Cover image for The girls of summer : the U.S. women's soccer team and how it changed the world
The girls of summer : the U.S. women's soccer team and how it changed the world
Longman, Jere.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperCollins, [2000]

Physical Description:
viii, 318 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations ; 25 cm
Conference Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV944.5 .L663 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
GV944.5 .L663 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The world of women's sports changed forever on July 10, 1999. That was the day the United States soccer team defeated China in a taut penalty-kick shoot-out in the Women's World Cup, triggering the kind of old-fashioned patriotism that sold out the Rose Bowl and brought President Clinton to his feet along with more than 40 million other Americans watching the match on television.

In vivid and graceful prose, award-winning New York Times sportswriter Jere Longman brings us The Girls of Summer, an intimate account of the epic final and an inside look at the cultural phenomenon that is U.S. women's soccer. With especially revealing profiles of such superstars as Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Brandi Chastain, and Briana Scurry, Longman illuminates the larger issues surrounding their success--their newfound status as role models, the media's sexualization of the team members, plays' grappling with matters of race, alleged sexual harassment, and equal pay for equal play, as well as the battle to establish an enduring legacy of female participation in the sport.

Not since the storied "Miracle on Ice" in 1980, when the U.S. men's Olympic hockey team upset the mighty Soviet Union in the Winter Olympics, has a group of athletes fired America's imagination as did these remarkable champions. The Girls of Summer takes its place as a sporting classic, a definitive work on a team for the ages.

Author Notes

Jere Longman is chief Olympics correspondent and staff sportswriter for the New York Times

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Soccer fans and even the uninitiated are unlikely to forget last summer's extraordinary game when the U.S. women's team defeated China for the world championship. Who doesn't recall the seemingly endless overtime plays and the victorious Brandi Chastain tearing off her jersey? With the 1999 team etched into sporting history, a reprise of the winning season was inevitable. The stories of the team members are particularly evocative, especially the struggles of individual players to overcome physical hardship. (For example, Longman eloquently describes Michelle Akers's severe chronic fatigue syndrome, which frequently caused her to collapse after games.) But excerpts of fans' conversation and naysayers' commentary appeal less. Longman, a sportswriter for the New York Times, interviewed coaches, players, fans and members of the competition for this detailed account of the championship season. Soccer fans wanting to savor the games and learn of behind-the-scenes events will probably enjoy this book. Yet Longman tries to cover so much groundÄfrom the biographies of the players to the political aspect of the game to the fans' perspectiveÄthat the work as a whole remains uneven. Photos not seen by PW. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Longman, an award-winning New York Times sportswriter, masterfully weaves gender issues, the influence of Title IX, and biographies and interviews with key players into each moment of her retelling of the 1999 Women's World Cup championship match between the U.S. and China. What happened at the Rose Bowl on July 10, 1999, was a historic moment not only because a recreational sport was catapulted to a national event but also because more than 40 million TV viewers tuned in, proving that women's sporting events are as appealing as men's. Two chapters of special note include, "The Great Wall of China" and "Fly in the Milk," in which Longman profiles the Chinese athletes and explores issues of minority participation in the sport. Her account is sure to educate readers about a significant turning point in sports history, appeal to converted fans eagerly awaiting the upcoming 2000 Olympics, and inspire all who crave wholesome competition with athletic role models representing the best values: hard work, dedication, sacrifice, loyalty, and teamwork. --Brenda Barrera

Library Journal Review

Framed around the final game of the 1999 Women's World Cup in the Rose Bowl (in which the United States beat China on penalty kicks after two scoreless hours), this book by New York Times sportswriter Longman ventures off the field to discuss such topics as the rise of women's sports, women's soccer in Muslim countries, and the athletes' sex appeal. Stars such as Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, and goalkeeper Brianna Scurry get a chapter apiece, but, laudably, less-heralded players, such as Christine Lilly, Carla Overbeck, and Sun Wen for China, also get center stage. More a celebration than the saga of "how the team changed the world," the book captures the excitement of soccer and the extreme competitive nature of these women players. Game descriptions are so vivid that readers will feel they are watching the game on video. An excellent purchase for all public libraries. (Photos not seen.)DKathy Ruffle, formerly with Coll. of New Caledonia Lib., Prince George, BC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

YA-Longman begins his book on a very hot day in the Rose Bowl at the Women's World Cup finals on July 10, 1999. Although the outcome of the competition, a U.S. win on a penalty kick by Brandi Chastain, made soccer history, he maintains suspense by abandoning a straight report and interspersing related themes. He offers an appraisal of the effect of Title IX, which granted equality for women; an analysis of the rise of women's teams worldwide; insights into the politics of soccer officialdom regarding player and coach financing; and allotment of money for equipment and travel needs. Of greatest interest to young people, however, are Longman's interviews with individual players. Whole chapters are devoted to the careers, philosophies, and doings of Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, Tiffeny Milbrett, Kristine Lilly, and Briana Scurry. In addition, there is a post-game insight into what fame and endorsement riches have done for and to these "Girls of Summer."-Frances Reiher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Girls of Summer The U.S. Women's Soccer Team and How It Changed the World Chapter One Afterword A 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 andminimizing the chance that, had she been healthy, Michelle Akers wouldhave returned to the lineup. Still, Mia Hamm asserted herself with atimely goal in the semifinals against Brazil and then made a brilliantrescuing pass to Tiffeny Milbrett at the end of regulation in thegold-medal game against Norway. The Americans lost in overtime, however,and in their stunning, gracious defeat there was the sense that apioneering era was coming to an end. Akers announced her retirement fromthe national team before the Olympics, and Carla Overbeck, theindispensable captain, followed before Christmas. "I wanted so badly todo it for this group," Foudy had said after the Norway match. "It'spossibly our last time together. It's irreplaceable, this bond." Two months later, excruciating defeat had been tempered by theexpectancy of a professional league that would extend the careers ofveteran players and serve to develop younger players for the nationalteam. Still, much work remained. One coach was yet to be namedofficially, and two teams were without finalized stadium contracts. Onlytwo corporate sponsors had been signed instead of the desired eight toten. The league's marketing department had limited experience involvingteam sports. Before a single game was played, one of the franchises hadbeen moved from Orlando, Florida, to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Theteam, known as the Tempest, was considering a name change, to theCourage, not wanting to be known in the inevitable shorthand ofnewspaper headlines as the 'Pests. Akers, voted the top female player ofthe century, had announced she wouldn't play the first season. And JoyFawcett, the reliable defender, was expecting her third child, which ledher San Diego team to request what was surely a first in professionalsports -- pregnancy compensation picks in the WUSA draft. Despite inescapable growing pains, the WUSA moved confidently towardopening day with its eight teams: the Atlanta Beat, Bay Area CyberRays,Boston Breakers, Carolina Courarage, New York Power, PhiladelphiaCharge, San Diego Spirit and Washington Freedom. There was reason to besanguine. Unlike Major League Soccer, the American men's professionalleague, the WUSA had signed virtually all the top female players in theworld... The Girls of Summer The U.S. Women's Soccer Team and How It Changed the World . Copyright © by Jere Longman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Girls of Summer: The U. S. Women's Soccer Team and How It Changed the World by Jeré Longman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

1 The Listp. 1
2 "I Will Have Two Fillings"p. 12
3 Babe Cityp. 27
4 "I'm Expecting Great Things from You"p. 48
5 Savages and Blunt Instrumentsp. 57
6 The Great Wall of Chinap. 74
7 Green Eggs and Hammp. 91
8 The Burden of Expectationsp. 107
9 And the Captains Shall Lead Themp. 129
10 "She Is Our Everything"p. 148
11 "Coach Us Like Men, Treat Us Like Women"p. 168
12 "My Team Needs Me"p. 189
13 The Most Underrated Player in the Worldp. 205
14 "Hollywood" Confidentialp. 215
15 The Jell-O Wobble of Exhaustionp. 227
16 Fly in the Milkp. 246
17 A Moment of Temporary Insanityp. 262
18 "We Did It for Each Other"p. 283
Afterword: A League of Their Ownp. 308
Sourcesp. 322
Bibliographyp. 325
Acknowledgmentsp. 326