Cindy Parlow is a three-time Olympian and two-time World Cup participant for the US Women's National Soccer Team. We had a chance to sit down with her and get her thoughts on the World Cup, youth soccer, and what it takes to compete at the international level.
Let's get the really tough question out of the way. What's it like to have a street named after you?
It was a really great honor. They named the street after me right after the 1999 World Cup. It was right here in my hometown of Memphis and my entire family was able to be there.
You're from Memphis originally...what's the soccer scene down there like?
It's really picking up. Soccer Memphis has really grown since I came through. When I was coming up there was only really my club and now there's tons of different clubs with boys and girls playing a ton of soccer.
How did you first get involved in soccer?
I first got involved because I have three brothers. Like most siblings you want to do what the older siblings do. Luckily one of the things they were doing was soccer.
You're a three- time Olympian and a two time World Cup participant. What's it like playing on such a large stage?
It's a blast. Just to be able to represent your country. It's a pretty amazing opportunity to stand out there on the field and to listen to your national anthem.
What special skills or intangibles does it take to be a World Cup athlete?
You have to have a very competitive drive. Obviously you've got to have the soccer skills. A lot of people have the talent but there's a certain level of competitiveness and a mentality to compete day in and day out that separates the players that make it and the players that don't.
What made that 1999 World Cup team so special?
There were so many different aspects. The personalities on the team made up such a special group.
To have the World Cup in our hometown. To be able to win the World Cup in front of 93 thousand in the rose bowl--there's not much to compare that experience to. We had everybody watching us on TV. All kinds of fans, not just soccer fans, remember that game.
I can't tell you how many people ask if I was the girl who took off her shirt after the game. And I say, "No...but thanks for watching!"
Everything from what you are going to be able to drink and eat to the pressures of staying healthy. Staying fit. Training enough but not training too much so that you get tried.
Eating in a foreign country is tough because you need to eat the right thing but it's not always easy to find something you like. And when you're staying in a hotel you're often eating the same food every day. You get bored with the food.
Then there's the pressure of actually winning. There's a lot of pressure and stresses and that normal ordinary citizens don't' think about it.
What do you think US Men's National Team's chances at the Cup?
I think they have a good chance. They're a great team. These games right now-- I don't think we're going to see the best team. They'll taper into these games and train right through them so that they are well-rested for the cup.
But they're very talented. I'm hoping for the best. I'll be glued to my TV like I hope everyone else is in the country.
How did you get involved with The LLS (The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society)?
Well I first got involved when they contacted me to do a clinic with one of the winners of the Soccer Kicks for Cancer program. Since then I've been emailing them to see what else I can do. It's one of the best experiences I've ever had because it's a win-win situation for kids and The LLS.
Any advice for our younger soccer players who'd like to someday play in college--and possibly beyond?
Just keep playing soccer if it's what you like to do. The rest will take care of itself.
As a San Diego Spirit fan I need to ask this... do you think there's a chance of the WUSA--or something like it--coming back?
We're working on it. We're trying to get the league to come back in the very near future.