Hall Of Fame Focus: Hope Solo

Nov. 9, 2008

On Friday, Nov. 14 the University of Washington will officially induct the 2008 Husky Hall of Fame class. Women's soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo, who won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics, recently talked with GoHuskies.com about the honor bestowed upon her and her recent adventures.

What does entering the Husky Hall of Fame mean to you?
Hope Solo:
'It's funny because I played on the World Cup team and I played on the Olympic team, but for me, some of my best memories were at the University of Washington. But, not only memories, that is where I grew the most as a person as well as an athlete. I had great people surrounding me -- my coaches, the academic people that helped me graduate. Some of my best friends are from school, alumni, friends of the University of Washington. So, for me, it is such an honor because it was one of the greatest periods of my life.'

For information on tickets for the Husky Hall of Fame ceremony on Friday, Nov. 14 at 6:30 pm, please call 206.685.3739.

When did you realize you were good at soccer?
'I was always a really good athlete. I was just this scrappy little kid from the country. I grew up playing with my brother and all the boys. It didn't really matter which sport I played; I just loved it. I was just this dirty little kid. We literally built ramps and skateboarded off of them. We biked in the desert. We caught snakes. Literally, I just did it all and played it all. I think my first love was as a field player for soccer, so it's kind of funny that I ended up being a goalkeeper.

How did you get switched to goalkeeper?
'You don't even want to know! I almost went to college for basketball or for playing on the field. I think it was so hard for Lesle [Gallimore] and Amy [Griffin] to keep me in the net at the University of Washington. I wasn't happy. I didn't really accept that role. It was because I just didn't know enough about it. I used to think that goalkeepers were supposed to be the ones that either a) weren't fit or b) weren't good with the ball with their feet. I hated that stigma and I was ashamed to say that I was a goalkeeper. It took me many years of them teaching me about the position before I really earned some respect for it.'

Talk about the UW coaches (Lesle Gallimore and Amy Griffin) who tutored you through your college days and how they have helped you since you left?
'They are obviously great coaches and knowledgeable about the game, but you can find that anywhere. What you can't find anywhere is their ability to inspire somebody outside of the soccer field. They truly helped me become the best person that I can become. I went to school pretty naïve -- not knowing much about life. A lot of the hardest times in my life came in college when I was pretty young. They helped me deal with everything. They helped me be proud of where I came from. They really took care of me and prepared me for the real world.

'Post-college, I went to Philadelphia to go play my rookie season as a pro and I still wanted to lean on them. I still wanted to call them everyday and they kind of just pushed me on my way. They said `Hope, you're on your own now.' I remember kind of being bummed, but I found out for myself that I could fly and soar in the world on my own. Now, we're the best of friends. With this whole World Cup experience and me losing my father, there is no way I could have pushed forward without them in my corner.'

How did the coaches help push you through your World Cup experience?
'I've had a lot of bumps and bruises in my life. I consider myself a pretty strong person in my ability to get through things. That was one of the times in my life where I wasn't sure I was going to push through it. I wasn't sure I was going to make it back in time for the Olympics.

'I knew if I wanted to I could, but I lost the passion. There was just too much about the game that was uninspiring. So, I think they [the coaches] just stood in my corner and they just knew that the truth would come out if I were patient. They knew that I was a good person and they knew that I was doing the right thing. They just offered their support.'

Where does winning the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing stand in life achievements for you?
'It is very important. I've wanted to win a gold medal since I was a little girl. I was five years old when I told my family that I wanted to be a professional soccer player. But they didn't have professional soccer back then. For me the World Cup is the biggest sporting event on the world stage. I don't want to say that it is bigger and better than the Olympics; it's just different. It's soccer specific.

For me, it's funny. Winning the gold medal was the highlight of my career, but that World Cup to me, I've never played better soccer in my life. So, it's funny, I wasn't playing my best in the Olympics. I still don't think that I peaked at the right time. But, I did what I needed to do and I had a great game in the finals against Brazil and our team won and we won the medal. But, I think the most amazing part is that we did it as a team. It felt pretty amazing.'

Was it especially nice to beat Brazil for the gold medal?
'Honestly it really was. It was like a fairy tale ending. It was like a Hollywood movie.'

What are your plans for the next World Cup? Are you going to give it a go?
'Of course. I'm 27 years old. They say goalkeepers peak when they are 32 years old. I'm deemed as still being a young goalkeeper, believe it or not. But I feel good. I've been re-inspired. One of the great things that came my way is [Team USA Head Coach] Pia Sundhage. So, yeah, I feel great right now and fully plan to give it a go.'

What is next for Hope Solo?
'I think all of us are really trying to make the professional league work. There are seven teams right now with two teams that intend to join in 2010. So right now, I'm just an ambassador for the sport, as well as for women athletes. I think that it is really important for us to get out and talk about it and let them know about the league. I think there is a lot of people out there that don't even know about it, so there is a lot of appearances and speaking engagements. We're just trying to get the name of our soccer league out there. I'll be moving to St. Louis in January.'

What are you looking forward to most about the Hall of Fame ceremony and who are you most looking forward to rubbing elbows with?
'I don't know. I'm obviously familiar with the inductees and who is going in, but I think one of the most fun parts will be getting to get a grasp of who they are outside of the sporting arena. It is going to be interesting to talk one-on-one with the other inductees.'

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