Ex-Bronco sits down to share insight about sport
THE SANTA CLARA
November 14, 2013
Former Santa Clara star, Olympic champion and World Cup winner Brandi Chastain has had a career full of victories.
As a student-athlete at Santa Clara, Chastain played two seasons as a Bronco and led them to two consecutive appearances in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
Following her time at the university, she began her professional career, which included time with the U.S. Women’s National Team.
One of Chastain’s most memorable moments came in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup when she made a penalty kick to defeat China and win the world championship for the United States.
For the past few years, she has been a volunteer assistant coach for the Santa Clara women’s soccer team, helping to coach and mentor the squad both on and off the field.
The former U.S. Women’s National Team member also continues to stay up to date with the current women’s national squad as they prepare for the 2015 World Cup.
Two of Santa Clara’s own could find themselves competing on that world stage. Senior Julie Johnston is a member of the full U.S. Women’s National Team and Under-23 player pool. Johnston’s teammate Sofia Huerta is a member of the Mexican Women’s National Team.
Maintaining her ties to collegiate athletics, Chastain is currently an ambassador for the Capital One Cup, an organization that awards college programs each year for their on-the-field accomplishments.
The Santa Clara: What do you like about the current women’s squad?
Brandi Chastain: What I love about this squad is that it’s a deep group. It’s a team that has many contributors. Years past we have had to rely on maybe one player or two to score all of the goals. That’s not the case for this team.
TSC: Can this be the year when they push deeper into the tournament?
BC: I always think that Santa Clara is capable of pushing forward into the tournament. It is nice to not be in the typical bracket with Stanford (University) that we’ve had over the last three or four years. So that’s good, but we are facing a known foe in (University of California, Berkeley) and having played them this year is good. I think we know what they are about and I think that we are well-equipped to win that game.
TSC: What do they have to improve on in order to succeed in the tournament?
BC: Now is not a time for improvement. Now is a time for just sharpening (their) tools, honing in on (their) skills, on the things that (they) do well.
TSC: What is like to have once played for Santa Clara and now be a coach for them?
BC: It’s an honor, number one. I was a transfer student to Santa Clara, so for me Santa Clara was my saving grace.
I needed the personal connections and I needed to know that there were people who were truly interested in me as a person and me as a student and me as an athlete, and I found that at Santa Clara.
Now, as an assistant coach, that’s what I try to give to the players that I get to work with, and the players that I get to interact with whether it’s men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s soccer, whatever. I’m there to help them with the experiences that I’ve had as a student-athlete and also as an adult who’s trying to help them see the bigger picture.
TSC: What is it going to take for the current team to get over the hump and win the 2015 World Cup?
BC: I think number one for the U.S. Women’s National Team is defending. Scoring goals has never been the problem. When you have the likes of Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Heather O’Reilly, goals will come. But defending is the key.
TSC: What do you like about Johnston’s game?
BC: I can go on and on about (Johnston). I’m a huge fan of (her) for a lot of reasons. One, I think her work rate is tireless. She is a competitor to the bone. At the same time, she doesn’t want to just compete, she wants to compete well.
I honestly believe that she deserves to wear a U.S. Women’s National Team jersey on a regular basis, and I think she will in the future.
TSC: What can Huerta bring to the Mexican National Team?
BC: (Huerta) brings to Mexico what she brings to our team: a player who is explosive, who is unpredictable at times, and at any moment — when she decides — can make a difference. I’m constantly reminding (Huerta) that she is a game changer.
TSC: If you could only use one word to describe making the penalty kick and winning the World Cup in 1999, what word would you choose?
BC: Amazing. I say amazing because it was amazing to be in that moment, amazing to be chosen to have that responsibility, amazing that the coach would ask me to take the penalty kick left-footed. I’d never done that in a big game before.
TSC: Can you describe your experience with the Capital One Cup?
BC: This is the fourth year, and I am so happy to be an ambassador once again. Number one, because I love college sports. Number two, I was a collegiate student athlete myself. I recognize that it does have two faces. You go out to the playing field as you go into your classroom. You have to be a champion in both to be successful. What I love about the Capital One Cup is that it recognizes both of those.
Contact Brendan Weber at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.