Chastain found other passions. In '05 she helped found the Bay Area Women's Sports Initiative (BAWSI, pronounced bossy), a nonprofit that promotes girls' fitness, self-esteem and leadership in underprivileged communities. And in '06 she gave birth to Jaden, an unplanned but welcome event. "I had been petrified of being pregnant and not being able to come back to the soccer field," she says. "I should have taken the chance earlier."
Neither motherhood nor age has slowed Chastain down much. Until the Gold Pride drafted her in the seventh round in January, Chastain's soccer playing in the previous four years had been limited to weekly games with a local club team. Yet she arrived at training camp fitter than most of her teammates, according to coach Albertin Montoya. ("I'm not over the top working out," Chastain explains, "I just never sit down.") Her ability to read the game is still there, too, says teammate Tiffeny Milbrett, the top goal scorer on the '99 World Cup team. "With the ball at her feet, she is still the same player."
Chastain hasn't started, but she has contributed in relief, helping set up the winning goal in the opening game on April 5 against Boston and just missing a game-tying header while playing forward, a position she hadn't played as a pro in 18 years, in a 2--0 loss to the Los Angeles Sol on May 24. She is the Gold Pride's fiercest advocate and fieriest player. In the WUSA, Chastain was the first woman to miss a game due to yellow cards, and this WPS season she got her first yellow for yelling at the refs—from the sideline—during a game against the Washington Freedom on May 31. "If you ask me if motherhood has mellowed Brandi, yes, somewhat," says Smith. "But on the soccer field she is still a terror."
While Chastain relishes her time on the grass with her teammates—"I'm going to enjoy every minute I'm out there, whether I'm playing 90 minutes or no minutes," she says—she admits that she has an ulterior motive in playing in the WPS. She has made 192 international appearances for the U.S., just eight shy of what she considers the most significant milestone in the sport. "I want to become a better player and get those 200 caps," says Chastain, who unsuccessfully angled for a tryout with current national team coach Pia Sundhage soon after Ryan was replaced in November 2007. "I know it may never happen."
Foudy, for one, doesn't dismiss the idea. "With Brandi, everything is a possibility," she says. "Having that goal exemplifies the attitude, not just of Brandi, but of that national team for so many years. There's always another level you can reach. We called it wholesome discontent."
Chastain practices it and preaches it. "I always tell my girls in BAWSI that you have to see yourselves achieving something by stretching farther than you thought you could," she says. "Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn't. But if you never extend yourself, you never know."
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