Life Enhancing Lessons from Sports
Aug. 20, 2021

S2 E2: “I Loved Playing Soccer” feat. Brandi Chastain

S2 E2:  “I Loved Playing Soccer” feat. Brandi Chastain

Child Soccer Pathfinder + World Cup Champ + Olympic Gold = Women’s Sports Icon


John Moffet is joined by Brandi Chastain, an American soccer player, two-time FIFA Women's World Cup champion, two-time Olympic gold-medalist, coach, and sports broadcaster.

In today’s episode of SPORTS + LIFE + BALANCE, Brandi shares the pivotal moment when she discovered that her immense talent could only take her so far. You'll hear how throughout her career, through all the setbacks and injuries, she was always guided by a single powerful force: love.

Follow Brandi Chastain:

https://www.instagram.com/brandichastain/

Thanks to our episode sponsor, Roka! Use code "SLB" for 20% off your purchase at Roka.
https://www.roka.com/

Transcript

INTRO:

Welcome to SPORTS + LIFE +BALANCE,

Brandi Chastain:

I believed that there was a lot of things that I didn't need to do, because I just naturally somehow by the grace of whatever you believe in, was really good at soccer. And so the hard work belong to someone else, I'll just come out and do the little things like I can do those things really easily. I don't know why I was, you know, I was given this gift of, you know, good balance and good technique. And I could do most sports. And so I kind of overlooked all the little things that really kind of give you this edge. And I learned the hard way, like smack you in the face hard way like, you know, you're you're not going to make it because we don't think that you have good enough work ethic. Or we don't think that you're committed enough because you don't do all the little things that everybody else is doing. And so that was a big wake up call, which was awesome. Because I needed it. That was

JOHN MOFFET:

American soccer legend Brandi Chastain, describing a pivotal moment, when she discovered that her immense talent could only take her so far. And today you'll hear how throughout Brandi's, spectacular career, through all the setbacks, the injuries, and yes, the victories. She was always guided by a single powerful force. And that's love. i'm john Moffitt, and I'm so glad you've joined us today for another episode of sports life balance. During Brandi 16 years of playing for the United States women's national team, she won two Olympic gold and one silver medal. She's part of two World Cup championship teams and play professionally around the world. And to this day, she's a coach. Brandi became world famous overnight when she kicked the game winning goal to clinch Team USA his victory in the 1999 FIFA World Cup, held at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. But it's a photograph of that moment, the iconic image capturing the absolutely unbridled celebration, ripping off your jersey falling to her knees, and raising our fists towards the sky. That one picture symbolize the emergence of big time women's sports in America, and, more importantly, taught a new generation of girls that being an athlete can also be awe inspiring. Well, Brandi, thank you so much for joining me today on SPORTS + LIFE + BALANCE.

Brandi Chastain:

You're welcome. And it's nice to be here with you. It's a good reminder, for me anyway, just even the title.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, you know, what I'm trying to get out is what those life enhancing lessons that we all learn from sports that can be applied to real life.

Brandi Chastain:

You know, I think I'm, I think when we go through these different stages and phases of our life, those things mean different, those lessons mean different things. For sure. When my son was before I had kids, now that I have, I had a young son, now he's in his teenage years, it means something different. You know, I have grandkids, and, you know, I see myself managing those spaces differently. So it's I think the balance part is really, I'm trying to find that, which is not always easy.

JOHN MOFFET:

No, no, no. And I think that that's the, that's the most elusive thing. And that's the most difficult thing to achieve. The pursuit of an athlete, especially on the level that you were pursuing, it's inherently unbalanced. Yeah. But there still are so many life's lessons. And we'll be talking about a lot of those and saw a lot of life lessons that you you taught the world as well. So there's there's certainly magic in that there's magic in sports, and we all know,

Brandi Chastain:

No doubt about that.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well we have actually, we have actually met before we work together way back, I think it was 2009. You were one of the athletes on the Superstars, which was, which was a reboot from the 70s and 80s, where Olympic gold medalists and professional athletes all came together in a big competition and this particular one was in the Bahamas.

Brandi Chastain:

I you know what? I can't tell you how excited I was to be on that show. Not not so much on the show, but just be participating in the activities because I watched that show. I did too. And I loved all the different things and I I so desperately when I was a young person wanted to as a kid, you know, wanted to do this superstars. And that was I wasn't in perfect health when I went to do it. So I was a little bit disappointed in my outcome. As a competitor, me would say,

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah

Brandi Chastain:

But I had a blast.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, that's good. That's good. And I don't think you're gonna remember this, but you made an immediate impression on me. And that was nice.

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah, I hope.

JOHN MOFFET:

Oh, no, no, it was good. When we first met, you made it very clear that you had done your research, and that you knew that I was an athlete and my past life.

Brandi Chastain:

See now now I'm trying now I'm going back into my head going, "Oh My Gosh, for me, what did I forget?"

JOHN MOFFET:

well, no, no, no, it's, it's, I think the thing that's most notable, of course, I noted that, because I've been in the entertainment business for a long time. And rarely do people do that, that you work with. Rarely do people find out who you're working with. And then you're in a competition, you know, and the other thing was amazing is no other athletes did that. So no other athletes figured out that I had an athletic background.

Brandi Chastain:

Well, you know, what, I've done a lot of different things, you know, with television, and small film type things. And there's always kind of a disconnect between the sports and the production, you know, whether that be the camera person, or the director or the writer. And so it's always nice when there's a confluence of those things, because there's an understanding. So maybe that made me feel really comfortable to know that about you?

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, I think that there is an understanding between athletes, you know, there's a, although the experiences are oftentimes very separate, it is also a shared experience of, of what, you know, what, what fellow Olympians have been through, too, to get to where they they went, they had to endure similar things and, and have that crazy, wacky dream that nobody necessarily thinks you can accomplish that.

Brandi Chastain:

Well, yeah, especially when it didn't exist when you were growing up?

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, for you, yeah, for you, for sure. And this, this dream, I guess, began back in San Jose, which is where you grew up. That's correct. In Northern California, in the Bay Area. And, and, you, you, you've described in interviews past, a universal from women of your era, and that is that you had to play from with the boys, because there wasn't a girl soccer team, there wasn't an opportunity.

Brandi Chastain:

Well, and, you know, at a very young age, that was true, and then all of a sudden, girls soccer did pop up. But there were instances when, like, in school, where there wasn't a girls team, and there was a, I'm doing the air quotes co Ed team, which wasn't really co Ed, it was named that but really didn't act in that way. And so trying to be a part of that was an interesting opportunity, one that I'm really super grateful for, because I found ally ship and the friends that that were of a different gender than I was, and they basically told the coach, hey, you need to give these girls a try. They're good. So I think that was really the first time I was in seventh grade. You know, you're in an impressionable time, you know, you start to make your judgments about things and, you know, start building the pathway of how you're going to think for the rest of your life. And I think that moment just stands so clear in my head about how I believe today that everybody has the capacity to do great things, doesn't matter what you look like on the outside or what your religion is, or where you were born, or you know, who your parents were, everybody is, you know, if they so desire, and they, they commit to it can do wonderful things.

JOHN MOFFET:

And, and, and that's the key, right? I mean, when you were really little, nobody knew that you had a men's soccer talent, but it was through your desire and drive and hard work where that soccer talent was honed and developed. Right? And

Brandi Chastain:

So yeah, I think I think it was actually love. What more than anything, I think it was through love, right? Because when I, when I went out there, I loved playing soccer. I love the feeling I got I love the people that I was around, I loved how I felt at the end. I love the anticipation of going, you know, I just loved all that. And I I just wanted it more and more all the time. And and on the days that I didn't have soccer practice, which if you think about you know what the landscape of sport looks like right now. It's it's overwhelmingly unbalanced. In how many days of the week and how many trainers and what are the hours and what's the oh my gosh, it's over the top. And I practice two days a week, three days a week with my team. Yeah, which was which was probably about four hours a week. And then everything else was just, you know, on me, it was you know, there wasn't anybody else. I took my ball down to the local school and I kicked it against Well, because that's what made me happy. That's what I love to do.

JOHN MOFFET:

Oh, that's done. Yeah, that is so awesome. The way you describe that through that one word love and, and you were Yeah, you just actively pursued it. Because it was such something that was so deeply ingrained into who you were, I guess, right?

Brandi Chastain:

I think because my parents just encouraged me to do what made me happy. You know, I mean, they didn't know anything about soccer. My dad was my coach. He didn't he knew less than I did, probably and I didn't know anything. So we both just learn together, it became our thing. And and we grew into soccer as a as a family. So it was Yeah, I just, I don't know I love I just love the whole environment. I mean, I can close my eyes and just be right there on the sideline. And, you know, I'm pulling my socks up, and I'm running into the field and my grandfather and my mom and my dad and all the kids from my neighborhood and you know, their parents and it was it was always so fun. It was so fun. You know, Aye. Aye aye, I wanted my kids to feel that too. And you know, I feel like maybe my love was so strong that it for it, push them away from what I love so much, because it was just too overwhelming. Your big shadows? Yeah, maybe. I mean, that was not the intention, right? The intention is to share with your kids what makes you feel good, and hopefully they get that same kind of feeling. But you know, they can't feel just because you felt something so you know, that was a big life lesson for me.

JOHN MOFFET:

Right? Right. Yeah. Well, that's just another shared life lesson that we have. One one child who is a division one athletes and, and much the same way, I think that you describe that you just love going out on the field. And that's your happy place. It's your peaceful place. She's the same way when she steps on the volleyball court. That's her. That's her space. And so awesome. It is it is magic to see that because the pool was you know, the water was was my space. And so I understand firsthand like wanting that feeling. And I still like that feeling. Well, you you started obviously taking it very seriously because you went to Archbishop Mitty, which those of us in in California and those of us who have had a girls, especially going through, you know, high school, Archbishop Mitty, for those who don't know, it is no joke as far as Girls, Girls athletics, and they're routinely ranked if not number one, and the very top of the list of best athletic programs in the country.

Brandi Chastain:

It I can't, I can't pretend like that's how it was when I was there. It was just the beginning. I mean, we won. I mean, we won three championships in soccer. But you know, when I went to committee, that's really wasn't the focus. And it was, I only happened to go there because two of my, my teammates from my youth team, were going and they said, Come on with us. And I'm like, What are you talking about? Like, I didn't even know it was like, a few weeks before schools was to start. And they're like, yeah, we're gonna go to the school and I was like, Hey, Mom and Dad, what do you think about it? Go to this private school, where it takes 45 minutes to get there because there's no there's no freeway between here and there. And, and they're like, Oh, we can carpool. Okay, let's do it. And I mean, that could never happen now. I mean, the application process and the you know, just the testing to get in. I probably would I don't know if I would, would make it but it was on a whim. And it was Yeah, it was great. And but but it's it is it has evolved for sure. since the mid 80s.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, winning three state championships, you are certainly once again at the leading edge of creating that legacy.

Brandi Chastain:

Unbeknown, unbeknownst to me, yes.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, well, it look you did well enough where you ended up going across the bay to college to Berkeley.

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah.

JOHN MOFFET:

And, and by all indications You did really well didn't you? You had a very good season your freshman year.

Brandi Chastain:

Soccer wise, yes. Soccer wise, I did fabulous. I was Freshmen Player of the Year. We went to the playoffs. I think we were in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. So that's fantastic.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah.

Brandi Chastain:

But my talking about sport life balance was, no, it was totally out of whack. It was really just sport and I was in over my head and being independent, and then not being responsible. So it was great. It was great. I look back on the experience, though very difficult and disappointing. And I feel like I let some people down. I really learned a lot about commitment and time management and you know, just organizing your life. And I still to this day, don't get it always right. But it's, you know, it was I was really grateful for the opportunity to because it definitely gave me a lot of perspective.

JOHN MOFFET:

Right, which is what college is supposed to do. And it was obviously part of the foundation of creating, you know, who you are, what you were able to accomplish in the future. And all of those lessons are, you're there for there for a reason, you know, we all experienced those things.

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah, no doubt. I mean, you know, I, again, I think parenting is the hardest thing I've ever done. And every day is it presents a new challenge. And so, you know, I'm, I'm trying to keep my head above water, and figure out how to be the best parent I can be when I'm not even, you know, my parents are no longer living. And I wish I could have asked them questions about what did you do when I did this? And how did you handle it? And because the there's just no guidebook? And but, but the point of what I'm saying is that we need sometimes to have these barriers of entry to feelings, or emotions or outcomes or answers, because if we don't have those things, and we just kind of know coast along without feeling about things are really, you know, stretching yourself,

JOHN MOFFET:

right? Well, and you have to have the pain points. And, and from what I read the like, from your background. You know, you had incredible success on the soccer field. It Cal, however, right on the heels of that. I'm sorry, I was bad pun. You had double ACL surgery. Yeah, anterior cruciate limited ligament, and you don't have to have those unless there's massive, massive damage, right?

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah, no, I mean, I, my first ACL happened in the spring of my freshman year, and I was playing with a club team. And just, you know, I was in a game and not an unusual circumstance. But I, you know, I tried to run between two players. And we had this collision and and luckily, we had one of my teammates was dating this guy who was the physical therapist, and he came out, and he was kind of like our trainer, he came out and he kind of did a little assessment. He's like, hey, let's just come off the field. It's not much of the game left. Okay, I kind of fought him a little bit. No, I think I'm fine. It's like, yeah, let's just see, you know, what's the first day of the tournament, we'll wait to see how it's feeling tomorrow. And that night, it just went, you know, and it's like, I think, I think we need to talk about what this could possibly be. And I had no idea, right, you know, no idea. And so that started something really great in my life, which I didn't foresee. I didn't want but it turned out to be amazing. Which is that, you know, it gave it it was the impetus for making a change, leaving cow like coming home, and finding milk, the pathway that I was supposed to be on. And, you know, kind of giving me a reset. I think long hitting reset, reset is, is okay, you know, I think most of us feel that if we make a choice, we have to endure through that choice, and just accept what comes with it. And I know that we don't have to do that, you know, life doesn't say that just because we get on the treadmill going in this direction. We have to take it. So that was a one really great realization. Not easy. No. And then when I decided that, after a year, plus of therapy and getting Well, I started playing again. And then I tore my other ACL right after I had decided to go to Santa Clara. So it was about six and a half months before I decided to go to Santa Clara. And so it was a real it was a it was a grind. The second one is harder, because you know what it takes but the second one is then easier, because you know what it takes? Yeah. So there's a little push pull there, which I think for life is also good, you know, you know, I knew I could do it. I understood the process. And I had a great support system. I was willing. I wanted to play soccer. So I was motivated, right? You know, the time wasn't ideal, but it was what it was. So just get on with it. So I, I did a lot of growing up in that time.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah, yeah. And those times make us all grow up those those injuries, those setbacks just as in, in life, you know, you get you get injuries, metaphorical injuries and you get setbacks all the time. And, and you know, it's great to hear these very well said, by the way, great to hear from you about you know what those setbacks mean, as far as like the total, the large trajectory of your life. You mentioned that you ended up back at Santa Clara. Oh, you were on the national team, by the way, in 1988. So you did get back to high level play before he went? Oh, yes.

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah. So I actually in between those two ACLs I had torn part of my meniscus and they fixed it. And then I went, and I played with the national team. And I went into a slide tackle, and the player just barely hit the, the edge of my toe, which turned my foot, which clipped like that just caught my lower leg to turn and my meniscus when again, so that, that was another wonderful, fun thing to be on crutches in China for two weeks. Like that was. That was good old times. So you know, I've learned a lot of hard lessons, which is, again, I think that's really good. I mean, sometimes we find ourselves in the middle of it, like, you know, in the middle of things going, why is this happening? How do I endure through this thing, what what, what's the, what's the key that's gonna unlock the door to finding happiness or finding comfort and, and sometimes it takes longer to find the keys and and I mean, I hope that we all can find the key to those, you know those things in life, but sometimes we have to persevere for a long time.

JOHN MOFFET:

And if you ever speak to any athletes, it doesn't matter the sport, the one of the enduring lessons that all of them have figured out is that it's a slow slog. And it is a lot of hard work. And it's not like rocky with where the music's playing, and you're all excited, and you're training hard, and everything's perfect and making progress every day. It's, it's a lot of grind, and grit.

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah, it is. But you know, I find that this conversation is really interesting for me, because I when I think back on it, I mean, I mean, I had so many iterations of myself that you know, from the start in the late 80s, to 2004, where, you know, I was a world champion, and then cut from the team, like, just just not on the team anymore. And, you know, what did that mean? and What did it look like? And how did it feel and then making my way back to the team and then when I made my way back to the team, they told me it well, you're not going to play the position that you normally play. It's like telling you your favorite if your favorite stroke was breaststroke, breaststroke, well, that's my son. That was my son's favorite. So if your favorite stroke was breaststroke, now you're going to you're going to just be a backstroker you know are you going to do the butterfly and you're like what the hell I don't do that right that's not what I do the best and but then you know, you see that they really think that you can do it and you know you start to believe well if they believe it then I should go for it. So you have a transformation you know you you you morph into something different and then now the next thing you know you're that you're starting on the first ever women's soccer team in the Olympics. And you're playing a totally different position and you play every minute and you know then the next big tournament is the World Cup and you know we're hosting it in these massive stadiums and it's totally when it's this gigantic tournament that is like it's turning the world upside down in terms of how they how people are viewing and consuming women's sports and and now you get to step up to take the final kick and Oh yeah, but by the way, you know you normally would do that with your right foot but the coach just said, Hey, take it with your left foot. And you're too tired to are you so you just do it anyway, and you make it and what I can say is, you know, there that I look back on that and I think none of that is the way I thought it would go. But I was willing to go through it. And so when you say it's this slow kind of slog it is at times really slow. But my gosh, I have to I have to tell you, I remember, I loved every practice again, like I loved going to the locker room. I love Getting my cleats out. And just the feeling of putting my foot in the shoe was just like, tightening it just to the right. tension. And I mean, I loved it all. Like, for me, it was like I wanted it to be forever. No, I didn't, I didn't want practice to be over. I, I mean, I love the games, but the practices to me were like, the awesome art.

JOHN MOFFET:

What passion seriously, I don't I don't think I've ever spoken with an athlete that spoke with such passion about training.

Brandi Chastain:

Well, you know, listen, I let me just say, I really went through, I went through some real personal, I got over a lot of hurdles. And I believed that there was a lot of things that I didn't need to do, because I just naturally somehow, by the grace of whatever you believe in, was really good at soccer. And so the hard work belong to someone else, I'll just come out and do the little things like I can do those things really easily. I don't know why I was, you know, I was given this gift of, you know, good balance and good technique. And I could do most sports. And so I kind of overlooked all the little things that really kind of gave you this edge. And I learned the hard way, like smack you in the face hard way, like, you know, you're you're not going to make it because we don't think that you have good enough work ethic. Or we don't think that you're committed enough because you don't do all the little things that everybody else is doing. And so that was a big wake up call, which was, again, awesome. Because I needed it. You know, I didn't know I needed it. Right? That's I think part of growing is you really, you know, you don't know you needed until you really can have perspective. And then you realize that's true. I didn't need to do that. It's crazy

JOHN MOFFET:

how so many things in life, especially in athletic careers, but in life, you look back upon them, and you're like, maybe there was a reason for that. And maybe I wouldn't be who I am. If that didn't happen, and maybe this wouldn't have happened. And all these fortunate things that you found yourself with is accumulation of all of those victories and all of those stumbles.

Brandi Chastain:

Without a doubt. I mean, I'm, and maybe what I'm hearing, like you and myself say right now is that I'm going to get through parenting. I'm going to, I'm going to, I'm going to make it. Yeah, I think everybody I think everybody needs to give themselves a break and say you're going to make it you're going to you're meant to go through this for some reason. There's no doubt about that. I fully believe it. No doubt, no doubt, no doubt, no doubt. And, and I think if I, here's the part about, about sports that I sometimes wish I had, because now I see what's accessible to athletes. And then sometimes I say, Gosh, I'm really glad I didn't have it, you know, all these extracurricular things, and all these people doing all these one, all this wonderful work, whether it's in mindset, or whether it's in, you know, imagery, or it's in, you know, you know, just technical, you know, trainings and, you know, I had to learn all those things on my own. And so I feel like I'm very confident that I can be resilient and I can learn things. I don't always learn them the easy way. Maybe that's what I'm also.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, so you're certainly resilient. I want to go back and talk to you a little bit about the, the where this whole women's soccer thing began. And I want to I want to ask you about the 1991 World Cup. In China, I believe that was was that was that the first official Women's World Cup?

Brandi Chastain:

The answer is technically, yes or no. Can it be both? Because it wasn't actually called the World Cup It was called the M&Ms Cup. Because FIFA really didn't want to give it a name of the World Cup because that might dilute the World Cup name, because they weren't sure how it was going to go. Because there are women in it. Yeah, because it was I'm going to look it up right now as we're talking. M&M and cup women's soccer. 1991. Yeah, because it was the first time right so we had Yeah, so it was called First FIFA World Championship for women's football for the M&Ms Cup.

JOHN MOFFET:

You're kidding me?

Brandi Chastain:

No. No, because, you know, it was it they were just seeing how well we had kind of a pre World Cup in 1989 I think. And, and it went okay, it went pretty well, you know. And then I said, okay, we'll do this, but we're still gonna call it the women the

World Championship:

the M&Ms cup.

JOHN MOFFET:

So but it wasn't officially the World Cup yet, but let's call it the World Cup for right now. I saw some footage and I heard you tell some stories about that. And, and that is that there was a lot of fan base in China wasn't there?

Brandi Chastain:

It is. There are a lot of people there. Yes.

JOHN MOFFET:

And, but that was very different than what you were experiencing back here in the States at that time. Right.

Brandi Chastain:

Well, we had I think, as a whole women's soccer hadn't been played in front of large. I mean, I don't even I couldn't even tell you what the largest crowd we had played in front of World Cup qualification, which was held in Haiti was in a decent sized stadium but maybe has 10 up to 10,000 people maybe you know, so the stadiums weren't overflowing you know, they weren't 75,000 or 90,000 in China they had these big stadiums and you know what was great about going to China we went there so many we went there so many years in a row for tournament year after year after year is you know, we really got to see China change physically you know, we would we played in old stadiums and in small little villages that were you know, there was dirt roads or not a lot of cars, lots of bicycles, a lot of people walking, maybe a few mopeds and then like as everything started transitioning, it was like high rise buildings, more cars, less bicycles, more mopeds. Like. I mean, it was just I feel like that was kind of it could look back on that timeline of where China was growing and look at women's soccer. Follow it on that pathway.

JOHN MOFFET:

I think the thing that is was especially notable for me, is that that USA one?

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah. Yeah, we did. And

JOHN MOFFET:

Brandi, I had to read that like three times. I'm like, Really? I don't remember. I don't remember a peep of that. Nothing.

Brandi Chastain:

Well, you know, I've been saying this word a lot lately, because of what I think women's soccer has accomplished. And the amount of attention women's soccer has on it right now. I mean, soccer, women's soccer was anonymous. It was anonymous. And that's not to say it was just women's soccer either. So sometimes I catch myself and I take pause, and I think most of soccer was anonymous. Minus Pillay. Right. Right. And the New York cosmos. And you know, I grew up here in San Jose, and I went, I was season ticket holder, since 1978. Nine. And you know, I, I didn't, I didn't know it at the time, maybe because I was, you know, too young to understand. But I thought soccer was amazing. And it was big, because we went to a stadium and it was, it was great. But, you know, outside of the I don't know how many cities it was it was anonymous. Like it wasn't, it wasn't something that was on the front page, and it wasn't making big splashes. So you know, I, I feel that women's soccer now is the antithesis of anonymous. Like, it is like the most powerful, deepest, most untapped? Well, we have. And there's so much for us to do that we can do because we've got people's attention. And we have to use that for the good, really, of the sport of girls, for inclusion for pay equity for for everything, right. It's awesome to be a part of that group.

JOHN MOFFET:

Oh my gosh, I've been so excited to speak with you just to get your reflections on on all of those things, all those aspects of the journey that you've been on three soccer. You You alluded to it a few minutes ago, and that was that in 1995 I believe that four years later, you actually got cut from the team?

Brandi Chastain:

How did you one right after the World Cup? Yeah, Anson Dorrance who was the coach at the time I said this day I really don't know we never he never explained the why part down to really the kind of the nitty gritty and you know, we've since become friends we I was not his favorite he wasn't not my favorite and we we have we have mended our fences, which is nice. Yeah, so I was I was cut from the team after '91 and I didn't go to the '95 World Cup which was really hard. Really hard because when you've been in that environment, and I was only... '95... How old was I? Born in 1968, so I was young.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah.

Brandi Chastain:

27.

JOHN MOFFET:

Oh, right. Yeah.

Brandi Chastain:

Teah. 27 so you know, 27 is like you're, you're writing in the middle of it, you're feeling great and so not to be on that team was really devastating. Watching them then lose in the semi final was devastating. But again, out of really great disappointment or despair comes something really tremendous. And it's another confluence of silver lining, you know, when something bad has happened, how does something good come out of it? And this was another perfect example. You know, I I learned about leadership and, and what does leadership look like and who can be who can carry that torch of leadership and or wear the armband, so to speak. And it just so happened at the time, it was Julie Foudy for me, because the US national team was going on strike against US Soccer, because they were having contract negotiations after the World Cup. And US Soccer wanted to pay the national team the same as always had only you know, we had become world champions. And, you know, there was it needed to be different. And the team stood up and said, Nope, we're not going to accept that. And they said, well, we'll just get the the next group of players to play in the in the Olympics. And that's it. She's awesome. She's like, Well, we've already contacted them, and they also are with us. And then so is the next group, and so is the next group. But at the same time, I have to tell you that I got a call from then the coach that took over right before 95, Tony to Chico. And he said, Hey, we want you to come in and be in camp. Now I've been off the team...

JOHN MOFFET:

This is for '96, pre '96 now?

Brandi Chastain:

This is post '95 World Cup.

JOHN MOFFET:

Okay

Brandi Chastain:

In September of '95. And then November of '95.

JOHN MOFFET:

Got it.

Brandi Chastain:

So the team went on strike and said, no, we won't be going to camp. And we're going to, we're going to figure this out with U.S. soccer, we're going to make this right, we're going to it's not for us, it's not for the 18 to 24 players that are going to be in camp. It's for the future of women's soccer. And so they didn't go to camp. And Tony called me and said, hey, we want to have you in camp. And I immediately called Julian, I said, I'm with you. I'm with you. I believe in what we're doing. I you know, I'm not going to go. And she's like, you better go. You need to go. Because you need to get on this team. And if it means that you have to go We'll do the work here. And you got to go No way. Yeah. And so for me, that was just again, that's just one of those things that happened during my career that I'll never forget. Because she she helped me see like, Listen, leaders can lead by action, they can lead with their voice. And they also lead by just being open and saying, look, you know, it's not only going to be one way, right, there's going to be many ways that this is going to happen. And so the pathway you need to take is you need to go to camp y and you need to, and you need to make the team and I promised Julie that day I said I will be my best you I will make the team. And so, you know, they did their thing. And I went to camp and I had a good camp in September and then I came back in November. And after that November camp we all had meetings with Coach and so I went into the meeting and of course you know you're nervous you don't talk to whether it's your boss or your coach. You're like oh my gosh, you know, like it might be a little different swimming because you you Basically race the clock, right? If you have the time you have the time. It's nobody can dispute that. So. So I'm in the meeting, like, I think I feel like I did my best. Like, I felt like I dominated a camp. And the coach says, Hey, you know, we really think you did a great job. And you know, the relief kind of, Oh, your shoulders feel a little lighter. And he says, But, and we want you on the team. You know, fireworks, Christmas, all the holidays, your birthday, all wrapped up in one. And then he says, but not as forward as a defender. And then you're like, like, what? So basically, throughout me that, you know, we want you on the team, but we're gonna change your position. And this is my gift to everybody who I hope hears this, which is, you know, we have to get away from thinking we only fit into one category. You know, we really have great potential beyond what we think we do. And I learned that because I had a choice in that moment. First, we had choices, right? Am I going to give this a chance? Or I'm going to stand up and say, No, this is what I believe I am. And I'm going to stay here and I'll show you. And but this second one wasn't going to allow me to be on the team, right? So I chose being on the team, I chose changing my position. And then I chose to embrace the opportunity to learn something. And what I quickly learned is that we all have tools that we need, we just didn't know we had one of those SOG type things where it's got like 72 tools in one little thing, right? I had only opened it up to like one tool. And I found out that I had a whole toolbox in this thing. And so all the things I knew about being a forward I used in my position to defend against fours now I'm like, Oh, I see that combo, right and miles away. So it and I decided that I was playing next to Carla overbeck and Christine Lily and they were like the another captain and the most capped player on the planet. Like I if I can't do well, between those two, I probably don't deserve to be here anyway. So I said, What the hell let's let's go. Alright, I'm gonna do it. Wow. Oh, that was a big moment for my the chain that was really like the resurrection of my career.

JOHN MOFFET:

Wow. And like, what a story, what insight what insight into just the way life works. And one of the things that I'm struck by is the seeming parallel between what Julie Foudy did, which is no you you go play because I want you on that team. So that was her using her toolbox. Like, I want brandy on my team. And this is the way I do it. But yeah, I'm going to hold the course. And then your coach, who really kind of went about the same sort of leadership style, which at first you think is kind of selfless, which maybe it is first, but it was visionary.

Brandi Chastain:

Well, and there was, yeah, for sure. I believe it was visionary. Because we started to change the way we were going, we were going to play which I think was really stepping outside of the norm for what us women's soccer had been doing which was just being a destructive man, man marking back three players just blowing things up. And then the fallout would be like, okay, we just clean it up as fast as we could. And we wanted to go away from that, and that was different. And so I mean, I think our national teams are where they are because of that change. No doubt.

JOHN MOFFET:

And that change had success right away. I mean, I mean, you won gold. Your team won gold in 1996. Atlanta games, hometown favorites.

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah, that was that was something that honestly, the Olympics or, I mean, playing in the World Cup as a soccer player is like the ultimate, ultimate tournament because it's specifically for soccer. Being a part of the Olympics, as you know, is just such an amazing array of people and incredible talent. Like all just squeezed into this one place and you're like, I mean, I remember you know, soccer never got to really stay at the village so when we came for opening ceremonies that was the first time you know, we we got to see it and, you know, just like our heads were just like spinning about. There's a seven foot basketball guy standing next to a four foot eight gymnast and like everything in between, and oh my god. Like we were like, I honestly felt like a spectator. in that environment, it was so amazing. And you know, the different languages and the flags and the colors, and everything was just incredible. And

JOHN MOFFET:

I think that that is not only magic for the athletes that all of them come back with that experience, a similar experience. But it seems also for the people who watch it for the world who watch it, that it's his to see the world come together and compete for something that's bigger than, you know, perhaps politics. And, and they all come together, and they watch these kids and their dreams, like unfolding or not unfolding right before their eyes. And there's something incredibly magical about that, I think on both ends for the athletes. And some of the life lessons that you learn from the Olympics as an athlete are very painful. But I think the viewers really appreciate it as well.

Brandi Chastain:

Well, I think we all go through kind of the education of what the, the Olympic spirit is, and it's to be your best in the moment that you're asked to compete. And sometimes it works out and other times, it doesn't. I mean, we all go there with the same objective, which is to be our best and, and if our best. If we are on our best, then we can potentially win a gold medal. But doesn't always mean that you're going to, you know, you can still do your best and not win that. But I really love the spirit of the competition of the right now of the immediate. And really the I believe what I experienced was that we could cheer for each other. Like we all understood what it was to get there. As you've you've already shared, like, you know, the journey to the point is really, it. It's intense. It's so many things, right? It's hard to put in just a few words, what it what it means. And so I think there is this camaraderie, I felt there was a lot of camaraderie, you know, whether it was in your own team USA or USA house, or if it was just to spectate on other athletes and just to applaud great effort and great talent. And I think that's what I loved about Olympics in 1980 when I watched the men's hockey team win the gold medal in Lake Placid, I didn't know anything about hockey. I didn't. I was from California, the San Jose Sharks didn't exist at that time. And, but when I saw Mike Eruzione, oni step up onto the podium, and with that big American flag, and he was winning, then he called his teammates up. And I thought to myself, I want to do that. Like, I have no idea what that was, but that there was this rush of this, like, togetherness, you know, and I felt that in the village like, again, it didn't matter where the athletes were from, I was just like, we are in this thing together. We're fighting this fight about, you know, just competing to be our best. It doesn't matter what flag we we fly. It really doesn't. I felt there was a great camaraderie and a great competitiveness about it.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yet another magic of sports.

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah.

JOHN MOFFET:

Really. Do you think do you think and in some ways, Atlanta 1996 was kind of a primer? Was an effective lead up for what was going to happen three years later, which was the World Cup being hosted by the United States in 1999?

Brandi Chastain:

I'm into the yes and no answers today?

JOHN MOFFET:

No, it's fine.

Brandi Chastain:

Sorry about that, John! I think that's because, well, I think it's because I'll tell you why. Because the no part is, we had I think 30 seconds of live action for women's soccer on TV.

JOHN MOFFET:

Really?

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah. So no, in that way, there wasn't this, you know, ability to watch. And yes, in that people came to the stadium, and they love women's soccer. And I mean, not a person, it didn't feel like a person left their seats, nor did they leave the seat once the game was over. And then the medal ceremony was about to happen and then just like the celebration of that moment to hear your anthem was I think that was definitely this uptick and this surge of like, wow, we just saw something great. So no, in terms of it didn't get broadcast to everybody live. They didn't see the whole game. I wish they had because it was you know, again against China. Really competitive, you know, intense game. And so yes, in that we had something really great and the fans knew it.

JOHN MOFFET:

Mm hmm.

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yet that seems to me like if you were reduced to a 30 second promo then or a 30 second like highlight reel, right, which is sounds like you were that as far as the media was concerned, you were still a little obscure sport. But in reality, reality you might not actually have been by virtue of 10s x 10s of 1000s of people who watched and enjoyed you playing in person in Atlanta.

Brandi Chastain:

Right. Yeah, we went back. seven of us. I think it was seven. Myself. Tish Venturini Christina Lily, Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy. Briana Scurry, Michelle, didn't make it... and make it to the day. And we sat in the stadium, and they put on the game on the big screen. It was 25 years. Wow. It's been now. And it was amazing. I don't think and I think most of us said we've never seen a replay of that game. And it was incredible to watch it together in on that field.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah, yeah. Well

Brandi Chastain:

just think and to think about that Olympics. I don't know if you remember. But that Olympics had gymnastics, basketball, softball, swimming. I mean, it was like a blow up of women's sports it was. And so I think that also was a real big. That was the undercurrent to '99 in my opinion.

JOHN MOFFET:

So in 1999, in the lead up, you were you're obviously selected for that team. So that wasn't an issue. But they were planning on filling these giant NFL stadiums. But like, how many people did you get to a normal? USA women's soccer team? on you know, just in the previous three years? I mean, how were you able to fill up? I don't know.

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah, no, it's a great, you know, again, it's a great question. And a great, I think it's a great story. Because you're right, like, you're gonna say, do the math, like, what's the Delta on this? Because how are you going to say you're going to fill 75,000 seats of China versus Nigeria, or Sweden versus Japan? You know, and, but let's just take the US games specifically. And you say like, Okay, well, you get 15,000 or 20,000? Maybe, right? That's still that's a third of what you need to fill the stadium. With, here's one thing we know Americans love, a good competition. You know, and when your team is at the top, we're going to go you love that we're gonna go we're gonna buy a ticket to that. That's awesome. So I love that spirit, because we do we get behind things like that. So, you know, I think what happened was the World Cup committee, the Women's World Cup committee, led by Darla messing, and Donna de Verona, right? Yeah, who was a former Olympic swimmer, you know, they these women were relentless. You know, they were like, no, we're not going to do it in some small little rinky dink small college town up in the northeast, it would be lovely, but that's not what we're doing. We're, this is going to be a big turn, this is the World Cup. And then they just went for it. And so I think with that kind of leadership, again, we talked about leadership, you know, when the leadership believes and the leadership is like, we're not, we're not going to shrink to this, then, you know, things start happening. But we would do we would do like two faces, you know, the character to face from like the bat, it's like, say something over here and then go, we'd be like, yeah, we're gonna get 75,000 people to come to the stadium. Yeah, no problem. Oh, my God, how are we going to get to the stadium? Are we really going to do it? We'd be like, I don't know. But we're gonna kiss as many babies and you know, shake hands and we're gonna give away free. I mean, we gave away clinics to us fields. I mean, we we bartered ourselves to the end of the earth. And we pulled it off.

JOHN MOFFET:

Absolutely. I was I was I was watching some some videotape of you and your team on the bus on the I believe it was to the first venue. And, and you're stuck in a traffic jam. You're like, Oh, no, what's this traffic jam. And he did it took me a little while to realize Wait a second. And it was clueless. It was like a field of dreams. The lineup of cars.

Brandi Chastain:

Oh my gosh, and we and it was not just that it was a traffic jam. It was still slow and we had a plan. escort. And we're like, what is what is the big hold up? And then we're like, oh my god, they're coming to the World Cup.

JOHN MOFFET:

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Brandi Chastain:

You're coming to see the people that are in this bus right now. Like it was honestly we were taking pictures out the out of the windows of the bus. I mean, not figuratively, not literally. But we were taking pictures of the people and having tailgates and they were taking pictures of the bus. Like it was incredible. Like everybody was experiencing something amazing that day.

JOHN MOFFET:

And something really for the first time and so many ways for for both fans and the teams competing.

Brandi Chastain:

Right, right. Yeah, it was an even I mean, I'll tell you Kristine Lilly was I won't forget this either because she's a her family had been New York Jets. season ticket holders for I don't know, years and years ever since she could remember. And so we got to the stadium. And we were in the Jets locker room. No way and yeah, and she got to sit in Wayne Corbett's locker. And she was just like, this is the best thing that's ever like this is just amazing. And and now to think you know, players would be thinking Kristine Lilly was in this locker. Like I'm sitting in Christine. Lily's locker.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah.

Brandi Chastain:

Like I'm wearing Christina. Alex Morgan is wearing Christine Lily's jersey number.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well and Brandi Chastain...

Brandi Chastain:

Well, yeah, maybe so Brandi Chastain, but like, you know what I mean, you're like that's just

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah, it's pretty it's pretty cool the trajectory and yet another million reasons that I wanted to chat with you about this. Well, it's no secret to history that the 1999 World Cup victory but I would love you to take me back to July 10, 1999. The Rose Bowl which is a gigantic stadium

Brandi Chastain:

Yes, it is. And and is an it's a marvel.

JOHN MOFFET:

It it is you go to I mean, I you go to football games. I've only been to football games there. I've been to concerts there too. It's just huge. 90 something 1000 people were there.

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah. 90,000 plus people. And it's an expansive stadium. It's it's you know, when you think about it is literally this bowl then it kind of just kind of comes out and then it starts to go up. But it's just it's it's expansive. It's it's different than modern day stadiums where they feel like they're kind of more on top of you than they are like, this one was just like a round you in this mass of humanity. Yeah. Right. And, and, you know, that day was really it was an amazing day, for all the reasons we all know, you know, because of the outcome. But I think just leading up to that, getting to that point, you know, I think once the tournament started, you know, there was this. Well, prior to the tournament starting there was this kind of underlying current of if the US doesn't do well, meaning, aka win the World Cup. Then the future of women's soccer, and girls soccer and maybe women's soccer globally. We'll basically just go right? Because if we can't do it here Where are we going to do? You know, where? Where else? Is there a place in the world where they're going to embrace women in sports where you know, there's going to be this big opportunity, like, you have to do it. So there was, you know, there was a little bit of that tension that was being hit, you know, hit back and forth. And, you know, we were we were in not crisis management, but we were kind of in like, emotional management, right? How do we, how do we deal with the emotions we're having about the gravity of this tournament, and then now making it to the final, and what, what the potential is in the future. And so, you know, we made it make it to the finals. So that's a huge relief for me, especially considering in the quarterfinal. I scored an own goal. And we went down to Germany, one, zero. And, you know, that, to me is another one of those amazing life moments, john, really, that, you know, you don't wish it on anybody, and you don't see it coming. And then it happens. And it could have been the worst thing, but turned into the best thing. Because next thing, you know, you have a teammate, basically just put their arm around you and say, don't worry about it. Like, we're moving on. Let's go, and you're going to help us win. And, you know, because I think because of the rocky road that I had, I was like, Okay, let's do this, because I knew I'd fallen down so many times, that the only answer was to get up. And so now we find ourselves in this final moment, and we're getting to the stadium, and you're just having all these amazing, you know, feelings and how great it's going to be. And we're going to get out onto the field and we're going to get into the locker room, we're going to get our stuff on, we're going to go out into the field, and we're going to have a great warm up. Only that didn't happen. Because the game before us was a tie and was going into penalty kicks, and we couldn't get onto the field. So here you are in the biggest game of your life, and you don't even get to warm up on your way. Yeah. And so you know, the Rose Bowl to me is just this incredible stadium. Obviously, it's a it's an American icon when it comes to stadiums, and you know, some of the biggest sporting events in the history of sports in America have happened there. But little did people know that on this greatest day of women's soccer history, we didn't even get onto the field. And that stadium was an old stadium. And it was like dripping water and this musty spent smell and it was dark. And it was dank. And it was like now we're running in a in a locker room that was too small for the 24 of us. And so then we would run inside and up and down the tunnel and kick the ball against the wall. And, you know, China had to do the same thing. So it's not like we were doing it alone. But, you know, it just didn't start the way that you envision it. Yeah, you know, I'm sure in your head as a swimmer, you probably envision your race many, many times before it happens. This was nothing like that. Nothing, you know,

JOHN MOFFET:

and and when you actually went out to take the pitch, you mentioned that 90 plus 1000 people are there, I mean, has to just be I mean, thrilling is not it's just not even a good, good enough word to describe it.

Brandi Chastain:

I mean, it makes me kind of get a little emotional, but I mean, honestly, it's like it takes your breath away. It just like you go from this darkness and out into the light. And it's like every sense is just like slammed with you know, intensity, you know, you feel it on your skin and you just hear your ears hear it. And it's like it's pounding in your heart and your blood is just like coursing through your veins. Like the adrenaline is just through the roof. And you know, you had to be able to manage that. That is like that was one of the, I think, greatest obstacles. In a final Is that right? Because now it's upon you. And how are you going to manage your emotions? Thank goodness for Dr. Coleen hacker. You know, we had started working with her during the Olympics. And I think that really helped us because to be able to manage emotions under those conditions is so critical.

JOHN MOFFET:

She was a sports psychologist, then.

Brandi Chastain:

Yes, she was.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, and it was hot.

Brandi Chastain:

Oh, that's an understatement.

JOHN MOFFET:

Right?

Brandi Chastain:

It was damn hot. It was I mean it was. I think the thermometer was that it could have been easily 115 degrees.

JOHN MOFFET:

Unbelievable. And there's all those people and it's a bowl and

Brandi Chastain:

I can't tell you, this is hilarious. This is one of my favorite stories when people say this, you know, they it could be from any walk of life. I was at that game and '99. Oh my god, that's so awesome. Thank you so much for being there. I mean, tell me about what it was like being as a fan in that stadium there like, "it was so hot." And then and then the next thing they usually say is, "and they ran out of water." And I'm like, Yeah, I know I didn't get water either. It was like,

JOHN MOFFET:

No way!

Brandi Chastain:

You know, because you're playing the game you know. Now, if it's hot, they have a you know, they call it a hydration break and you stop and you get some water and make sure everybody's safe. And I mean, I was like, I know we didn't get to drink water either. It was I honestly, I thought my feet had melted to my cleats. It was so damn hot. It was so hot.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, in the game itself, I went and revisited it. I saw it at the time. But I went and revisited it. It basically was a scoreless game, back and forth. It's kind of a seesaw. And a real, like just a real fight back and forth. Right?

Brandi Chastain:

It. The best way I describe it is this was two teams that would that were bending, but they just wouldn't break. There was just no break. And and we pushed and we pushed and they pushed and they push, and no one was willing to give in. And that's why it ended up being you know, going to penalty kicks because it was just the will of both of those teams was so tremendous. It really was phenomenal.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, it was phenomenal to be able to revisit it. But those those the penalty kicks were just like that's what seared into everybody's memory and and just to take it through. I mean, maybe you're better to explain it. But when you tie in regulation, and then you're still tied in overtime, then it goes to penalties. And each team alternates kicking on the goal. And they get five shots on goal. And whoever ends up the best of those five shots ends up winning the game. That's correct. So it went back and forth for the first two, right? The Chinese the Americans, you all you too. And then the third shot from China. I just went and watch this again today. And that saved from Briana, Briana Scurry right?

Brandi Chastain:

Yep. All right, Briana Scurry

JOHN MOFFET:

Briana Scurry. The thing that I'd never noticed before, I didn't remember, is she charged at the kicker? Like she she I mean I just really think she just freaked her out or so I don't know she charged at the kicker and was just able to cut it right off before it got by her.

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah, it you know, I think there's a big discussion over that penalty kick because and I think Briana was asked after like, you know, did you come off the line you know, because there I think there was a loose interpretation of what the goalkeeper could or could not do at that time. Now it's very highly enforced and the goalkeeper cannot come off the line they may move but they have to go laterally but stay on the line. And and yeah, she took she she did what goalkeepers should do when they go to make a say which is she was an inch she intersected the pathway of the ball into the goal. Instead of waiting for it to come here and go laterally she made she bisected that line and made it amazing safe, amazing safe and her job is not to referee the game Her job is just to make a safe and she did and it was incredible. You know that's that was the the necessary piece to allow my final kick to be the decider.

JOHN MOFFET:

The fifth and final kick for Team USA. I just I have a couple of questions just on the surface. It's like why were you first of all chosen as the fifth kicker?

Brandi Chastain:

Nerves of steel baby, what do you mean?

JOHN MOFFET:

Do you know?

Brandi Chastain:

Well, no, I'll tell you during the run of play, and if there was ever a penalty kick called there had already been decided who would be the people who would take them if they were in the game. So Michelle Akers, Michelle Akers would be one myself would be another. I just, I don't know. I don't know if it's I love pressure. I don't know if it's I just felt very comfortable. I thought, you know, it's a great opportunity to do the thing that you've been, you know, playing your, your whole life and just a great challenge. Yeah. So I had I had, I had been on the shortlist, Michelle and I, or if there was a penalty kick during the run a play in that game that we would take it. And it turned out that Michelle was now off the field she had gone out during the, the end The end of regulation. And she and Brianne collided, and it knocked Michelle out of the game. And so it seemed natural that I would take a penalty, because in the run of a play, I would take one only our assistant coach Lauren gray came up to me and said, Hey, do you want to take a penalty kick? And I was like, well, that's kind of weird, because I would have taken one in the game. And I but I immediately said, Yes, of course I want. I would like to take one. She's like, Okay, perfect. So then a couple minutes later, while we're still kind of cooling down, Tony came over to me and he said, okay, like, it kind of puts his hand on my shoulder kind of thing and said, like, okay, you're gonna take a penalty kick? And I said, Yes, Lauren, and I already talked about it, no problem. He goes, Okay, great, you're going to take it with your left foot, and then he just like ran away really fast. And, you know, I didn't really think about it. But now I think about it after the fact, because I've had this discussion many, many times. I think I was just too exhausted, to contemplate what what he was saying to me. You know, all of our practices were open to the public, China could have come to all of our practices, they could have been watching everything we've been doing, which I think is really spectacular, to be honest with you, you know, I think practices should be open to the public, I think people should be allowed to see these teams play, and to see what it's like to go through these workouts and to be a part of this process. Because that's really the, the meat and potatoes to what happens, but everything so secretive now you can't get into anything. But we that was open. And so I had actually missed a penalty kick earlier in the year, right footed against China, and we ended up losing the game. And so I think that was one reason Tony asked me to take it with my left foot. And to me, I think the greater underlying theme of that ask was or wasn't really an ask, it was just he told me was that he knew I could do it. And I think when you have that kind of trust, and you have that kind of backing, you can do anything. And Tony was really an incredible coach for me as an individual, because he just gave me a lot of confidence. And he believed that I was good enough to, to do that, which I don't know, if many coaches would have the guts to tell somebody to, you know, shoot the ball with their other hand, you know, at the most critical time. So again, you know, do the backstroke instead of the rest of breaststroke. So,

JOHN MOFFET:

Wow, that that is just I mean, that's a crazy story. It's like, I know, you've obviously kicked it with your left. It's just, I it's kind of mind boggling to me. And obviously it's also empowering when a coach trusts you that much.

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah, well, I mean, no, I miss Tony a lot. You know, and, you know, he did my induction speech for the Hall of Fame. And, you know, his, his words are always very powerful for me, you know, just, you know, he he, he let me know that I could, I could, I could be I would be on his team and that, you know, it didn't matter whether I felt I could do the position or not that he believed that I could. And I think that's why sports is so powerful. I think that's why coaching a coach is so such an incredible position and important position. Yeah, that that day was, that was an amazing few seconds events that when you know, I hit that ball, and it went into the net, and then it became just incredible in that chaos of that celebration. And the team coming together and that 90,000 plus people just rising up and cheering it was spectacular.

JOHN MOFFET:

It was it was so spectacular. And then of course your spontaneous celebration, unforgettable iconic. celebration, is this. This is just happen. Was this just in the throes of of celebration that had happened. I mean, I know the men do it all the time.

Brandi Chastain:

But what do you feel When you win a race Oh, he's what do you what do you do? What do you do with those emotions? He slapped the water? Yeah, throw your hands into the air. You don't you don't think about it? Absolutely. You just feel it. And I have no idea. I've never done that before. I'd never consciously like, thought about doing that before. Yeah, I think men's in men's sports that it happens, but I mean in men's soccer, but I never really thought about like, Oh, I hope I get a chance. So I can do that. Yeah. I mean, I there was, in my opinion, there was no script that had me taking a final penalty kick in US winning the World Cup that was not in the script. It was a nobody script. No, it was nobody script. The script, said Mia Hamm would score the winning goal because she was the best. She was the best in the leading goal scorer in the world. He would score a goal.

JOHN MOFFET:

Interesting that you said that there's no script because I believe I interviewed Donna de verano on another episode. And she said basically the same thing that nobody knew that this would happen. But it no it did. And it changed the world. It changed women's sports.

Brandi Chastain:

Don't make me cry.

JOHN MOFFET:

But crazy. Yeah, yeah, it is crazy. I mean, you're on Newsweek, time, Sports Illustrated everywhere. It's to this day, it's still an iconic image of of what women can do in sports and changing the world. You know, I was struck by something that I saw that. And I believe it was Carli Lloyd. She actually said that she watched. She was she watched the World Cup in person as a little girl, and, you know, countless of those other women who were on 2019 obviously watched that World Cup and that magic that unfolded that day. I mean, you're you've created quite a legacy.

Brandi Chastain:

I think WE did.

JOHN MOFFET:

I'm sorry, you and your team.

Brandi Chastain:

Yeah, I think we did. Again, I think it was one of those unintentional circumstances where I think we knew we were you know, we, we had a, we had some business to take care of, right. This is a was a very highly motivated, intense group. Very talented. And, again, I think the first word we talked about during this conversation was this love, right? Like, I think we had this intense love for the game and for each other, and for making it fun, and exciting. And you know, we weren't, we were fearless. It was incredible that a group of women could come, who somehow came from all different places, all different people came together with the same type of mentality like, we are going to do this thing. And we are we're not going to apologize for being brave and, and bold. And believing in this, you know, what could happen? And, you know, I said, I don't I don't necessarily know, if we could really say that. This was intentional, but I think there was a lot of there was a lot of investment in the outcome going as it did.

JOHN MOFFET:

It's it is it is truly remarkable. And in so many ways that you and your team were fighting for, you know, getting, getting women sports, and girls sports, and girls soccer on the map, the women of 2019 in the current national team. They're fighting basically very similar battle, but this this one, same,

Brandi Chastain:

Same.

JOHN MOFFET:

Same battle.

Brandi Chastain:

It's the same battle, same conversation, it's been going on for 30 years. It's exhaustive.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah, I bet. And this one has to do with equal pay which I know that I know that you you alluded to that are you know, equal treatment before but I mean, it's really come to it's really come to the forefront that the women the women's team is the one that everybody watches it's one that I watch.

Brandi Chastain:

Well, I think there's great enjoyment for watching both of them, you know, men's and women's soccer. And I think what this team has been, you know, yelling from the mountaintops is and what I think most women have been battling in business. You know, if you're an engineer or you should be paid the same thing you do the same job. Why is why is your gender the barrier to being paid equally shouldn't be. And, you know, this conversation has been happening for too long. You know, I think there's a lot of to be debated about how technology has influenced or inundated our lives, you know, with social media and the immediacy of news and, you know, are things real, how, you know, a lot of negative chatter, how, you know how things how people can be influenced very easily in negative ways. But the good thing about technology in this conversation is that nobody can be it, nobody gets to go quiet anymore. Nobody gets to be hidden anymore. It's, you know, everybody knows about equal pay, everybody knows that it needs to be changed. And because of that, allies have come out, you know, whether that be professional male players, coaches, in different managers and presidents of companies, you know, I use visa as an example, because they have been a sponsor of Olympics, and they've been a sponsor of US Soccer, and they have proudly stood up and said, We want to sponsor soccer. And, but we want it to be equal. And, you know, US Soccer said, Well, we deal with the money the way we deal with it. And they said, well, then you won't be dealing with our money. And US Soccer finally came around to say, okay, it will be a 50/50 split, which it had never been before. And it could have been, it could have been any sponsor wanting to sponsor women's soccer. But the answer was always No, you're sponsoring all of US soccer. But 70% of the money was going to men and 30% was going to women. And so that doesn't happen anymore. It doesn't work like that. Right. So that is a brave new world. But we still have to march on and we still have to have loud voices, and it still needs to the needle still needs to be moved. And so it's an exhaustive, exhaustive conversation.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah, I can, I can tell that you've had it many, many times and have talked about it and thought about it for a long, long time. So I appreciate you giving, giving us your thoughts on that. You know, getting here toward the end, you've stayed very involved in soccer. And you started coaching. What was about five, six, something years ago?

Brandi Chastain:

I know I've been coaching for a little longer than that, but like, you know, technically Yes, like all in coaching. So yes, Bellarmine has been now seven seasons and

JOHN MOFFET:

I see you're wearing a Bellarmine shirt.

Brandi Chastain:

I am, I went out was with the boys today. So that was nice.

JOHN MOFFET:

Well, well, and you know, I just found it's interesting parallel. You live in San Jose still. Right? Or you live in the Bay, you live in the South Bay,

Brandi Chastain:

I live in San Jose

JOHN MOFFET:

San Jose. And, and I think it's interesting that you went and now you're coaching with Bellarmine college prep, which is one of my dearest friends and teammates Pablo Morales went to that school. And, you know, it's it's basically the Boys High School equivalent to Archbishop Mitty. I mean, they're just correct Crosstown boys and boys and girls school. Is that is that? Is there some intention in that you think? Or is it just one more thing that just happen to fall that way?

Brandi Chastain:

I think the universe loves to set me up in lots of fun ways. I again, you know, I think things don't happen by accident. You know, I happen to live a mile away from the campus. And when I had my young son, Jaden, I used to take him on walks, and we would go pass the soccer field. And it just so happens that Bellarmine is split by a street, but the street has to go up and over because it goes over a railroad track. So when you get up, you can see down onto the soccer field, and I will kind of Daydream and you know, look at it and think I want to be out there. And I also wanted to have a place to bring Jaden where there was boys. And so I went to volunteer and I was met quite politely. He was met quite politely. And they you know, I said, Hey, I'm, I'm interested, if I'm interested in volunteering, if you have a space, and they said, well, we're getting ready to go on a tournament. This was like in the late part of the year, we're going on a tournament and we'll be back and when we get back, let's kind of talk about the details. But in the meantime, in the meantime, go to the main office and you have to do some tests, fingerprints and blah blah. That's it. Okay. comes around, excuse me, it's new. It's the new year. And I don't hear anything back. So I decided to go back out there and, and I was like, Hey, I just want to check in, I got all the tests done, and everything's good to go. And he's like, yeah, you know, it's just not gonna happen. It's not gonna work. I was like, oh, bummer. That's too bad. Okay, no, so I kind of went away a little dejected. Like, I'm a volunteer, like, well, who turns away volunteers? Like, it was weird. So I said, Okay, fine. And I think it was then like a year or two after that. I'm in my local coffee shop. And a guy walks in, and he's gone on a woman soccer shirt, which you don't see very often, right? And it was for this local junior college Kenyatta college. And I said, Oh, I said, Women's Soccer is like, yeah, I said, Do you or what do you do? And he's like, Oh, I coach there, said, but I just became the head coach at Bellarmine. I was like, Oh, that's neat. I said, I tried to volunteer there a few years ago. And he goes, Well, do you want to be my assistant? I mean, literally, I just met, walked in, and we, you know, and I said, Well, let me you know, go back to my family, let's have a conversation about it. And I did, I was like, Yeah, I do. And it's been awesome. And yeah, to your question about, you know, here, you're getting into a place that was kind of a rival of where you came from. And I think it's a perfect example of what life offers us, right? We come from a certain place, we have our certain feelings about things, we, we, we have a culture, and you know, we have kind of this conflict with other people. And, you know, sometimes it's a positive competitiveness. And other times, it's not as positive as it could be. And we just don't really take the time to get to know each other. And for me, you know, I couldn't have gone development, you know, it was an all boys, it's an all boys. And I never played against Bellarmine. So I never had any issues about it. I had great friends that went there. And so I never kind of had that kind of weird feeling. But a few of the boys would love to give me a hard time if something didn't go right, or blah, blah, blah, oh, my god, they're so bad, or like, you know, blah, blah, you know, whatever they would say, and I would just nod my head and be like, Yeah, but I would just do one or two things on the soccer field, to get their attention. And they'd be like, Alright, respect, coach, respect, you know, like, we got you, okay, we see you. And pretty soon it was, you know, I know, I play middie. And they're a rival of mine. And I love playing them, because I know they're going to bring a great competitiveness to the game. And, you know, we have to respect them for what they do. And we're going to earn their respect for what we do. And it will be positive and doesn't get a little edgy. Totally, of course, yeah, it gets edgy at times, which is awesome. It's mostly what it should be exposed to as competition. Yeah. And so it's fun. I love it.

JOHN MOFFET:

That's awesome. Well, going, going back to your roots, and also giving back and imparting the wisdom that you've learned along the way to the next generation is something that you have done. I think quite intentionally throughout your career, which is like you were trying to be an exempt you and your teammates, we're trying to be examples for the young girls what they could be,

Brandi Chastain:

You know what I think this women's national team that the national teams that I got to play on, were believers, they were believers, that everybody will mattered, and that that we couldn't have opened our arms, any wire to in safe, please come in. Because I think when you come from the starting block of nobody knows what you're doing, nobody knows who you are, you're basically doing your own thing in this little corner over here. And when it started to grow, you know, I think we took care of it in a way that only pioneers or you know, start startups can because they understand the grind of not having something right. And so there was this general love of the little things and every time a new player would come in, it didn't matter if they were 17 years old, or 25 years old, it was like get in here. Because you're going to make you're you're going to be a part of making our team great. And so we need to, even if you're competing, you're competing for my position. You're still going to be embraced in this environment because we need all of us to be successful. And I think that all little girls when they came to this in environment, they felt that like you matter, you're going to make this successful, you need to feel that you belong here. And that was critical.

JOHN MOFFET:

Yeah. I shared a little bit with you. But this whole topic is very close to my heart. My wife was a division one athlete. My daughter, as I told you is a division one athlete. And there are a lot of female athletes in my family, some of which are current division one athletes, some of them are nationally ranked competitors. And I just texted them and said, Hey, I'm, I'm interviewing Brandi Chastain. Is there anything? Any questions that you would have? And I was able to sit with my daughter who's home for the summer. And we watched this is football. And and on that episode, that is you and the Japanese player. And, and my daughter was just riveted because she was born in 1999. She was born in the year for the World Cup. Like so she doesn't remember it. Yeah. And and I finished up and she was kind of, she's kind of quiet. And and I said, Emma, do you have any questions? And for you know, for me to ask brandy goes, she and she said something so poignant. I don't have any questions, but tell her that she's really cool.

Brandi Chastain:

Oh, that's so touching. That is so touching. You know. I think every young woman, like your daughter, is my inspiration. Honestly, you know, being that little girl, where, you know, not many girls in the neighborhood were playing. And you know, I go to the soccer matches at the earthquakes. And I'd asked my parents, can I please wait to try and get an autograph? You know, they were so patient, and they would allow me to do that. And sometimes I get one, and sometimes I wouldn't. And, you know, I remember how important that was to me. And now it's like, it's, it's as important and even more so important that if I ever have an opportunity, you know, whether that's I get something in the mail, which is daily, you know, if somebody hand writes me a note, I hand write a note back. You know, somebody asked for an autograph? Absolutely, they're gonna get it. And because I was that kid, you know, I was a kid. And these, those athletes matter to me. And so tell your daughter, we're in it together. I we're in it together.

JOHN MOFFET:

I definitely will. And Brandi I think you're pretty dang cool myself. And I, I also appreciated that you return my text. And, and you agreed to do this, because it's been such a treat, to chat with you until to learn a little bit more about your life's journey. And thank you for sharing your heartfelt stories and, and your words do continue to inspire.

Brandi Chastain:

Well, I thank you very much for the opportunity to put a smile on my face. And remember my these were just not my teammates. They were my sisters. And they were the biggest support system. I mean, we will we went through so many life moments. We graduated high school, we graduated college, we got married, we had deaths in the family, we had children. You know, we got retired, we retired. You know, we've done everything together. And that's you know, that's the beauty of sports it It allows us to learn lessons and to grow up together. So thank you, john.

JOHN MOFFET:

Thanks, Brandi. When I asked Brandi to give me a quote that inspires her, she told me that her mother was a great influence on her life. And growing up, she would tell her "your pathway won't look like anybody else's but yours. So go out there and find your yes." I'm John Moffet. And I'm so glad you joined Brandi and me for our revealing conversation about her life and love for soccer. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a minute to give us your five star review and tell a friend. Until next week. Be well everyone!

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Brandi Chastain Profile Photo

Brandi Chastain

Two-Time FIFA World Cup Champion, Three-Time Olympic Medalist in Soccer