In addition to leading her teams to two World Cups and an Olympic Gold, Michelle Akers is a spokeswoman for the cause of soccer, women in general, and Jesus Christ. Her award-filled career, including the physical, personal, and spiritual struggles she has overcome, is the subject of this book.
One look into her eyes and you know she means business; get the ball anywhere near her and you'll find out for sure. This is not your run-of-the-mill, world-class athlete this is Michelle Akers, a champion whose incredible drive and skills are legendary in women's soccer. This is the woman USA Today called the "heart and soul" of the history-making 1999 U.S. Women's World Cup Soccer Championship Team. The Game and the Glory takes you inside the life of one of the greatest female athletes of our time and shows you what makes a true champion. It's more than ability it's an inner fire that blazes its hottest when the winds of adversity blow their strongest. But for all her tremendous grit and ability, there is one opponent even Michelle Akers can't shake. It's called Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome (CFIDS), and it affects every area of her life, draining the energy needed just to function, let alone play sports. Akers may be the only person with CFIDS who has ever continued to compete on a world level. From her childhood infatuation with soccer, to high school days in Seattle playing with the U-19 Flyers, to the rigors of the U.S. Women's National Team, Akers retraces her guts-and-glory road to the Rose Bowl and the 1999 World Cup victory. You'll learn about the indomitable drive to win that has made her one of the top scorers and most feared opponents in women's soccer. And you'll witness the unflagging endurance that has propelled her past multiple injuries and the ravages of CFIDS to sustain a fifteen-year career with the national team. You'll also read about Michelle's life off the playing field: her relationship with family, coaches, friends, and teammates, her personal struggles, and her faith in Jesus Christ that has kept her fighting and winning against unimaginable odds. Former U.S. Soccer coach Tony DiCocco has called Michelle Akers "the best woman that's ever played the game, period." The Game and the Glory will show you why. Here, in her own straightforward words, is the true-life story of an amazing athlete and a remarkable woman.
Author Biography: Michelle Akers, whom USA Today called the "heart and soul" of the U.S. Women's Soccer team, plans to compete in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. She has founded Soccer Outreach International to inspire kids of all nations to be leaders through quality character, dynamic faith, and clear purpose, and to share the love and message of Jesus Christ through soccer the medium of her life's work. She lives in Orlando, FL.
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About the Author
Michelle Akers, whom USA Today called the "heart and soul" of the U.S. Women's Soccer team, plans to compete in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. She has founded Soccer Outreach International to inspire kids of all nations to be leaders through quality character, dynamic faith, and clear purpose, and to share the love and message of Jesus Christ through soccer -- the medium of her life's work. She lives in Orlando, Florida.
Read an Excerpt
Who Will I Be?I awakened before 5 a.m. as usual, alone in the quiet darkness of my hotel room. As always, my first thought wasn't about the World Cup; it was about my morning cup of coffee. Black and strong. On some less-than-conscious level I guess I was aware this was the morning of July 10, the day of the 1999 Women's World Cup soccer final. But my mind wasn't capable of confronting anything else until I'd stumbled across the room and started brewing a pot of Starbuck's “Gold Coast” from my own personal stash. Awareness of the rest of the world seeped in only as the first cup of caffeine began to take effect. I was hardly oblivious to all the hype and the attention the World Cup tournament had generated across the United States and around the world. In the past few weeks I'd talked to more reporters for more interviews than I could count. Friends and family had told me about some of the wonderful media coverage my teammates and I had received. But I hadn't been reading the papers or watching the television coverage. Of course I realized the significance of playing in the final game at the Rose Bowl in front of 90,000 people with a worldwide television audience tuned in. Getting another shot at a world championship had been my professional goal and a major focus of my life and that of my teammates ever since the '95 World Cup and the '96 Olympics. Certainly this promised to be a big day. But despite the grandiose assessments of the media, I wasn't worried about the significance of this game on U.S.–China relations. I hadn't given any serious thought to the possibility of it being a sociological landmark, or a milestone in sports history. The importance of this game for the future of soccer and women's sports wasn't my concern either. I couldn't afford to think about the day in such lofty terms. For me, the personal challenge I knew I had to face in the coming hours seemed plenty big enough. And the only way to meet that challenge was to begin the morning with my usual daily routine. Like every morning of my life in the eight years since I'd developed Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS), when I woke up I did a mental check. I needed to know, How am I feeling today? I'd felt better. But I'd also felt a lot worse. There was definitely a sense of tiredness enough that I could tell I wouldn't know until I got on the field and started warming up just how much gas I had left in my tank. No sense worrying about that now. Coffee mug in hand, I climbed back onto the bed and began my habitual quiet time of Bible study and prayer. That done, I pulled out my personal World Cup journal and tried to record my feelings. At the top of the page I wrote: 7/10 Game Day vs. China The World Cup Final I'm not sure what to think or what exactly I'm feeling prior to this game. I have a strange sense of destiny, of satisfaction, of call. It's like the calm before the battle, I suppose. All the preparation is behind me. Now it is finally time. Everything I need to give, everything I have to battle and play courageously, is stored inside, ready to be called upon come game time and the 90 minutes that will follow. Nothing to do now but show up, be courageous, give everything, and see what happens. I have become acutely aware of how a moment can transform . . . or forever alter a person and their life. A collision, cleats to the face, a save off the line, one headball, a car crash, a simple statement, or a conversation with the press or an individual. Before the Brazil game I stood in front of the mirror and looked into my own eyes to try to see into myself. I wondered, Would I have the courage required by that challenge? I noticed the black shadow still around my eye from my broken face back in February. I looked even deeper into myself and asked how different I would be after the game. What would I find out about myself? What would transpire? I came home from that game having fought a valiant battle. Another guts game for me. But I had what it took, and I did not flinch or hesitate. Today I peer into my eyes and ask the same questions of courage and destiny. Now I also see a cleat mark and a bruise on my face alongside the remaining black eye. When I stopped writing to think about it, I realized why I felt so beat up. Game after game throughout the tournament, something new had happened to me physically that just added to the burden of my health and my body not working rightwhether it was one more blow to my chronically bad knees, being kicked in the face, dislocating a shoulder, or getting my head cracked good any number of times. I'd had to be helped off the field a couple times in the Brazil game alone. That was all taking a toll. And I knew from experience it was going to happen again. I was already weary and sick and beat up. And there was another ninety minutes to go today with the entire world watching. Our team psychologist, Colleen Hacker, who'd been with the Women's National Team for years and had closely followed my own personal ordeal, tried to encourage me. “Hack” (and a few other people closest to me) realized as we progressed through the tournament that, while everyone else's excitement and anticipation were rising toward the final game and a possible world championship, my own personal physical reserves were waning fast. Would I bottom out physically before I reached the summit we'd all been working toward for so long? Would I have the courage to not quit? “Mish,” our resident shrink had assured me earlier in the year when I'd become so discouraged that I'd had to pull myself out of a pre–World Cup game, “rarely in life are people tested so intensely, where everything is required of them to sum up the energy and the mentality to persevere like this. It's not as if you're going to have to train and push yourself to compete at this level for the rest of your life. You need to realize there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And you should recognize that you're going through an amazing period of your life right now that is going to result in a lot of growth.” I knew “Hack” was right. During the whole year leading up to the World Cup and now all during the tournament as well, I'd sensed God doing something very significant in my heart and life. But growth never comes without a price. Sometimes it seemed like I'd been running this marathon obstacle course forever. Every game, every day was like one more hurdle, one more test placed in my path. I'd faced so many seemingly insurmountable challenges, expended so much of my energy reserves, and endured so much pain that some days I wanted to scream out at God, “That's enough! I can't go on!” But when I did go on, I realized God was strengthening me, changing me, one day at a time. I was slowly learning that I didn't have to worry about the obstacles, about whether or not I could overcome them, or whether or not I succeeded in reaching my goals, or even whether I ever crossed the finish line. All that God expected of me was to be faithful, to take the next step. That would be enough, because He would make it enough.
Table of ContentsContentsWhile the World Looks On -Part One- Finals Day: July 10, 1999 Chapter One Who Will I Be? Chapter Two Good to Go Chapter Three Down and Out -Part Two- When the Games Began: From Kid to College Chapter Four Sore Loser Chapter Five Walnut Wars and Worse Chapter Six Somebody Different Chapter Seven Full Speed Ahead Chapter Eight New School Ties -Part Three- Promise of Glory: National Team Beginnings Chapter Nine Just Kickin' Around the World Chapter Ten Long Road to China Chapter Eleven The '91 World Cup Experience -Part Four - Broken Dreams: The Valley Years Chapter Twelve Down from the Mountaintop Chapter Thirteen Looking Up Again Chapter Fourteen Uphill Road to Sweden Chapter Fifteen Cup of Suffering -Part Five - Going for the Gold: Atlanta 1996 Chapter Sixteen One More Rocky Road Chapter Seventeen Olympic Effort Chapter Eighteen Beyond the Games -Part Six - Days in the Sun: The 1999 Women's World Cup Chapter Nineteen Rock On, USA! Chapter Twenty Time to Cowboy Up Chapter Twenty-One My Cup Runneth Over Epilogue Acknowledgments
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Before Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain's bra, and Abby Wambach, there was Michelle Akers - the first face of women's soccer. In fact, if it hadn't been for Akers, nobody may have ever heard of Hamm and her contemporaries. Quite possibly the greatest female soccer player in the world, Michelle's story took a dramatic turn when she was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome. This book details Akers' rise to Olympic gold, her struggle to define her relationship with God, and her fight against a debilitating disease. As the only person, male or female, to ever play a professional sport while suffering from CFIDS, her story is inspirational. Read the book - if you're a fan of women's soccer, inspirational stories, or good testimonies, you won't regret it.
This book was truelly outstanding. I loved every page and was inspired by Michelle Akers triump over adversity.