On this day in 2004, Team USA soccer legend Mariel Margret Hamm (1972-), No. 9, retired from the sport.
A team player who gave 100%, she once said, "You may get skinned knees and elbows, but it's worth it if you score a spectacular goal."
Called "our most important female athlete ever" by her coach Anson Dorrance, Mia influenced millions while winning two world titles and two Olympic gold medals.
Hamm played in 274 international matches and retired as the all-time career-scoring leader in the history of international soccer with a remarkable 158 goals.
"Learn to differentiate between what is truly important and what can be dealt with at another time," she said.
Born in Selma, Alabama, she discovered a passion for soccer as child and joined the U.S. National team at age 15. In 1990, she played at the University of North Carolina, leading her team to four consecutive NCAA championships (1989-1993).
A dynamic and dominating player, the inspirational Hamm helped revolutionize the opportunities for young girls in sports. "She laid to rest the insult, 'You play like a girl,'" Coach Dorrance said of Hamm.
About her fans' devotion Hamm said, "Why did the kids choose me? I hope it's the same reason they chose our team because we represent everything they want to be and can be: Incredibly conscientious people who understand that there's always a bigger picture out there and play with pride and passion every single play."
After her brother Garrett died in 1997, Hamm created the Mia Hamm Foundation to raise funds for bone marrow research and increase awareness about this important "gift of life."
"My goal is to leave a positive and lasting legacy in the research of bone marrow diseases and for every female athlete to have the opportunity to play the sports they love," Hamm said.
Focus...then do the simple things well.