Women's History Spotlight: Mia Hamm

Nicki Ham
In celebration of Women’s History Month, Louisville High School Athletics would like to share some historical facts about influential women who have made a footprint in sports history. This week's spotlight is on American soccer legend Mia Hamm.

Mariel (Mia) Margaret Hamm one of the most well-known and beloved female soccer athletes of all time. Hamm was born in Selma, Alabama March 17, 1972, the fourth of six children. She was born with a birth defect known as “clubfoot,” but was able to overcome her deformation with corrective shoes. As a child, Hamm’s family moved around frequently due to her father being in the Air Force. They lived on many Air Force bases around the world including Florence, Italy; it was here Hamm was first exposed to soccer.

After her family moved back to the United States, Hamm joined her first soccer team in Wichita Falls, Texas. In Junior High, she participated in many sports including both soccer and football, but as she progressed to high school, she decided to specialize in soccer.

Hamm was only 15 when she qualified for the 1987 U.S. Olympic Festival, playing on the United States Women’s National Soccer Team. Moving on to college, Hamm played for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1989 to 1993. She led the Tar Heels to four NCAA Division 1 Women’s Soccer Championships, and earned a three year run as the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) player of the year, and
was named ACC Female Athlete of the Year twice.

Hamm led the U.S. to Women’s World Cup wins in 1991 and 1999 and gold medals in the 1996 and 2004 Olympic Games and ultimately hung up her jersey on December 8, 2004, at the age of 32. She retired with a record 158 international goals, a record that stood for another nine years.

She won many awards throughout her career. She was named Sportswomen of the Year in 1997 and 1999 and was named U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year every year from 1994 to 1998. In 2000 she was named one of the top three female soccer players of the 20th century by the FIFA Female Player of the Century Award. In 2006 she was inducted in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, and then into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2008 she was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. She was named the greatest female athlete in 2012. One year later, in 2013, she became the first woman inducted into the World Football Hall of Fame. In 2021 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

To this day Mia Hamm still influences and inspires athletes of all ages to strive for greatness. She
dedicates her time to many institutions and foundations that hold great meaning to her. We honor
Mia Hamm as one of the best athletes alive.

“My coach said I ran like a girl, I said if he could run a little faster he could too.”
-Mia Hamm
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