The bedroom in Woburn, Mass., contains the articles of faith of
a 13-year-old girl, circa 1999. There is a Mia poster, and a
soccer ball lamp, and an autographed Mia photo, and a soccer
ball piggy bank, and another Mia poster, and the soccer ball
clock that Sara Brothers made in wood shop.
Like her idol, Mia Hamm, Sara is a striker with an instinct for
attack. She scored 26 of her youth league team's 38 goals in the
fall of '98. Also like Hamm, who endures the often vicious
tackles of her opponents, Sara has a high threshold for pain.
Two years ago she played an entire match without realizing she
had broken her right foot. She takes the field each weekend
despite suffering from Von Willebrand's disease, a
blood-clotting disorder. A bruise can cause Sara to bleed
internally; her mom, Cindylee, must bring clot-inducing medicine
to her matches.
Last summer Sara used the $52 she had saved from collecting
recyclable cans and bottles to buy a ticket to the U.S.'s
first-round game against North Korea, in Foxboro. When Sara got
Hamm to sign a copy of her book, Go for the Goal, at a U.S.
practice in Wellesley, "I was too nervous to say anything," she
says. "I was shaking."
"These players don't put on airs," says Cindylee. "You see them
signing autographs and spending a few minutes with the girls at
practice, and you come away with a real good feeling."
During the final Sara huddled in front of the television with
her friend Lindsay, enduring two hours of tension until the
final, primal scream of victory. "I was crying," Sara says, but
not for long. Within minutes she was standing atop a ladder
outside, hanging a 44-foot-long banner that reached from one end
of her house to the other: CONGRATULATIONS U.S. CHAMPS!
COLOR PHOTO: DAMIAN STROHMEYER