A New Hope: Richland’s Solo Has Brought Gold to U.S., Women’s Pro Soccer To Seattle
If not for Washington women’s soccer coach Lesle Gallimore, Hope Solo may well have become America’s next great forward.
"I despised [playing goalkeeper]," Solo confessed last year. "My college coaches had their hands full with me."
Gallimore and longtime assistant Amy Griffin, the latter a U.S. National Team veteran, saw Solo’s potential in net – with the height, athleticism and reflexes that coaches dream of in a keeper – and shifted the Richland native and former Washington Youth Soccer star officially into her new position. America says, “thanks.”
In just over a decade since, Solo has become the United States’ premier goalkeeper and one of the most recognizable female athletes in the world. She has won two Olympic gold medals, led the U.S. to second place at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and in 2009 was named U.S. Soccer’s Female Athlete of the Year. Solo has also graced the covers of sports and fashion magazines, appeared on the ABC network’s “Dancing With the Stars” and become, with Abby Wambach, the face of U.S. Women’s Soccer for an entire generation of young fans.
In 2012, Solo’s journey from the youth soccer fields of Richland, Wash., to UW’s Husky Soccer Field, to the biggest soccer stadiums in the world came full circle, when she returned to Seattle to wear the Rave Green of the Sounders Women. Later this year, after a wrist injury heals, she will join the all-new Seattle Reign of Women’s Pro Soccer, helping to put Seattle on the women’s pro soccer map in the same way that fellow homegrown goalkeeper Kasey Keller did for the Sounders in MLS.
"I want to bring this city a championship, and I want to bring notoriety to the game," she told the Seattle Times this spring. "I want to give back to this city and show them the beautiful game. Most of the time, they get to see that high level of play on TV, during the World Cups, during the Olympics; now we're bringing it here to the city."
After that? The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada is just two short years away.