Don't Try This at Home
Sept. 22, 2001
By Micah Dunham
It is not uncommon for a sports fan to leave a game thinking about the great play they just saw, and reminisce about how they probably could have made that play back when they were in school.
Newsflash! When it comes to the world-class plays that junior UW goalkeeper and Player of the Year candidate Hope Solo makes, you would not have made that play - not then, not now, not ever.
Hope is good - extremely good. Just ask former U.S. National team goalkeeper and current Husky assistant coach, Amy Griffin.
'Hope does everything well,' Griffin says. 'She thrives on pressure and doesn't let in any soft goals. In the entire season last year there was not one goal that went in that we thought she should have had. I think she is already one of the best goalkeepers in the country and she really hasn't played in goal that long.'
There are few athletes who have the capacity to amaze people with their ability and skill. At only 20 years old, Solo's ability is undeniable, and her still-developing skills already far surpass most.
'She is phenomenal. When I was 20 I didn't have any of the pressure on my shoulders that Hope does. I am so glad I was on the National Team when I was because I wouldn't have a prayer to be on it now. I am glad I didn't have to compete against Hope,' Griffin says with a smile.
'Hope is one of the up-and-coming stars with the U.S. National Team,' adds head coach Lesle Gallimore. 'Her athletic ability, her stature and her shot-stopping ability are world-class. You very rarely find a player that has as many attributes as she does athletically.'
Solo has earned seven 'caps' for international appearances with the National Team, and joined them again earlier this month for the Nike U.S. Women's Cup.
'All of these events are an emotional roller coaster for me. There are so many things I miss out on,' Solo explains. 'I have so much I don't want to leave behind, but I have to because soccer is my future. When I miss UW games it's hard because this is where I want to be and play right now.'
Solo missed the entire 2000 spring quarter at Washington while participating in U.S. Olympic Residency Camp in Chula Vista, Calif.
'At first I was sad to be leaving school but I knew I had to go,' she says. 'I was able to compare myself as a keeper to the rest of the world. It was real intense. I was in over my head at the beginning but I finally caught up and got the hang of it. We went to Portland to play an exhibition game vs. Mexico and my roommate was Brandi Chastain. I was used to seeing her on T.V. and now here she was as my roommate. The experience I got from being there has really helped me.'
So how did a young girl from a relatively small town in eastern Washington, who as a forward scored a conference-record 109 goals for Richland High School, grow up to become one of the top goalkeepers in the United States?
'When I was 15, I made the Olympic Development Team and the coaches there basically look for athletes to put in goal,' she explains. 'I had always played forward but was made the goalkeeper on that team. I never really enjoyed it - never! Back then I would go to an event every six months or so and that was only time I played keeper, but I've grown up a lot and learned to love it.'
Washington will be wearing a target when Pac-10 play begins in October. The 2000 Huskies took the Pac-10 title for the first time, relying heavily on a defense headed by Solo and senior, Andrea Morelli. Over the summer, Morelli suffered a knee injury and will miss the entire 2001 campaign, but Solo is optimistic.
'We have looked good so far. I didn't expect much from our rookies but they are good and I am excited to see how they help us. All the teams in the Pac-10 are strong and balanced. We'll have to see how things pan out.'
Many goalkeepers have the athleticism to succeed, but lack the mental aspects. Solo has proven that she has it all, and Griffin agrees.
'There are a lot of head-case goalkeepers,' the coach says. 'Hope is not one of them. She is very normal. If the National Team coaches are willing to be patient, Hope Solo could be a name that has U.S.A. attached to it for a long, long time.'
As for you sports fans: accept the fact that Hope Solo can do what most cannot. Take the opportunity to watch her tonight against Texas A&M in the Husky NIKE Invitational, and all season long at Husky Soccer Field. You won't be disappointed.