In many respects, Mia Hamm made a lasting impression on women’s soccer in the United States.
Hamm, at 15, was the youngest player on the U.S. women’s national team.
She gained a reputation for her scoring, competitive spirit and all-around skills, and she helped push the “91ers” to gold medals in the World Cup championships in 1991 and 1999. The 91ers is the U.S. women’s soccer team in the inaugural World Cup circuit in the 1990s.
After World Cup success, Hamm and the U.S. won gold medals in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, and a silver in 2004. Atlanta 1996, 10 years after Title IX, saw the first-ever women’s Olympic soccer tournament, with Team USA winning gold in front of 76,000-plus fans.
This success thrust women’s soccer into the national spotlight, with Hamm’s No. 9 jersey becoming a top seller.
Mia Hamm ended her career with 275 national team appearances, netting 158 goals. That was the most national team goals of any player, male or female, until it was broken by Abby Wambach in 2013.
Hamm still holds the national team record with 144 assists.
So it was no surprise that Hamm was the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002, and that she is included in FIFA’s Top 100 Players in the World.
While Hamm retired from soccer in 2004, she continues to make a difference.
In 1999, the star created the Mia Hamm Foundation to raise funds and awareness for bone marrow and cord blood transplants, and increasing opportunities for women in sport. The foundation was created to honor her brother, who died from complications with aplastic anemia, a rare bone marrow disease.
Through the Mia Hamm Foundation, Hamm organized exhibition soccer matches to raise funds for transplant patients and their families.
Hamm also co-founded the Women’s United Soccer Association, the first women’s professional soccer league, and she played in the league for three years.
Hamm earned her way featured on the Women’s Professional Soccer logo.
Hamm, with her husband Nomar Garciaparra, are co-owners of the Los Angeles Football Club. LAFC began play in the Major League Soccer in 2018.