While the U.S. squad should remain largely intact, Akers hasn't decided whether she will retire or play for one more gold medal, and she wasn't inclined to think about it last Saturday night as she shuffled onto the veranda of the Pasadena RitzCarlton for the team's celebration party. She looked typically drained. Her face was wan and discolored with pale blotches, and she wore a butterfly bandage on the crook of each arm where the IV's had left their marks. She was smiling, though, cradling a nonalcoholic beer and speaking with her parents, Bob and Sue, and with 1991 World Cup teammate Carin Gabarra. As if on cue, Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive came over the loudspeakers.
Then Akers, whom DiCicco calls the best woman player ever, couldn't resist repeating what President Clinton had told her when he visited the U.S. locker room after the game: "From someone who knows how to take a hit, I really admire you."