What an amazing run!
What an amazing final!
What a heart-breaker!
To a society that lives to compete, I say, “What competitors!”
To a culture that prints t-shirts that say, “2nd place is the first loser,” I say, “No Way!”
I loved watching and following it all. Hearing your heart, your team solidarity, your belief in yourselves and your training, even and especially your coach’s light-heartedness. What a great story you wrote, with history at your back door, offering an anniversary as an exclamation point. I admit it: I wore my 1999 World Cup t-shirt to support your run for Gold on Sunday. And if it had been “golden goal” (I like that term so much better than “sudden death.”) you would have brought home the gold instead of the silver.
But, ladies, hear this: While the ones awarded the gold medals are the winners, you only know who the true champions are when they finish second. The disappointment and exhaustion was written all over your faces even as the joy and elation was written on those of the Japanese. But there was no blame, no foul language, no head-hanging. Just consolation among you. There was even a hint of happiness for the Japanese, and later your words said just this.
You took your jobs seriously. You were playing for the WPA, for the future of women’s soccer in the USA, to inspire soccer-playing girls who will come after you. It has been said that the Japanese were playing for something more. On Sunday, that may have been so. But today, America’s young women soccer players are running faster and working harder because of you. To be you. In victory, you showed yourselves true and gracious champions. In defeat, you made us believers.
Thank you for bringing your best to the field of play and for bringing us with you. We send you a 21 gun salute. And, Pia, take a bow.
See you on the pitch,