As the record crowd of more than 90,000 fans at Pasadena's Rose Bowl - the most to see a women's sporting event in the United States - erupted with the winning goal in the 1999 World Cup, women's soccer ascended to a new level. The sport, mainstreamed with the success of the U. S. Women's National Team earlier in the 1990s, became a national phenomenon with the victory. Mia Hamm, who played in every celebrated win, was a driving force behind women's soccer and the national team. An iconic figure in sports, Hamm is widely considered the best female soccer player in history. Hamm played 17 years for the U.S., and her 158 goals in international competition are a record for females and males. As a 15-year-old, Hamm became the youngest player ever on the national team. At 19 in 1991, she became the youngest American woman to win a World Cup when the U.S. captured the inaugural women's tournament in China. With the two more World Cup wins and Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2004, Hamm and the U.S. team helped soccer earn a spot on America's sports radar. Born March 17, 1972 in Selma, Alabama U.S.A. Soccer's female athlete of the year five years in a row (1994-1998) All-American selection and Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year her last three seasons at North Carolina Helped take Tar Heels to four consecutive NCAA women's championships Graduated in 1993 with all-time ACC records in goals (103), assists (72) and points (278) Retired shortly after the 2004 Olympics in Athens Carried the U.S. flag at the closing ceremonies of the 2004 Olympics Won silver medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney Finished third at the 1995 World Cup in Sweden; named tournament MVP In 1999, Nike named the biggest building on its corporate campus after Hamm In March 2004, Hamm and former U.S. teammate Michelle Akers were the only two women and Americans named to the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living soccer players selected by Pele
Ian Sawyers took his place among the elite women's soccer coaches in 1993 with an interim tag on him.
Elevated to head coach in a pinch to replace Berhane Andeberhan, the former assistant ended up with a three-year run as the most successful coach in the history of Stanford University women's program.
In 1993, Sawyers led Stanford to a school-record 18 wins and the Cardinal appeared in final four of the NCAA Tournament. That was the first of three postseason appearances in three years for Sawyers in his short but successful Stanford tenure. He won Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors in 1995 and finished with a 50-8-4 record and an incredible .838 winning percentage. He's still the winningest head coach in the history of the Cardinal program.
Sawyers went on to coach professionally in the Women's United Soccer Association for three years, winning the inaugural championship with the San Jose CyberRays in 2001.