Where Are They Now: Julie Foudy

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This series was created to put a focus on the legends of the women’s game. We will be looking at the people that consistently come up in conversations about the “Greatest of All Time” and why we categorize them as such. Additionally, we’ll be looking at the impact they’ve made in the game since retiring from professional play.

“Foudy is our queen!” – A cry heard throughout the USWNT fandom after Julie Foudy says something we all agree with.

Julie Foudy is one of the best-known names of the 99ers, the winners of the 1999 World Cup in front of 90,000+ fans in L.A. A member of the USWNT for 16 years, Foudy rose to co-captain them from 1991-1999 and was the sole captain from 2000 until 2004, when she retired. In the so-called “Golden Era of Women’s Soccer”, Foudy was a key to their on-field success. She was an extremely smart and extremely skilled player who could read the field like few others.

Her leadership and her intelligence have served her well as she has taken on the world after retiring from professional play. She started the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy to teach young girls confidence and leadership skills on and off the field. This is an area where Foudy has excelled in her own life, both as the captain of the USWNT and in her professional career as a sports journalist.

Foudy has carved out a name for herself in journalism by covering numerous major events, including the 2011 and 2015 Women’s World Cup for ESPN and the 2008 Olympics for NBC. She provides color commentary for ESPN’s coverage of USWNT matches, bringing a breath of fresh air to those who wish for a better class of commentary on women’s games. She also posts opinion pieces and personal interest stories, bringing fans in to see the world of women’s soccer players more intimately. She has produced films with ESPN about the 99ers and about the issues with crumb rubber playing fields.

Why We Like Listening to Her

Julie Foudy is probably the number one example of someone who says what I’m thinking, just after I think of it. Watching the ESPN matches, I find myself making comments that she echoes minutes later on screen. Not only does this make me feel smart, it decreases my ire at the general state of commentary on USWNT matches considerably.

Foudy isn’t immune from the party line (by the way, did you know that Lindsey Horan skipped college to go pro?); it’s clear she has the script from the networks and from USSF, but the difference is she doesn’t always follow it. Foudy came out strongly on the side of the players who protested the use of turf fields in the 2015 World Cup, after researching the issue in depth. Her documentary for ESPN films highlights the scientific data as well as the inequity in the way the issue was dealt with by FIFA.

Foudy isn’t concerned with making USSF happy with her social media presence or catering to their ideas of what should or shouldn’t be reported (with a few exceptions). Her support of the Equal Play, Equal Pay movement and her unashamed opinions on the unequal treatment of women in soccer around the world have marked her as a champion of female players. This makes sense, as Foudy spent much of her time as a leader with the USWNT battling USSF for better pay (or any pay) and better support for the women’s team.

What I love the most about Julie Foudy is that she is intelligent—she went to Stanford, for heaven’s sake! She thinks through the issues, takes a stand on them, and rarely falters, even when her opinions are not popular. She carved out a professional career in sports journalism years before it was fully (or, at least, widely) accepted. She set out to be a role model for young girls as a player, and she has done an admirable job so far.

If you want to check out more about Julie Foudy, here are some resources I highly recommend:

2004 Send-Off Game for Foudy, Hamm, and Fawcett

Turf Wars

The 99ers

Julie Foudy Sports Leadership Academy

One thought on “Where Are They Now: Julie Foudy

  1. Nice piece. It had a good balance. I like that you mentioned times where she has NOT followed the party line. Her tweet that re: Solo referencing ‘The house that we built,’ got her a lot of flack. I don’t think that’s something that should be all on her, though. I know a few others have already written about the issue of conformity & woso, but I’d love Backline to share their thoughts, too. How much do you see Solo’s suspension as TPTB pushing conformity?

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