Foudy Looks Back On Historic Career

Julie Foudy says she was blessed to be part of three incredible teams during her Hall of Fame soccer career.

The first was the youth program she played with in Mission Viejo, a team of players that stayed together for 10 years until most of them left for college.

"Go Green Machine!" Foudy says. "The Green Striped Dolphins...it doesn't get better than that, right?"

The second was the U.S. national team, which made her an international name and part of one of the most seminal moments in sports history -- the 1999 Women's World Cup.

And the third was her college team at Stanford.

Foudy played at Stanford from 1989-1992, the early days of an emerging program. She came to The Farm without a scholarship and did not earn one until her senior season. She jokes that she wish she'd started school three years later. But Foudy said she has special memories of her college experience.

"We were building something," Foudy said. "I could have gone to North Carolina or someplace that was already successful. But I really chose Stanford because of the combination of academics and athletics and because I really wanted to help build something."

Foudy remembers coming in with a freshman class of 10 players. The five-year-old Cardinal program made its first NCAA Tournament in her sophomore season, and reached the quarterfinals in each of the next two years.

"I wish it had lasted about twice as long," Foudy said.

Foudy's time at Stanford as a student-athlete ran concurrent to her time with the U.S. National Team, a squad that also included Joy Fawcett, who was playing at Cal from 1987-89. Foudy had to leave her college team in November of 1991 to participate in the first Women's World Cup Tournament in China.

Foudy remembers that she missed several weeks of school, left her college teammates behind and returned as the World Cup championship, but also as a student-athlete with final exams to complete.

"I remember going back to class and saying 'Hey, we just won the World Cup' and my professors saying 'Here's your final. You have two hours to be done,'" Foudy said. "I hated to leave my team. I could have redshirted the year, but I hated the idea of leaving Stanford and making the [NCAA] playoffs back then was hard to do."

Foudy was the longtime team captain for the U.S. national team (1991-2000), including that historic day at the Rose Bowl when the U.S. team beat China to win the championship in front of more than 90,000 people. That game is widely regarded as the biggest moment in the history of women's sports.

During her playing career, Foudy won two World Cups and three Olympic medals. She was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007. She is part of one of the most well-known women's teams ever -- a group that included Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Fawcett and Brandi Chastain. It was their strong bonds of friendship that endeared the players to the public and molded their now-legendary successes.

Foudy said she still keeps in close contact with some of her Stanford teammates as well.

When traveling with the U.S. team around the country, she would often make time to meet up with old Stanford friends - teammates and classmates. There was always someone to have dinner with or meet for coffee or a quick catch-up.

"Mia and Brandi always used to joke with me, 'Oh here we go, you're going to visit your Stanford friends,'" Foudy remembered with a laugh.

Foudy's experience on the world stage has opened up other opportunities -- including her time served as the president of the Women's Sports Foundation. Foudy currently runs The Julie Foudy Leadership Academy for young female athletes as well as working as a investigative reporter and analyst for ESPN.

She said she has always been impressed with the broad-based women's programs offered in the Pac-10.

"It's the number of sports and the opportunities they provide for girls," Foudy said. "That is not the trend line in current college athletics. I know it is not easy to keep a broad-based approach at that level. There is such a spectrum at different schools. And I think that is great."