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It was the spring of 1999 when my childhood friend, Traci, asked me, "Is anyone on the team filming the journey as you prepare and play in this World Cup?"
"No," I said jokingly (kind of). "We don't trust ourselves with cameras."
Not long after that exchange, she handed me a camera saying, "Someone needs to capture this." And so, my obsession with filming our team and the summer of 1999 began.
"The '99ers," one of the films from the Nine for IX series, is a first glimpse into that personal footage. From our training camp in Florida, to crisscrossing the country competing in game after game, to the emotion of playing in front of more than 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl, the footage captures behind-the-scenes moments as the World Cup unfolds -- on the bus, in the locker room, at practice and on the field.
While I reviewed this footage, which I had not seen in more than 10 years, two overriding emotions hit me:
• Thank goodness there was no Twitter back then.
• Gosh, we had fun.
There was so much joy in playing together and celebrating each other. We managed to balance the emotions of the moment -- rejoicing in the magnitude of it, but not being overwhelmed by it. There was silliness, yet focus. As we used to say to each other, "Pressure is a privilege," and this footage shows how the team took that to heart. Most of all, I realized just how much I miss the gals. I miss laughing with them. I miss the daily interaction. I miss being part of a team.
Luckily, I had the opportunity to sit down with many of them again, almost 14 years later. In those interviews, we discussed the impact and legacy of that summer. We also talked with current U.S. national team players about the differences in the game and women's sports, then and now. We share memories, battle wounds (Michelle Akers has a lot of them) and, yes, more laughter.
This film is a rare glimpse into a group of women who embraced the challenge of putting on the biggest women's sporting event in the world and were determined to show the world the summer of 1999 should be the norm, not the exception.