Stateline, Nev. – These days, Brandi Chastain is a part-time television commentator for women’s soccer, a part-time volunteer coach for the University of Santa Clara women’s soccer team and a full-time mom.
She flew to London Sunday night from the American Century Championship at the Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course and will be a network announcer next week when the Women’s U.S. National Team faces North Korea in its first game. The USA squad has high expectations, but will be challenged by Japan, Germany and Brazil. Japan defeated the USA in last year’s World Cup final.
“I think everyone has high expectations for this Women’s U.S. National Team, and they have high expectations for themselves,” said Chastain. “It’s a team that has good veteran leadership and a lot of first-timers. Alex Morgan is scoring a lot of goals right now, and hopefully that will continue for her. But Abby Wambach is still the key player.
“She draws the most attention, and she can play with her feet or in the air,” Chastain continued. “There aren’t many players out there who can deal with her height and her strengths. When other teams have to worry so much about her, Alex gets to run around and do whatever she wants.”
Chastain doesn’t play at the elite level any longer, but the 44-year-old who celebrated a birthday earlier in the week, was one of the best from 1988 through 2004. She played on two winning World Cup teams, two Olympic gold medal teams, and an Olympic silver medal winner.
But she is most remembered for her reaction to the game-winning penalty kick against China in 1999 World Cup final that lifted the USA to victory. She raced toward mid-field and slid to her knees, lifted her shirt off and held her arms victoriously in the air. The black sports bra remaining on her athletic frame became the symbol of the dramatic win. The moment was captured for the cover of Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated
She would explain her reaction by saying, “It was momentary insanity. I wasn’t thinking about anything. I thought, ‘This is the greatest moment of my life in the soccer field.’”
Hardly a day goes by when she doesn’t hear a comment about that moment from an audience. At the American Century Championship, someone shouts for her to take off her shirt about every other hole. And she just smiles and laughs.
Chastain was introduced to golf by her grandfather when she was about eight or nine and she has never taken a golf lesson. She uses her natural athletic ability and gets a few pars during a round. She was one of two women in the celebrity field at the Tahoe event and she finished higher than about a dozen guys, including the loveable Charles Barkley, the perennial bottom-feeder. The event used a Stableford scoring system that awards graduated points for pars or better.
As part of festive weekend, she attended the Maroon 5 concert in town Saturday night with her husband, Jerry, and chuckled when the women in the crowd were yelling for singer Adam Levine to take his shirt off.
“Finally, I got to hear them yelling for someone else to take their shirt off,” she said.
By Craig Smith, former director of media relations for the U.S. Golf Association.