Shannon Boxx, Christie Pearce Rampone, Linda Hamilton headline National Soccer Hall of Fame induction ceremony

USA women's soccer players Shannon Boxx (left) and Christie Rampone pose for a photo.
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This week’s announcement of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s landmark agreement to offer equal pay to the women’s and men’s national soccer teams – including sharing in World Cup prize money – came at the perfect time ahead of the National Soccer Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022 induction ceremony.

Gender equality advocate and tennis legend Billie Jean King was quick to recognize the efforts of the women who helped pioneer this effort, including 2007 Hall of Fame inductees Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy, both of whom also played on the winning 1999 U.S. World Cup team. And this Saturday, they’ll be joined in the Hall by fellow ’99 teammate Christie Pearce Rampone, along with former USWNT members Shannon Boxx and Linda Hamilton, when this year’s inductees are honored in Frisco, Texas.

The women make up of half of this year’s HOF class, which also features players Clint Dempsey and Marco Etcheverry, and referee Esse Baharmast. Former U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo was voted into the Hall of Fame this year, but her induction will be delayed a year while she participates in an in-patient treatment program following her arrest on a DWI charge in late March.

On-field experience drives Linda Hamilton’s sideline mentality

The journey to the Hall of Fame was decidedly different for each woman, beginning with Linda Hamilton, who was one of two candidates elected from the Veteran ballot (along with Bolivian MLS star Etcheverry). The 52-year-old Hamilton, who’s served as head coach of the Southwestern University women’s soccer team since 2015, played 71 full internationals for the USWNT between 1987 and 1995. She was a key defender on the U.S. team that won the first FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991 and played in the 1995 World Cup, where the U.S. finished third.

“It means a lot to me as a defender,” said Hamilton, who also was a four-time All-American during her collegiate career. “We don’t always get the statistics that maybe would back up the criteria. It’s easy when you’re the most prolific scorer or you’ve got millions of assists. But as defenders – I do make this joke a lot – there’s not a stat that says how many people I kicked the crap out of. Now, I think if there were that stat, I would definitely be in the top 10.”

Hamilton starred for three seasons at North Carolina State, earning 1988 ACC player-of-the-year honors before transferring to the University of North Carolina to play for then-future U.S. World Cup coach Anson Dorrance as a senior. The Tar Heels captured the 1990 NCAA national title and Hamilton finished her career as a candidate for national player of the year three times.

But being recognized for her contributions to the 1991 U.S. team is particularly meaningful to Hamilton, who noted, “It really is a very empowering, but also a very big honor. I’ve always felt our defense made these contributions, but to have it recognized by people in the environment and by external people to say, ‘Yes, everything you did have great value, and we still remember it,’ I think that’s something that really hits home and makes me really happy.”

Hamilton’s career featured 82 appearances with the USWNT including 12 Women’s World Cup matches. She was a starter in all six matches at the 1991 World Cup where the USWNT allowed just three goals in the tournament and recorded four consecutive shutouts. After a stint in the non-profit world, Hamilton returned to the sidelines as coach, which included stops at Hofstra University (2006), North Florida (2007-13) and Illinois College (2014).

“I guess the biggest lesson is: It’s not about failures,” explained Hamilton, who was named SCAC coach of the year for the third time in 2021 after leading the Pirates to their first regular-season title. “You can’t be afraid to be successful, and you can’t be afraid to fail. You have to have the courage to do that. But the real lesson is, what do you do with the failure, when you have the failure? What’s your next move? Do you give up? Do you quit? Do you hang your head in the middle of a game? Do you react? Or do you just get back at it. And I think if I spent too much time worrying about being perfect, and what I just failed at, I would never be able to come back and have the success that you find after you fail.”

‘Out of the blue’ invite turns into 19-year career for Christie Pearce Rampone

During a decorated 19-year professional career, New Jersey native Christie Pearce Rampone was a mainstay on a USWNT that captured two Women’s World Cup championships (1999, 2015) and three Olympic gold medals (2004, 2008, 2012). But ahead of her Hall of Fame induction this weekend, Pearce remembers that her national team career actually kicked off as a complete surprise.

As a college athlete at Monmouth University, Pearce – known as Christie Rampone for most of her career – was there on a basketball scholarship. She worked out a deal with her coaches to also play on the soccer team during her time there (1993-96), but when Pearce was handed her first invitation to a national team training camp in December 1996 – while on the bus coming back from a disappointing basketball loss – she admits she didn’t understand the significance.

“I had no idea what I was getting into,” said Pearce, who headed to camp in San Diego that January. “I had no idea that they had just come off a gold medal until I got into the meeting room. And that was the first experience I had with the national team, before we even entered the field for practice, was seeing highlights from the ’96 Olympics.

“So, sitting in a meeting room, not knowing anybody, as a basketball player, I was blown away that I was sitting among so many amazing legends. And now I’m going to enter the field with them not knowing anybody’s name, not realizing what I thought was just going to be a bunch of seniors kind of coming together and kind of showcasing themselves and not realizing I was stepping on the field with such legends.”

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: USWNT to receive equal pay in landmark agreement with U.S. Soccer

She pulled out a camera, taking as many photos with players as she could and thinking she may never get such an opportunity again. Of course, that’s not how things worked out.

Pearce’s career included appearances in five Women’s World Cups and four Olympics, as well as all of the first 11 seasons of women’s professional league soccer in the U.S. (three seasons with the Women’s United Soccer Association, three with Women’s Professional Soccer and five National Women’s Soccer League). She was captain on field for the U.S. teams in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and the 2011 World Cup, and overall, Pearce appeared in 311 international matches and played 24,011 minutes in a U.S. uniform, second to only Kristine Lilly‘s record of 346 games and 28,874 minutes.

“I truly have embraced that journey,” said Pearce, who became a mom twice over during her career to daughters Reece and Riley. “I think that’s the highlight of my career is the journey: Starting off as a sub, becoming a starter, getting injured, coming back, making camps, not making rosters, you know, making my way back to the starting lineup, having children along the way was just, it was an all-encompassing great journey.”

Shannon Boxx’s better-late-than-never start fuels decorated career

Like former teammate Pearce, Shannon Boxx also was part of three gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic teams and the champion 2015 World Cup squad, but unlike both her fellow Hall of Fame inductees, Boxx’s USWNT career didn’t begin until nearly three years after she began playing professionally.

Boxx was already 26 when she was invited to her first national team training camp in 2003. After a standout career Notre Dame and three seasons in the WUSA where she earned MVP honors in 2003, Boxx was planning for post-player life, preparing to be an assistant coach at Cal State-Dominguez and pursue a master’s degree at Pepperdine.

But all that went out the door when Boxx made the team, going on to make 195 appearances for the USWNT from 2003-2015, ranking 12th all time and the most by a Black woman on the national team. She also became the first American woman to score in each of her first three appearances with the team, giving Boxx a platform she embraced as a biracial woman.

“There were definitely times when I was on the national team that I looked around and I was like, ‘I’m the only person here of color right now, you know, in certain moments on the team,’” she recalls. “For me, it was just the big weight that I was willing to have, but I remember feeling like, okay, when we’re signing autographs, I’m searching for those kids that are of color because I want them to know that they can do this, and I might be the only one right now, but that’s not going to be the way it is in the future.”

Boxx, a two-time postseason Best XI selection, continued her pro league career as well, and she’s one of just three women to play in all three seasons of the WUSA, all three seasons of WPS and the first three seasons of the NWSL. She also became a mother during her pro career, and publicly shared her health battles with Sjogren’s Syndrome and lupus.

Following her retirement, Boxx moved with her family in Portland, Oregon, where she founded an all-girls soccer academy called Bridge City Soccer Academy, dedicated to bringing the game to underserved populations.

“Parents are just so happy that we’re coming into a community that wants to do this,” said Boxx, who also is co-owner of NWSL expansion team Angel City FC in her native state of California. “They want to provide this for their children, but they have no means for it. I think it’s just making things a lot more accessible. And realizing that ‘pay to play’ is not the only means to get somebody to play soccer.”

MORE WOMEN’S SOCCER NEWS: The NWSL’s first ever CBA raises the bar for women’s sports

Kaillie Humphries elevates another fresh U.S. face to podium status in two-woman bobsled World Cup

Kaillie Humphries of USA, Kaysha Love of USA in action at the 2 women's bobsleigh during Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
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PARK CITY, UTAH – Kaillie Humphries extended her podium streak on Saturday at the IBSF World Cup, where she and U.S. push athlete Jasmine Jones finished third in the two-woman bobsled.

The third-place finish in Park City marked the sixth podium for Humphries at the Park City track, which hosted the 2002 Olympics, and was Jones’ career-first World Cup podium in just her second World Cup start.

“This is our first race together, so really excited about that,” said the 37-year-old Humphries, considered the greatest female driver in history with three Olympic gold medals (2010, 2014 and 2022) and five world championships titles. She earned her 29th career World Cup win on Friday in Park City in the women’s monobob.

“Definitely a work in progress. … The runs weren’t perfect, but I’m really happy with our starts, happy with our drives minus a few little mistakes. It’s a good starting point, and we’ll look to grow from here.”

Humphries and Jones finished with a combined, two-run time of 1:37.69, 0.32 behind winners Kim Kalicki and brakewoman Leonie Fiebig of Germany at 1:37.37. Fellow Germans Laura Nolte and Lena Neunecker were second at 0.23 back.

Kalicki and Fiebig broke a 16-year-old track record with their first run, laying down a time of 48.60 seconds and besting the time set by Americans Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming – the 2006 Olympic silver medalists – in December 2006 (48.73). It also marked the second straight victory for Kalicki, who’s won five career World Cup titles including last week’s two-woman bobsled race in Whistler, Canada.

“I was hoping Kaillie would get [the record],” said Rohbock, who is now a U.S. team coach and was on hand to see her record fall. “That first run there, she had that little skid in the bottom, so that didn’t help, but Kailee’s always putting up a great performance. And Jasmine, another great brakewoman, so we’re really lucky that we have that depth.”

For Team USA, it marked the second straight week that a fresh face earned her first podium finish while competing with Humphries. Last week in Whistler, push athlete Emily Renna and Humphries placed third in Renna’s first-ever World Cup appearance.

MORE IBSF WORLD CUP COVERAGE: Kelly Curtis notches career-best finish with top five at Park City skeleton World Cup

“Being able to race with her was really special,” said the 29-year-old Renna, who was a college track athlete at University of Rhode Island. “It’s really nice to be around seasoned veterans. It definitely makes you feel better in the back sled with you when you’ve got a good pilot who knows the track.”

Renna finished in eighth place in Park City with 12-year U.S. team veteran and pilot Nicole Vogt (1:39.04). Vogt partnered with Jones in her first World Cup last week where they finished seventh in Whistler, 1.33 seconds behind winners Kalicki and German teammate Anabel Galander.

“To have an opportunity to be with Kaillie in my World Cup debut – it’s exciting,” said the 26-year-old Jones, who was a collegiate track and field athlete at Eastern Michigan. “I just feel like I have so much more in the tank to give, and I’m just hungry for it.”

Jones is particularly gratified with her performance after returning full-time to bobsled less than 18 months ago following the birth of her daughter, Jade Quinn Jones, in February 2021. The Greensburg, Pa., native returned to training just five months postpartum, having sat out the 2020-21 season. She competed on the North American Cup last year, finishing the season with a win (the third NA Cup title of her career) and a third place in Lake Placid.

“I’m thankful,” said Jones. “Opportunity is the main thing, and I just feel blessed to have my first World Cup podium. I’m screaming on the inside. I may not show it, but I am jumping for joy because I’m just that excited and happy to have this accomplishment.”

She admits, however, it’s not always easy to compete balance a full-time competitive career with being a mom.

“Sometimes it’s a struggle being away from my daughter,” said Jones, whose mom takes care of Jade while she travels. “I try to get my facetimes in every night and just know that when I’m pushing, I’m doing it for her. Hopefully sometime in the future I’ll have her around on the sidelines cheering me on, and that’s my main motivation – that this is for her.”

The BMW IBSF World Cup continues its North American swing Dec. 16-18 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Kaillie Humphries faces IVF journey head on — and collects monobob World Cup win along the way

Gold medallist Kaillie Humphries of Team United States celebrates during the Women's Monobob.
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PARK CITY, UTAH — Kaillie Humphries knew the quest to start a family would impact her 2022-23 season, but it’s certainly not slowing down Team USA’s reigning monobob Olympic gold medalist, who captured her first World Cup title in the discipline on Friday.

The 37-year-old Humphries, considered the greatest female driver in history with three Olympic golds (2010, 2014 and 2022) and five world championships, earned her 29th career World Cup win and her third victory on the Park City track, where she won the two-woman bobsled competitions in 2012 and 2016. Competing in Utah – as well as North American World Cup stops in Whistler last week and in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Dec. 17-18 – is one of the reasons that Humphries pushed pause on her journey to motherhood.

“I’m excited,” Humphries said following the win, marking her second straight podium in monobob following a third-place finish last week in Whistler. “I was excited for this year before it started. It’s part and parcel of why my husband and I delayed the IVF process and starting a family this season. To be able to be back in North America and have the first half of the season here – it’s been a long time since we’ve had that, so I wanted to be able to compete and it feels awesome.”

That’s not to say the leadup to this season has been without its share of hiccups. In fact, Humphries admits that following the Beijing Olympics, she had hoped to get pregnant immediately, but she and husband Travis Armbruster had to pivot when a diagnosis of stage 4 endometriosis made it clear that in vitro fertilization would be the best path for pregnancy.

“Right after the Olympics, I was like, ‘We’re going to get pregnant; it’s gonna be all good,’” she said. “I thought, my body has always performed, and it wasn’t going to be an issue. Fast forward to I find out we have to do IVF. We do the first egg retrieval, and it doesn’t go as well as I had hoped — which anybody that’s done this process knows, you can’t control any aspect of it. And so having to do a second round of egg retrieval, …it pushed everything back.”

What’s more, it brought Humphries’ training to a standstill at times, when she would have to limit all physical activity during the three-week period surrounding the egg-retrieval process.

“It impacted my training coming into this year a lot,” she says, “but I also think it definitely reset my hormones, which turns out I needed. I don’t think was a bad thing. I knew coming into this year, I wasn’t going to be in the same shape as I have been in the past, and I had to make peace with that. I know that each and every race I’m racing myself into shape, and each race is a preparation for January’s World Championships.”

Humphries also chose to share her IVF journey publicly, and she’s documented every step of the way, believing that her story makes it less scary not just for her but also for other women and female athletes who might be facing the same thing.

MORE IBSF WORLD CUP: Kelly Curtis notches career-best finish with top five at Park City skeleton World Cup

“My husband and I weren’t sure that we wanted to share it at first,” she admits. “But I felt it was important just to showcase this. I have nothing to hide. And as much as there are parts of me certain days when I think, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ At the end of the day, I know I’m not alone in this.

“It’s important, I do have a voice, and I want other people to know, as an Olympic gold medalist, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody. Infertility exists in the female body, and it’s important that I talk about it in my journey and hopefully that’s inspired other people.”

She says she’s received an outpouring of support, which has been particularly gratifying as she continues to put a painful breakup with Team Canada in the rearview mirror. Humphries, who was born in Calgary, competed for Canada for 16 years, winning three Olympic medals including a bronze in Pyeongchang in 2018. But the relationship came to an abrupt end later just five months after the 2018 Games, after Humphries alleged emotional and mental harassment by a former coach.

Winning a gold medal in Beijing just two months after her U.S. citizenship was finalized proved to be turning point for Humphries, who commemorated the milestone with two new tattoos. She first added the date of her win – Feb. 14, 2022 – to the back of her left hand and a larger rose and skull illustration to the back of her right knee and calf, all of which commemorate her triumph over that darker period.

“The skull represents a rebirth and a growth, overcoming challenges and/or obstacles and turning something negative into something positive,” explains Humphries, who says she chose the rose because it’s the national flower of the U.S. as well as a symbol of love won or lost. She notes that she has “an actual Olympic one” planned for August 2024, which is when her favorite tattoo artist is next available.

Humphries has also found the silver lining in her IVF journey, as the competition season has been a welcome break from some of the self-imposed pressure.

“By pushing pause for four or five months and competing, it allowed me mentally to know that we can go into all of next summer and all winter focusing on just doing the actual embryo transfers and having a good pregnancy,” she says. “I don’t feel stressed to try and get pregnant right away. I felt like I was becoming competitive with myself, wondering why isn’t this working? Why can’t I do this? I tried to control too many things, and I started to get really frustrated. Mentally, it was hard. So, by pushing pause, going back to what I know — which is the sport, which is what I love – it’s allowed me to control a little bit of my future.”

Humphries’ season continues Saturday as the IBSF World Cup from Park City concludes with the two-woman bobsleigh.