Mariel Margaret Hamm-Garciaparra, hailed as a soccer icon, was the face of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), the first professional women's soccer league in the United States. Here are some very interesting facts about the former professional women soccer player:
Hamm is a soccer icon and the first women to be inducted into the World Football Hall of Fame. As the greatest women soccer player, she was the most marketable female athlete of her generation.
In 1997 and 1999, she was awarded the ‘Sportswomen of the Year’ by the Women’s Sports Foundation in the Team winners’ category andshe finished third behind Michelle Akers and Sun Wen in voting for the FIFA Female Player of the Century.
In June 2011, she was inducted into nine members Board of Directors of National Soccer Hall of Fame and in 2012 Hamm was one of the members of U.S Soccer’s newly created search committee to appoint a coach for the women’s national team.
She is author of the national bestseller ‘Go For the Goal: A Champion’s Guide to Winning in Soccer and Life and has also written a juvenile fiction book ‘Winner Never Quits.’
She was born Mariel Margaret Hamm-Garciaparra, on March 17, 1972, in Selma, Alabama, United States. Her father was fighter pilot with U.S Air Force and her mother was a former ballerina.
She is fourth of six children born with birth defect of a partial clubfoot. She took to soccer at the age of two while in Italy and was enrolled in a soccer club by the age of five when the family moved back to Wichita, Texas.
She played soccer for Notre Dame Catholic High School in Wichita Falls and won the 1989 girls soccer Virginia State title with Lake Braddock Secondary School in Virginia.
During her years with University of North Carolina, she was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year for three consecutive years and ACC Female Athlete of the Year in 1993 and 1994.
When she graduated 1994, she had a record 103 goals and 72 assists and tallied 278 points apart from being member of silver medal winning United States Women’s National College team at 1993 Summer Universiade, held at Buffalo, New York.
She became the youngest at 15 years and 140 days to play for the U.S. National Team when she made her debut for the U.S.A in 1987. She scored her first international goal not before her 17th appearances against Norway on July 25, 1990, but since has scored in 15 countries against 31 different national teams.
With 276 caps, Hamm is the third most-capped player in the history of soccer, men or women. She is U.S all-time leading scorer with 158 goals and 144 career assists. She is 51 goals ahead of next best scorer Elisabetta Vignotto of Italy with 107 goals.
She has to her credit eight hat-tricks and has scored four goals in two games apart from netting a couple in 28 games in her career statistics.
Hamm made it to the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup in China, which the United States won. She scored a goal each against Sweden and Brazil during the group stages.
As part of next three world cup in 1995, 1999 and 2003, she scored six goals and was named in the 1999 All-Star Team as forward.
After the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final against China, won by U.S on penalty shootout, Hamm collapsed in the locker room due to severe dehydration. She was given three liters of fluid with an Intravenous drip and she slept for 12 hours at a stretch.
During 1995, FIFA World Cup in Sweden, she substituted as goalkeeper for several minutes against Demark, after starter Briana Scurry was ejected and U.S had used all its substitutes. She did not let in any goal.
She took part in three Olympics including the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when women’s soccer made its debut. She scored five goals in all and was part of two gold medals and one silver medal winning team.
As one of the fabulous five of U.S team, playing the last Olympics, she was selected by her fellow Olympian to carry the American flag at the closing ceremony, the first soccer player to do so. She led the U.S to its second soccer gold at Olympics.
On September 18, 1998, she scored her 100th international goal in a friendly against Russia in Rochester, New York. That year she scored 20 goals, the highest total in a season of her international career apart from 20 assists.
At the 1998, Goodwill Games, Hamm scored five of the U.S team’s seven goals, including all important two goals in the final to defeat China for the title.
In 2001, Hamm was the founding player in the professional women’s soccer league in the U.S under W.U.S.A. She played for the Washington Freedom from 2001-2003.
On May 14, 2004, she announced her retirement effective after the summer Olympics and played her final match against Mexico, on December 08, that year. The U.S defeated Mexico 5-0 with two assists from Hamm.
She has signed several endorsement deals during her career with Gatorade, Nike, Dreyer’s Ice Cream, Pepsi, Nabisco, Fleet Bank, Earthgrains, MasterCard, Edy’s Frozen Yogurt and Powerbar.
As part of FIFA’s 100th anniversary celebration, Pele was commissioned to select 125 greatest living soccer players in 2004. Hamm along with Michelle Akers was the only female to figure in the list.
She has the honor being voted ‘U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year,’ for consecutive years from 1994 to 1998. She has also won three ESPY awards including Best Female Athlete of the Year for 1998 and 2000.
Hamm was married to her college sweetheart Christiaan Corry for about six years, before divorcing him in 2001. Then she married Nomar Garciaparra on November 22, 2003. They have twin daughters and a son.
In 1999, she founded ‘Mia Hamm Foundation’ and dedicated it to promoting awareness and raising funds for a bone marrow or cord blood transplant.
As a global sporting icon, she has featured on the covers of several magazines including, Sports Illustrated, Times and People. She has also regularon the television in shows like Late Night with David Letterman, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, Good Morning America and The Oprah Winfrey Show.
She has featured in documentaries like, Once in Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos and Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team.
Her likeness was used in the logo of Women’s Professional Soccer.