Mia Hamm the travelling salesman! - Xtratime Community
 
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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old March 2nd, 2001, 08:49 Thread Starter
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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Mia Hamm's other job is traveling salesman.

That's how the world's most famous women's soccer player would describe the past 10 years. When she's not playing the game, she's overcoming her shy nature to promote it.

She was at it again Thursday at the opening day of training camp for the Washington Freedom, one of eight teams in the new women's professional league, the WUSA, which starts next month.

``You go to England, and you don't have to sell the game,'' Hamm said. ``Even on the men's side, we're still trying to sell the game.''

The WUSA will need all of Hamm's energies -- on and off the field -- to succeed, and she is more than willing to oblige. She and other longtime members of the U.S. women's national team feel the league is just reward for the dues they've paid and the international success they've enjoyed.

``For so long, it was always a date that was out there, and you never thought it would get here,'' said Hamm, who went to high school in nearby Burke, Va. ``Every since I've been a part of the national team, it's always been: 'You can't sell the game.' 'You won't put people in the stands.' 'You'll never have a league.' And here we are.''

Players from the U.S. teams that won the 1999 World Cup and the silver medal at the 2000 Olympics were split among the eight teams. Hamm and goalkeeper-roommate Siri Mullinix and defender Michelle French were allocated to the Freedom.

The Freedom were also given two Brazilian stars, forwards Pretinha and Roseli, whose biggest adjustment has been the weather. Roseli was wearing shorts when she stepped off the plane last week.

``I got here and it was snowing,'' said Roseli, who donned sweatpants and gloves for Thursday's workout. ``I wasn't ready for that.''

The league is counting on Hamm's drawing power to sell out RFK Stadium for the April 14 opener against Brandi Chastain and the Bay Area Cyber Rays. Since it's the only game that weekend, all the players from the entire league will be on hand.

``We'd love for Brandi to keep her shirt on,'' said Hamm, a reference to Chastain's winning celebration at the end of the World Cup. ``We're going to give her every reason to keep it on.''

General manager Katy Button announced the Freedom had become the first team to sell 2,000 season tickets. Individual tickets for the opening game have yet to go on sale.

Hamm, recovering from shoulder surgery, was mostly on the sidelines during the spirited practice but is expected to be full-strength for the opener -- a necessity if the league is to get off to a good start.

``It's not Mia Hamm and the Washington Freedom,'' she said. ``It's the Washington Freedom. I'm not trying to shy away from my responsibility, but at the same time the identity has to be with this team.''

Meanwhile, Hamm is still smarting from the tearful loss to Norway in the gold medal game at the Sydney Olympics. The United States rallied to tie in the final seconds of regulation, but lost in overtime.

``I'm not over it,'' Hamm said. ``It's one of those things that hurts when you think about it. You can't change it, you just have to move on.''

The national team is moving on without her, at least temporarily. Hamm and the other Olympics stars won't be making an upcoming national team trip to Portugal because of the WUSA -- and that feels a little funny.

``It's weird to see the U.S. women's team traveling and you not being a part of it,'' Hamm said. ``But being a part of the Washington Freedom, what a great alternative. It's not like I'm sitting at home.''
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