Mia Hamm: A Military B.R.A.T. Who Found Her Passion Abroad

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Mia Hamm is a third culture kid (TCK) and Military B.R.A.T. who has cultivated a career out of her zeal for soccer. This was a skill she would discover a liking for at a young age while living abroad in Italy.

Image shows view of Florence, Italy, the town where Mia Hamm discovered soccer while living there.
Photo labeled for reuse, courtesy of Unplash.

Her Background

Image displays an airplane, signifying the travel and global mobility of Mia Hamm.
Photo labeled for reuse, courtesy of Unsplash.

Hamm was originally born in Selma, Alabama in 1972 into a family of six other children. Her large family moved around frequently during the years Hamm was in her youth. This was due to her father, Bill Hamm’s military career as an Air Force pilot. The Hamm family bounced between a multitude of Air Force bases before the time Hamm was an adult. These bases included United States locations such as Virginia and Texas and in Europe, bases like Italy. All of which locations had cultures vastly different from one another.

Hamm is a Military B.R.A.T. as well as a now ATCK, domestically and abroad. Her home was constantly shifting and her culture straddled between different states and overseas. This global mobility influenced the future career Mia would eventually have greatly. 

Her Discovery

While living in Florence, Italy, at the ripe age of only one and a few months, Hamm discovered her love for soccer. This passion that began as an infant led to a lifetime of involvement in the sport, soaking up all it had to offer. However, Hamm explains in an interview with a journalist for AS Roma, “I wasn’t allowed to play organized soccer until I turned five.” But she has never given up on this interest in soccer. She is a persistent individual and eventually was allowed to start playing this fast-paced sport. 

Hamm’s sister, Caroline Cruickshank explains in an interview with CNN, “Mia was in a park in Italy playing, and the next thing they knew, she went darting across the green. And she was taking away a soccer ball from a kid that was five years old, and she was maybe two…” Had Hamm not found her love for this sport due to the global mobility of her father’s career, she would have never made the strides and achievements she did throughout her lengthy and impressive professional soccer career.

Hamm’s Remarkable Achievements

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As a soccer player Hamm has a range of achievements and awards from her time in the sport. One could argue that she is one of the most famous and accredited female soccer players of her time. 

Female soccer has been a considerable conversation in the last few years. Especially with the U.S. women’s team garnering significant media coverage in 2019 after winning the women’s FIFA world cup in decisive fashion. Hamm received an honor of sportswomen of the year in 1997 and 1999 by the Women’s Sports Foundation. Soon after, she ranked in the top three women soccer players of the twentieth century at the FIFA Player of the Century awards.  

To top all these honors and awards off in 1999 Hamm was sought out by Nike. This came in the middle of her career, surrounding naming the largest building on their now 3.2 million square foot headquarters after the famed soccer player. “I associated that with post-career accolades,” Hamm said in an interview with The Washington Journal. “I was almost incredulous.” 

Image shows subject of article, Mia Hamm, signing an autograph.
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Continued Success

Hamm continued her success in the sport of soccer in 2006. She was inducted into the Alabama Sports, Texas and National Halls of Fame. Her silhouette became featured in 2008 on the logo of the women’s professional league in the United States. And finally, in 2012 ESPN names her the greatest female athlete. 

The Mia Hamm Foundation was something that she would consider one of her more impactful and personal achievements. Hamm gave thanks in her induction speech, “for enabling me with the foundation to further spread my message.” And that is exactly what continues to do. Hamm uses her fame and recognition for good. Through the foundation she works on opportunities to further the development of women’s sports amongst the younger generations.  

Her Influence & Representation

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As such an accredited female soccer player, Hamm has been an extremely influential figure in sports, especially for young women. Through her foundation, she has raised funds for bone marrow and cord blood transplants. This, with increasing female representation in sports.

Traditionally in sports, especially in the U.S., there has been underrepresentation, as well as, a monumental pay gap issue. This translates into women not being hosted as features in media outlets, receiving overall less recognition and in turn, creating less of a fan-base. On top of these harsh truths, there are stereotypes plaguing women such as being the weaker gender, “throwing like a girl,” and being more sensitive to sports-related injuries.  This is why highlighting inspirational female athletes is crucial in the quest to create a more equal experience between genders.

Being such a notable figure in the soccer world has paved the way for many aspiring female athletes. They recieve representation through her achievements. Hamm’s story has shown young women of all backgrounds the possibilities that await them: endorsements, scholarships and respect in a seemingly male-dominated industry. 

Her Impact on Women’s Soccer

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Hamm has also had a significant influence on the popularity and recognition surrounding women’s soccer. At the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, she led her team to win Gold for the U.S. This was with 80,000 fans viewing the event. This number is historic as there were never so many fans watching a women’s sporting event.

Hamm has made it clear throughout her career that she recognizes she is a governing force in women’s soccer, and sports in general. During an interview with Time Magazine, Hamm discussed her influential role. She says, “I took every opportunity as a responsibility to not only help our sport grow but also to support female athletics.” Hamm notes how important sports can be for young women’s confidence. Being from a military family, Hamm says they were moving every two to three years. Playing a sport was an easy way to make a connection with others wherever she moved. 

Throughout her career she has always expressed the importance of empowering women with everything she does. Hamm proves to young girls all over the world that no matter who they are or where they come from, anything is possible if you stay passionate and determined.

Her Perpetual Impact

Living in a military family, and moving all across the world wasn’t always easy. Despite never settling into a true home, and undoubtedly feeling alienated at times, Hamm managed to find something she loves while moving around — soccer. This is something that has functioned as a constant in Hamm’s life. She serves as an inspiration for fellow TCKs, Military B.R.A.T.s and young girls alike to follow their dreams and become the best at the sport or passion they truly love.


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