We all know her for the bra that is just as famous as she is.
On July 10, 1999, more than 90,000 Americans came together at the Rose bowl in Pasadena, CA to watch the USA Women’s National Team take the World Cup trophy in a penalty kick shoot out after 90 minutes of regulation time, and 30 minutes of extra time.
No goals were scored in those 120 minutes, so penalty kicks would determine the winner. After two goals scored by the USA and two scored by China, Brianna Scurry saved China’s third kick. The US kicked next, and scored. China scored on its fourth kick, and so did the USA. It came down to each team’s final kick. China scored, and it was all up to Chastain, as the fifth penalty kick taker, to score the goal and win it all for the USA.
And score she did.
The crowd erupted, the US team found energy to sprint to Chastain who was down on her knees with her jersey off and fists up in the air to celebrate, and hundreds of thousands more watching at home went crazy. It was one of the greatest moments in the history of US Soccer.
Chastain went on to win a silver medal at the summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia the next year, and a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, GA, adding to the 1999 World Cup championship title. She watched the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA ) launch in 2001, but also watched it fold after just 3 seasons.
With no chance of playing for the USA again, Brandi continued to play in her local club teams, started the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative (BAWSI) with Julie Foudy and Marline Bjornsrud, and became a mom. Never losing her passion for the game, she was back in 2009 when Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) launched, playing for the Bay Area team, FC Gold Pride.
She was back again this year, ready for the new season with FC Gold Pride, but after coaches had to pick the final roster of 22 players, Chastain was cut from the team. At that point, Chastain had no chance of playing professional soccer again, so she turned to the California Storm in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL), where she could keep playing the game she loves.
After the Olympics in 2004, she didn’t see herself retiring just yet while teammates Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, and Joy Fawcett played their last games in a USA jersey in December that year. “I still felt like I could play,” she said, but Greg Ryan who had become the head coach in 2005 didn’t give her a chance to return to the game and she was forced out of the international soccer scene.
When WPS came around, it was the perfect chance for Chastain to return to the field. “Last year with FC Gold Pride wasn’t as great as I hoped it would be…and again, I wasn’t given a chance to play in 2010.”
After giving it much thought, Chastain decided she would retire and the announcement on July 15 made it official. “One of my friends said ‘we should have a celebration game to honor your career.'”
October 2nd will be a day for “high fives, laughing, falling, smiling,” as Chastain hosts a soccer clinic for kids, and brings some of her closest friends, and other athletes together for a fun, friendly, co-ed soccer match to celebrate the game of soccer. All proceeds will be driven into her new project, the Reach Up! Foundation.
Chastain has been kept busy with Jaden, her four-year-old son, the BAWSI, volunteer coaching at Santa Clara where her husband, Jerry Smith, is the head coach, being part of the advisory board of the Capital One College Cup, and even taking up acting with the new Pretty Tough web series. “Acting is not my forte, but I think I do a good impersonation of myself,” she said laughing. “I think [the series] has a good message that resonates with me. Young girls should know that being strong, and confident shouldn’t be held against them,” she added.
Chastain will always be remembered for the bra, but we all know she had a tremendous career, and did more than enough for women’s soccer. The pride, joy, and inspiration she gave her fans will last for many years.
For more details on the Oct. 2nd Testimonial game, visit reachupworld.com.