I got convinced that he was the only one who could coach me. It's a drug that you're on. Anson is a very powerful man, and charismatic—and you're under his spell. You fall out of that spell when maturity sets in, when you get out in the world, where the answers aren't spoon-fed to you."
Keller and Jennings fell out sooner. Jennings says she became bothered when, in the fall of 1996, Dorrance pressured her to lend him that $400. She complained to her father when the loan wasn't repaid immediately, and he in turn pressured Dorrance to return the money. Craig Jennings believes Dorrance never forgave Melissa for the incident—and then cut her from the team in retaliation last May.
As for Keller, the suit alleges that in 1994 Dorrance began placing "unwanted and uninvited telephone calls to [her] for the purpose of monitoring her personal activities." In October 1996, Keller alleges, Dorrance "coerced" her into meeting him in "a secluded area" and "made an uninvited sexual advance."
Falk, Parlow, Roberts and Lorrie Fair, all teammates of Keller's at the end of her Carolina career, say they never heard her complain of such behavior. "That's what puzzles me most," says Fair. "If someone was sexually harassing me, I wouldn't be around him. I wouldn't come around during alumni weekends, I wouldn't participate in things he does, and I would tell somebody."
Keller also accuses Dorrance of abusing his authority in an unrelated incident involving an injury to her left heel. The suit claims he denied her repeated requests for custom soccer shoes "in an effort to obtain leverage in his ongoing contract negotiations with Nike for sponsorship of the women's soccer program at UNC." Keller says she took so long to recover from the injury that she couldn't play in the '96 Olympics, thus losing out on a gold medal.
Keller's shoe-related charge prompts those close to Dorrance to wonder whether the suit has less to do with sexual harassment than with disappointment. Her lawyer, Louis Varchetto, replies that the shoe matter "addresses the creation of an uncomfortable environment." In other words, the women aren't only accusing Dorrance of sexual impropriety. They are also accusing him of creating a climate in which women feel not strong and connected but rather offended and controlled.
And they want to see it end. Asked how determined she is to see this lawsuit through, to see Dorrance resign and never coach again, Keller laughs and says, "Five hundred percent. Is that enough?"