The Girls of Summer
Author: Jere Longman
Now with a new afterword, The Girls of Summer, by the award- winning New York Times sportswriter Jere
Longman, takes a serious, compelling look at the women who won the 1999 World Cup and brings to life
the skills and victories of the American team. Longman explores the issues this unprecedented
achievement has raised: the importance of the players as role models; the significance of race and class;
the sexualization of the team members; and the differences between men and women's sports.
Provocative and insightful, this book reminds us that the real struggles are off the field -- and some remain
to be won.
AfterwordA League of Their Own"Are you Brandi Chastain?""No, she's the naked one."But you're
somebody, aren't you?"The woman in the restaurant filed through her mental Rolodex."I've seen you
somewhere. A Denny's ad?""Dunkin' Donuts.""Right, so you're . . . "Julie Foudy.""I knew you were
somebody."A year and a half after the Women's World Cup, the flame of recognitionstill kindled with the
public. It was now possible to see Foudy's face,like a wanted poster for calorie felons, in the window of
donut shops upand down the East Coast. An athletic windfall had dovetailed with thecommercial one.
Beginning in April of 2001, a professional soccer leaguefor women would begin play in eight cities, around
the country. Withopening day only four months away, Foudy and her teammates had gatheredin Boca
Raton, Florida, for the inaugural draft of the Women's UnitedSoccer Association (WUSA).The American
World Cup and. Olympic stars previously had been assignedin groups of threes to their respective teams.
Stars from Brazil, Norwayand Germany had also been allotted in pairs. Still, the draft held muchintrigue.
After earlier reluctance, China had recently made five of itsplayers available, including Sun Wen, the most
valuable player in the1999 Women's World Cup. Another 200 of the top female players in Americahad
also come to Boca Raton for a tryout camp, hoping, to be drafted.Among them was Trudi Sharpsteen of
Hermosa Beach, California. She hadbeen in the pool of players considered for the women's national team
in1986-87, and was one of the pioneers of the sport. Unlike Foudy, andChastain, however, her career had
played out in the anonymity of semiproball. But now, at age 36, Sharpsteen had taken a leave of absence
fromher job in the health care industry. Her sport had finally achieved thelegitimacy of a professional
league, and she would make one finalattempt to ride the cresting wave of popularity."I'm so happy this is
happening during my playing career," Foudy said,sitting in a hotel restaurant two days before the draft.
"Seeing friendsof mine that I grew up playing against getting a second chance isawesome. I played with
Trudi. How cool is this? She probably dreamed ofthis her whole life. She went through some of the same
things we wentthrough, and here she is out here. Now she's getting a chance."Christmas was
approaching, but the notion of wintry cheer seemed surrealin South Florida with its sweltering Santas and
inflatable snowmen.Once, it had seemed equally implausible that a women's professionalsoccer league
would have a chance to succeed in the United States. Evennow, with the Women's World Cup used as a
sort of champagne bottle tochristen the launch of the WUSA, many wondered whether the league
wouldbe seaworthy. There would be little room for error. Even the most fervidsupporters of the women's
game agreed that there would be no secondchance.As with any start-up, league officials faced opening
day with a mix ofanticipation and apprehension. There were no souvenir jerseys in thestores for
Christmas; no apparel company willing to match supplies ofuniforms with supplies of cash for
sponsorship deals; no permanent CEO,league president or commissioner; no buzz from an American
gold medal atthe 2000 Sydney Olympics. Apparently tired after a long, grindingschedule of international
travel, the United States played erraticallyduring the Summer Games. Coach April Heinrichs substituted
infrequentlyand some believed that her 4-4-2 system was not optimally suited to theAmerican team,
marginalizing Kristine Lilly on the wing in midfield...
Jere Longman is a reporter for the New York Times who has written about sports for nearly a quarter
century, including a three-year stint covering the Eagles for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His most recent
book is If Football's a Religion, Why Don't We Have a Prayer? His two previous HarperCollins books are
the bestselling Among the Heroes and The Girls of Summer. He has lived in the Philadelphia area for the
past twenty-three years.