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From Mia Hamm To Michelle Akers, Where Are The 1996 Olympic Women’s Soccer Players Now?

By Karen Price | March 20, 2019, 2:49 p.m. (ET)


Mia Hamm’s pass to Joy Fawcett set up Tiffeny Milbrett to score the winning goal. If those names sound familiar, it might be because all three played key roles for the U.S. women’s soccer team in its groundbreaking win at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

This sequence took place three years earlier, however, in the gold-medal game at the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996.

Though not as famous as the 1999 team, the 1996 U.S. squad helped set the foundation for what was to come, playing in front of unprecedented crowds en route to winning the first Olympic gold medal in women’s soccer.

Of the 13 women who played for Team USA in the 2-1 gold-medal win over China, 11 also played in the 1999 World Cup final, when the U.S. overcame China in a shootout. In fact, nine of the 11 starters remained intact, a group that includes some of the biggest names in the sport’s history.

The women from the 1996 team are now spread across the country. Some can be seen on national soccer broadcasts, others have kept a lower profile and many are still involved in the game as youth coaches, helping to shape the future stars of Team USA.

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Mia Hamm in 1996 (L) and 2011


As we celebrate Women of Team USA Week, here’s a look at those 13 players and what they’re doing now:

Michelle Akers, 53: A powerhouse for U.S. soccer in the 1990s, Akers transitioned from a lethal goal scorer to a rock-solid defensive midfielder. She now runs Michelle Akers Horse Rescue and Outreach on an eight-acre farm in Powder Springs, Georgia, outside Atlanta. She started the non-profit in 2007 after taking in her first abused and neglected horse. Akers also does motivational speaking.

Brandi Chastain, 50: The hero of the 1999 shootout, Chastain has over the years remained involved in both youth and collegiate soccer and served as a commentator for NBC Sports at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. She had a viral moment in 2018 after the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame unveiled an embarrassingly bad plaque, bearing little if any resemblance to Chastain’s image, that drew swift and widespread criticism. Hall directors quickly moved to have a new plaque made to honor Chastain.

Joy Fawcett, 51: A longtime defender for the U.S. team who never received a red card in 239 career games, Fawcett largely stayed out of the spotlight after her playing career. However, she went on to become an assistant coach with the U.S. deaf women’s soccer team, whom she helped lead to the 2016 World Cup and 2017 Women’s Deaflympics.

Julie Foudy, 48: One of the iconic U.S. players of the generation, Foudy was a key midfielder who would go on to become a longtime team caption. Foudy now not only has her own Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy, a soccer, lacrosse and water polo camp for girls ages 12 to 18, but also joined ESPN as a soccer analyst in 2005. She continues to serve as the network’s analyst for women’s national team and college soccer coverage.

Carin Gabarra, 54: On the tail end of her playing career, Gabarra relieved Mia Hamm late in the 1996 gold-medal game in what proved to be her last match. The head coach of the Naval Academy’s women’s soccer program since 1993, she has led the team to 21 straight winning seasons and three NCAA tournament appearances. She won her 300th career game as a coach in 2015. 

Mia Hamm, 47: On her way to becoming the world’s all-time leading scorer and the face of U.S. soccer, Hamm was limited in 1996 with a sprained left ankle, even forcing her to miss a match, but she managed to score one goal in four games and played a key role in the gold-medal winning goal. Hamm is still involved in a number of different soccer ventures, including the TeamFirst Soccer Academy she launched with former teammates Kristine Lilly and Tisha Venturini-Hoch. She is part-owner of the Los Angeles Football Club, a global ambassador for FC Barcelona and has her own Mia Hamm Foundation to raise funds and awareness for families in need of a marrow or cord blood transplant and to develop more opportunities for young women in sports.

Kristine Lilly, 47: In a national team career that would extend to 2011 and include a world record 352 caps, Lilly was a fixture in the U.S. midfield for more than two decades. In addition to her work with Hamm and Venturini-Hoch at the TeamFirst Soccer Academy, Lilly also has her own KL Soccer Academy with summer dates in the New England area. She also does public speaking and has a number of charitable interests with which she’s involved.

Shannon Mac Millan, 44: The leading scorer for Team USA in Atlanta, Mac Millan tallied three goals, including the extra time game winner against Norway in the semifinals and the opener in the gold-medal game against China. As the executive director of one of the largest soccer clubs in the country, the Del Mar Carmel Valley Sharks, MacMillan gets to help shape young soccer players all over the San Diego area whether they’re just playing for fun or have collegiate or even Olympic aspirations.

Tiffeny Milbrett, 46: Playing in all five Olympic matches, Milbrett scored two goals, including the gold-medal winner. Though sometimes overshadowed by Team USA’s other offensive talent, Milbrett averaged nearly a goal per game in a national team career that spanned from 1991 to 2006. She also has an active role in helping shape today’s young soccer players as head girls’ coach for the Colorado Rapids Youth Soccer Club.

Carla Overbeck, 50: The longtime U.S. captain, Overbeck was a strong presence in central defense for Team USA. She graduated from North Carolina in 1990 but it’s been Duke with whom she’s spent the last 27 years. Overbeck started as an assistant coach with the Blue Devils in 1992 and remains there today. She’s helped the team to the NCAA tournament 23 times and in 2017, after winning the ACC Championship and getting the top seed in the NCAA tournament, she and the staff were named United Soccer Coaches National Staff of the Year.

Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak, 41: A 71st-minute sub for Tiffeny Milbrett in the gold-medal game, Roberts Sahaydak was a key midfield reserve during the Atlanta Games. She was named head coach of the University of Central Florida’s women’s soccer team in 2013. She’s a three-time American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year and her teams have won four American Athletic Conference championships.

Briana Scurry, 47: Scurry played every minute in goal for the U.S. team at two Olympic Games and three World Cups, and in that time the U.S. lost just two games. The two-time Olympic gold medalist draws from her multitude of experiences — as a national team athlete, as one of the first professional black female soccer players and an openly LGBT athlete, as an advocate for concussion awareness — to speak to numerous different groups, from colleges to youth teams to corporate gatherings. 

Tisha Venturini-Hoch, 46: Venturini-Hoch started all five games in Atlanta and scored twice in the group stage — including the first goal in Olympic women’s soccer history. In addition to her work with the TeamFirst Soccer Academy, Venturini-Hoch is the national spokesperson for Produce for Better Health.

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.