July 16, 2010
By Charles Cuttone
Chastain officially hangs ‘em up
Brandi Chastain is retiring from professional soccer. After being unceremoniously dumped by the National Team five years ago and by Bay Area FC Gold Pride earlier this year, the 41-year-old women’s soccer icon has decided it’s time.
|Brandi Chastain is moving on to the next phase of her career, including starting the Reach Up! Foundation for “tween” girls.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
“It was pretty much made for me,” she said of the decision after the Women’s Professional Soccer team decided to drop her before training camp earlier this year. “It seems inevitable that that is the actual reality so I am coming to grips with that and trying to use it as a positive.
“There is no doubt that I love soccer and still love going to the field. Yesterday I went out to watch Hostspurs practice at the Quakes training facility.
“It’s hard on the heart in that way.
“My relationship with the Gold Pride has been an unfortunate one recently and it doesn’t look to change.”
Chastain continues to play for the California Storm of the Womens’ Premier Soccer League. “ I think I’ll play until I’m 60,” she said.
What officially retiring allows Chastain to do is move on to the next phase of her career, which includes starting the Reach Up! foundation for ‘tween’ girls, pursue her passion for golf and perhaps do some coaching. She is assisting her husband Jerry Smith in coaching her alma mater Santa Clara University. Officially retiring now also allows Chastain to become eligible for election to the National Soccer Hall of Fame, where she will no doubt join her former teammates Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett in enshrinement.
Chastain says the explanation Gold Pride coach Albertin Montoya gave was that the team wanted to give some younger players on opportunity. Chastain says she asked for a tryout, but was denied. “It’s about can you or can you not play,” she said.
“He said, we’d like to help you retire gracefully. It was almost patronizing for me.”
Chastain thought about pursuing opportunities with other teams in the league, but with a young son, she decided that traveling with him, or leaving him at home in the Bay Area, would be too complicated.
“As far as my heart wanted to do it and my body could do it, my head prevailed and I wouldn’t pursue it.”
WPS released a statement from Commissioner Tonya Antonucci on Chastain’s retirement, saying,
“Brandi's legacy as an icon and ambassador of women's soccer will endure. Certainly for the many years--spanning decades--of passion for and service to the growth of the game, but also for the creative flair and entertaining style of play she displayed at the professional level. WPS thanks Brandi for all her contributions to the growth of the professional game as an active player and wishes Brandi the best of luck in her future endeavors.”
But, Chastain said, she is surprised despite her deciding not to pursue playing for another team, that she has not heard from the league or any of its teams about any role whatsoever.
“I feel like I could still help the league. I’m surely not going to make 25,000, 30,000, 65,000 people come to the stadium,” she said, “but I surely know that I have an enthusiasm and a love for the game that I feel is contagious that I could inspire young girls and their parents to see that. I’m surprised that there has been no real contact.”