Soccer head coach shares her thoughts on the United States' memorable win
July 12, 2011
Interview by Brandon Barca, VUcommodores.com Twitter updates @brandonbarca
From recruiting the next two classes, organizing youth camps, and preparing for Vanderbilt's soccer season, Ronnie Woodard has managed a full agenda this summer. "And I'm also a mom on the side," added Woodard, who's entering her 11th year at the helm of the Commodore women's soccer team.
Like many of you, she couldn't hold her tears back after watching the drama unfold in the United States' comeback win over Brazil in the FIFA Women's World Cup on Sunday (full recap). Despite the excitement of the moment, she was able to contain her celebration enough to keep from waking her 22-month old son, Thomas.
I spoke with Woodard on Monday to get her thoughts on the Americans' improbable victory.
Brandon Barca: What was your reaction to the U.S.'s incredible comeback win over Brazil?
Ronnie Woodard: It was one of the most unbelievable comebacks and a true testament to the intensity level, the commitment, and the overall belief in their ability to win that our U.S. women's national team has. It was unbelievably inspiring to watch.
How did you watch the game?
I watched the game in my home by myself. My brother was with me for a little while. I actually had the game on pause at halftime and waited until my son took a nap to watch the second half. I put my phone to the side to make sure I didn't see anything so I could watch that part on delay.
Did you wake up your son with your reaction to the goal?
I didn't, thankfully; I thought I was going to. I silently just had my hands in the air. I was in awe, just absolute awe, of this team overcoming the odds of being a man down for 60 minutes, and then still dominating in those 60 minutes. Even with time running out in overtime, they just find a way (to win).
I think that there are a lot of athletes playing professional sports these days that could learn some lessons from watching the women's national team (Sunday). They showed what true passion and commitment to your sport is all about.
How difficult of a play was Wambach's goal to tie it in extra time?
It just proves why Abby Wambach's the best and why she's a world-class striker. She wanted the ball. It's a great example to teach young kids these days to want the responsibility and to the want to have that ball, and she really was the perfect example of it.
I think that there were just so many underlying stories that were in that game: Hope Solo and what she overcame from the last World Cup when she was benched and dismissed from the team, and came back to be a hero; Megan Rapinoe, who played the ball in to Wambach, lost her starting position in the first game of the World Cup and came off the bench and did it with class; Wambach suffered an ankle injury a year ago and didn't get to play in the Olympics, and here she is leading the team again. There are so many small stories that come together and prove that women's soccer is exciting, it's competitive, and it can inspire our youth of today.
Could this game impact youth soccer moving forward?
I think this moment will rival Brandi Chastain's penalty kick (to win the 1999 World Cup against China). Interestingly enough, Sunday's win happened on the anniversary of that play.
I think the combination of Hope Solo's saves and Abby Wambach's goals will go down in history and will have an impact on the sport for a long, long time. You had other professional athletes tweeting that they're going to name their first daughter after Hope Solo.
I think that women's soccer, specifically our women's national team, won over a lot of spectators. They didn't win it over by being successful in their result; they won it over because of their dedication to their sport, their belief in themselves, and their commitment to American soccer. That's what I think people saw.
The Vanderbilt women's soccer team will report to preseason camp on August 5th. The 2011 schedule features 12 home games and a total of six contests against teams that advanced to the 2010 NCAA Tournament.