World Champion and Gold Medalist Michelle Akers to Speak at Women’s Soccer Breakfast at 2013 Convention
Every year, the NSCAA Convention draws coaches, soccer fans and industry heavyweights from every corner of the globe.
The same holds true for the 2013 edition, as gold medalist and two-time world champion Michelle Akers will join the festivities as the guest speaker at the NSCAA Women’s Soccer Breakfast.
During her playing days, Akers was a star athlete on the pitch at every point of her career. She was a three-time NSCAA All-American in high school, and then followed up with a stellar career at the University of Central Florida.
As a collegiate player, Akers became a four-time NSCAA All-American, UCF’s Athlete of the Year (1988-89) and remains the leader in total points (134) in the program history. She was also the first woman to earn the Hermann Trophy in 1988 and had the distinct honor to have her No. 10 jersey retired by the school.
Akers first stepped into the international soccer scene in 1985 as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team. She earned the honor of scoring the first international goal for the United States program history in a 2-2 tie against Denmark.
During the 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China, Akers led the U.S. team to its first women’s world championship with her ten goals (including five in one game), which earned her the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer. In 1996, Akers and the USWNT posted a 2-1 win over China for the gold medal in the Summer Olympic Games. Add to that, Akers and the USWNT brought home the 1999 World Cup title.
“I think my proudest moment was following the 1999 World Cup, standing in the middle of the field alone, watching my team run a victory lap,” Akers recalls. “It was beautiful because in the past, I would be running with the team, sort of immersed in the lap, the win, my teammates.
“But this time, I stood alone, totally and completely spent and I got to see the team, the stadium, the fans, the balloons the entire celebration with the mental backdrop of our past World Cup wins and losses. Our journey to this moment, and knowing every second of dreaming, effort and energy was absolutely worth it.”
Akers retired in 2000 as the USWNT’s second all-time leading scorer with 247 points on 105 goals and 37 assists. Since then, Akers has continued to promote the game through several books (“The Game and the Glory,” “Standing Fast: Battles of a Champion” and “Face to Face with Michelle Akers”). In 2002, she was voted as FIFA’s Co-Woman Player of the Century and then in 2004 was one of two women named to the FIFA 100.
Akers recognizes the people and coaches “who took the time with me to give that little bit extra I needed. [… It was] them taking the time to see me and understand my dream and then help me get a step closer to it.”
For instance, she remembers her youth coach, Mike Koslosky, who took her to practice when she needed a ride. And Mr. Kovats, the high school boys’ coach who let her play with his team and treated her as just another player, not as a girl playing on the boys’ squad.
“Of course, there was Anson (Dorrance), who helped lay out the map to be the best player I could be. He exposed the level of training that needed to be met and challenged and encouraged me to unleash my mentality to compete to each and every session.”
Akers runs Michelle Akers Sundance Horse Rescue & Outreach, Inc., a 501(c)3 public charity dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and adoption of abused and neglected horses and other animals. She also recently began the Michelle Akers Soccer Company, which trains soccer players and other athletes through individual, group and team sessions and summer camps at her eight-acre farm near Atlanta.
While the game doesn’t consume her life like it did before, she still sees a bigger picture for it.
“It’s obvious we have come so very far but it is also obvious we have so very far to go,” Akers said. “There are still many inconsistencies, along with the remaining attitude of women and girls needing to be trained or coached differently. Unfortunately, that holds many girls back in their expectations of themselves and their real ability as athletes. After all the work we have done and after coming so far, there is still a lot of work to be done.”
The NSCAA Women’s Soccer Breakfast at the 2013 Convention will take place Saturday, Jan. 19 at 8 a.m. Tickets for the event can be purchased along with attendee registration.