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January 26, 2014
With NSCAA speech, Lilly could be preparing for Hall induction

By Charles Cuttone
Executive Editor

Kristine Lilly has never liked giving speeches. But over the years she's gotten better at them. She's even managed to give an entire speech in front of her former North Carolina and U.S. National Team coach Anson Dorrance.

Lilly made it through the entire speech, accepting the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Women's Committee Award of excellence January 18 at the Marriott in Philadelphia.

The highlight of Lilly's speech was recounting the first time she had to speak in public, and in front of her coach.

"I was a senior in college. My major was communications," Lilly said. "In the spring, before the blue-white football game, a big event at the basketball arena, the Dean Dome at North Carolina.

"Dean Smith was there, the AD was there, Anson and different people from the faculty. I wrote my whole speech out. I was so nervous. I'm reading it and I literally have three sentences left, and I can hear myself inside my head. Like oh, God. I can do this I can do this. I didn't do it.

"I tried the best I could… I fainted. I think everyone out there could see my face go white. But… the best part, there's always a silver lining to everything. Dean Smith caught me."

Smith wasn't there to catch Lilly last Saturday, but she didn't need it as she followed in the footsteps of her former teammates April Heinrichs, Mia Hamm and Michelle Akers in receiving the women's committee award.

Though she stepped away from playing in 2011, retiring as the all-time caps leader in soccer history, and having played in five FIFA Women's World Cups, the 41-year-old mother of two has hardly stepped away from the game.

In addition to running her own camps, the Kristine Lilly Soccer Academy, she works with Coerver Coaching and the Team First Camps, with Hamm and another former U.S. and UNC team mate Tisha Venturini.

Lilly hasn't had to make many speeches, though she's gotten more comfortable in front of cameras and doing interviews over the years.

"I prefer to do my work and get done," Lilly said. There's no question that, on the field, Lilly got her work done.

Her 352 caps is more than any other man or woman, when she retired, she was the second all-time leading goal scorer in women's soccer history (now third).

In making her acceptance at the NSCAA Convention, Lilly told stories of former teammates, including Akers and Hamm, and former coaches Dorrance and Tony DiCicco, getting through the entire 20 minute presentation without any incident.

The speech may have been a good warm-up for Lilly, who most likely will have to make the most important speech of her career later this year. She is appearing for the first time on the ballot for the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

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