With 271 international soccer caps, Julie Foudy is the consummate team captain
“Be courageous enough to stop worrying about being perfect.” Julie Foudy is a two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion and Olympic gold medalist. Foudy played for Team USA for 17 years, registering 271 caps (on-field appearances). She captained the teams’ she played on, was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame, and became the first female ever to be awarded the FIFA Fair Play Award. Amidst the recent cuts at ESPN, Foudy was one of the few who was signed to a multi-year deal as a color commentator and SportsCenter anchor.
With the release of her best-selling book, Choose to Matter: Being Courageously and Fabulously You, Foudy’s on a mission to empower more women and youth sports athletes to lead by example. She acknowledged writing a book was a new challenge and one that was just as rewarding as winning her most prized soccer match. The duality of the modern athlete brings about a new set of obstacles that are not easily benchmarked. It can be difficult to explore a new world without a clear path, but when you go all in, it can be as rewarding as winning a championship.
Foudy calls leadership “diverse”. We’re used to describing our leaders as politicians, coaches, or board executives. Foudy recalls co-captain, Mia Hamm’s leadership traits, saying she would lead in a “beautiful and personable way”. Hamm would pull teammates aside from the practice field to talk through missed assignments. She never called a teammate out in front of others. Foudy, like Hamm, had a knack to inspire greatness in teammates.
In her book, Foudy encourages young women not to undersell themselves. “Just because you didn’t take this class or know a subject really well doesn’t mean you can’t be exceptional at a new endeavor.” Foudy acknowledges a challenge that plagues women in particular – their fear of not being good enough.
In the final segment of our podcast, I asked her how she defined success. She told me the significance in duty is more important than any championship or accolade. “Every day you wake up it’s about making a difference.” Success is not defined by achievement, rather, by our personal growth and impact we leave on others.
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