Carla Overbeck still inspires

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Carla Overbeck and her U.S. teammates captivated a nation and became heroes to little girls when they won the '99 Women’s World Cup.

DURHAM, N.C.-- She won four national championships with the North Carolina Tar Heels and was an American hero to girls across the country when she helped win the 1999 Women’s World Cup as captain of the U.S. women’s national team. Carla Overbeck has every reason to be arrogant and distant from the Duke women’s soccer program, but she has been more to Duke soccer than just an assistant coach for the last 21 years.

Carla always has been an inspirational member of our team, but last Tuesday as my teammates and I sat in my apartment and watched ESPN’s “Nine for IX’’ episode “The 99ers,” we were reminded why we started and continue to be passionate for the game.

As I watched the documentary, what stood out to me is the unbelievable character and personality of our assistant coach. As a team we got to see how strong Carla was as a player, a leader and a person. Most amazing was recognizing that she is the exact same person with us as she was with her beloved and renowned ’99 teammates.

Just this preseason you could see the impact Carla has had on our 2013 team. During the five days we spent training in the mountains of North Carolina, she showed us her motherly side when she immediately came to our aid as a strange man tried to get into our van. Carla didn’t hesitate to make a fist, get right into the guy’s face and get him away from our team.

She can be protective of us, but she can also be one of us. While driving up the mountain, we came across a bear digging through a trash can. The scream was so loud you would have thought it was one of the girls, but it was Carla.

She laughs, she jokes, and she makes fun of all of us, making our relationship with her not one of intimidation, but respect. She is goofy and fun, but come game time she is intelligent, inspiring and one of the most passionate people on the sideline.

If you do not know Carla’s story, you would have no idea how much she has accomplished and how tough she is because she is incredibly humble. She is more to us than a famous women’s soccer player. She is a phenomenal coach, mentor and friend.