Brandi Chastain is simply the ambassador of collegiate student-athletes. A former student-athlete herself at the University of California-Berkeley, Brandi was the Soccer America Freshman of the Year in 1986, and, upon transferring to Santa Clara University, she appeared in two NCAA Final Fours.
As a female in a sport that has not typically grabbed the headlines, Brandi was the exception to what once was the rule, in a period that had forever held on to the “incident” during the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup as a means to highlight the positives throughout her career as well as the the US Women’s National Team.
As a part of her role with the Capital One and the Capital One Cup, she now has the opportunity to provide other athletes an opportunity to play at the collegiate level as well as present the award to the men’s and women’s winners.
Capital One will award the University of Florida men’s athletics program along with the Stanford University athletic program – both repeating champions. The Capital One Cup trophy will be presented with a combined $400,000 to support student athlete scholarships to both schools at the ESPY Awards tonight. The points determining the overall winners are tallied based on the results 19 men’s sports and 20 women’s NCAA Division 1 sports.
Brandi will be seen with both teams on the red carpet ahead of this evening’s ESPY Awards.
On U.S. Women’s National Team player Abby Wambach, who is nominated for Best Female Athlete at the ESPYs, Brandi says her “chances are better than the rest [of the nominess]… Abby has proved year in and year out that she is able to score goals. She consistently comes through in the clutch.” Abby won the 2011 ESPY for Best Play of the Year for her match-tying header in stoppage time of the quarterfinals against Brazil in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Women’s Professional Soccer
Since the collapse of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) in May, the second league in recent history to fold, collegiate soccer has become the highest level of women’s soccer in the United States. “It is critical that the programs educate these players. They are the next generation of Olympic athletes,” says Chastain.
A professional league provides opportunities for players to train year round at a high-level. Without that, “it places more of a burden on U.S. Soccer. That’s stressful.”
More importantly is the exposure for youth players who require role models on and off the pitch.
“It’s sad for the players and for the fans. It is important for fans to be able to watch quality women’s soccer in the U.S. and around the world.”
The approach not yet tested is a Women’s Major League Soccer. The existing foundations in that of each of the nineteen MLS clubs, provides an opportunity for sharing resources, such as stadiums and equipment. Few MLS clubs (D.C. United, Seattle Sounders, and Vancouver Whitecaps) currently have women’s teams competing in the USL W-League.
On a possible Women’s MLS, Chastain responded, “it wouldn’t be that much of a drop in the bucket and it would enhance the overall fan base.”
Brandi will be a part of the NBC Sports broadcasting team throughout the 2012 Olympics for the U.S. Women’s National Team matches. For a full schedule of the upccoming matches, please click here.
The ESPY Awards will be broadcast on ESPN at 9 PM EDT tonight.
Please check out Brandi’s non-profit organization ReachuP! Foundation at www.reachupworld.com. The ReachuP! Foundation impacts the lives of as many girls through programs to create positive youth development, inspiration, and empowerment.