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Angela Hucles on the path to Guiding Change in Women’s Soccer

March 9, 2016

Angela Hucles started playing organized sports at the age of six. In the next year she narrowed it down to two and three sports before choosing soccer. Her parents felt it was helpful to have a lot of energy focused outside of the house. For Angela, it was the things like orange slices at halftime, playing in the neighborhood, and just the love for the sport that drew her into the sport.

 

Angela played with boys up to about the age of 12 then she joined her first all-girls team, her high school team. More all-girls teams were becoming available at that time. She played on the Olympic Development Team (ODP) for the state of Virginia.

 

Soccer was still evolving as Angela was growing up. “The college level was the biggest jump for me that I experienced up until that point. I wanted to be a true college student athlete. I wanted to get a college education at a great program, with good players, where I felt I could make an impact,” said Angela. For her that school was the University of Virginia. “I didn’t feel like UNC would give me that experience. UNC was the top ranked team in the country at the time.

 

At Virginia, she was a four-year all-ACC player. She scored 59 goals, including a record 19 game-winners to claim the title as Virginia's career women's leader in goals, game-winning goals, and total points. To this day, no one has defeated her record.

 

Following her standout career at UVA, Angela said, “I graduated college at a time where the start of the professional league, the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA). Everyone who played in the WUSA league looks back on it and remembers it was something special, it still is something special.”

 

“It was the first opportunity to compete at a high level, doing what you love, and competing against the best in the world. I credit WUSA for getting called into the Women’s National Team because the coaches were constantly evaluating them.”

 

On the women’s national team, Hucles went on to win two Olympic Gold Medals and finished third in the two World Cups. She appeared in 109 total matches for the USA between April 2002 and July 2009. Unfortunately she did not play much in the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup due to a shin injury.

 

Angela had a big impact on the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing stepping into a starting position after the injury of Abby Wambach. It was a very mental tournament as reporters questioned and doubted their chance of winning after the loss of their leading goal scorer and all around leader. For Angela she said, “The majority of my time with the USA team I was a bench player. It was challenging, but I consistently challenged myself and prepared. Going into the Olympics, “we had a team mentality and togetherness. We were very motivated from external factors.”

 

Hucles was more than ready as she scored four goals, including two in the semi-finals against Japan leading the USA to the Gold medal. Angela went from being a role player with limited playing time to the second leading scorer in the 2008 Olympics behind Cristiane Rozeira of Brazil who finished with five.

 

On October 16, 2009, she announced her retirement from both club and international soccer, but it was just the beginning for a new chapter for Angela’s soccer legacy. Looking back on her gold medal experience, she has a different perspective on winning the medals now. “I look back on the journey from the age of 7 to the highest level there is being successful and now I am able to transfer the value of sports in life to the next generation.”

 

Angela recalls the transition into retirement. “The transition from playing at the professional, collegiate level, and with the USWNT is tough, but I started making connections last October and started to see what sports are all about. I got into coaching and broadcasting, but my values and mission aligned with Women’s Sports Foundation and I began to work with them. I hope in 10 years, no offense to the founder, but I am looking forward to the day Women’s Sports Foundation is not needed.”

 

Angela is now the president of WSF. She is doing all she can to provide female mentors and support for female athletes. Angela said, “I had strong female influences in my family. I wanted to be like my mom and two aunts.” With WSF, Angela and her coworker research statistics on how sports impact young girls, research advocacy, and grant programs to help athletes advance in their sports.

 

“The focus is on the next generation of female athletes to give them guidance and tools to be successful. I hope to get to a point where WSF is not needed, but we have to continue closing the gap between girls and boys. Angela is already doing so much, but as she says, “there is so much more to be done. I am trying help the athletes reach their potential.” Angela has been a part of many gender changes, league changed, and is now actively working to close the gap for the next generation.

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