Retired soccer power Angela Hucles talks post-play life — work, volunteering & pulling for US National Team (as a fan)November 25, 2010 – 6:00 am
By Megan Wood
Angela Hucles, who retired just over a year ago, was a two-time Olympic gold medalist and Boston Breakers powerhouse who played with the team during both the WUSA and WPS eras. Hucles, a Virginia Beach native, was named the 2009 Humanitarian of the Year by the U.S. Soccer Foundation. I caught up with her recently to discuss her successful soccer career, her new job in commercial real estate as Client Services Associate at CB Richard Ellis in Boston, and her position as President of the Board for the newly-formed non-profit Dream Big! Oh, and, of course, her take on the US National team’s road to qualify for World Cup play.
FGN: You are one of the most successful female soccer players to ever play the game, earning 109 caps for the USA and scoring 14 international goals. What does it feel like to be a world-renowned athlete?
AH: Well, I don’t feel anything close to being world-renowned, even in the soccer circles, but I do feel good about what I was able to accomplish during my time playing soccer.
FGN: What influenced your decision to retire? How has your life changed since you stepped off the soccer field?
AH: It was definitely a variety of reasons, not just one that [drove] my decision to retire. Ultimately, it was the feeling that I had telling me it was time. On the outside, it may appear that my life hasn’t changed drastically, but internally it has been a whirlwind. I am now working for a new company, living in a new place in Boston, and engaged.
FGN: The US team is having a bit of a challenge making it to the World Cup. Although they recently beat Italy in a critical game, were you surprised to see them fall to Mexico?
AH: Yes, I was a little bit surprised to see Mexico beat the US in the qualifying match. However, the parity in women’s soccer is becoming more and more present on the international level. One of the biggest challenges opponents of the US team face, is the ability of our women’s team to bounce back as well as the belief in the themselves to succeed. That’s a powerful combination when you have talented players taking the field. I have confidence in the US women’s team to get the job done in this last domestic qualification game vs Italy and is why they were able to pull out a win in the last game.
FGN: Your success in college at the University of Virginia, on the National Team and on the Boston Breakers has made you a household name among soccer fans. How do you think about the fact that you are a role model to so many people?
AH: I appreciate that others actually consider looking at my journey and experiences as an opportunity to learn. I enjoy and value learning from other people so if someone can [benefit from my example] I am glad that I can be helpful. I always want to live my life in a way that I can be proud of.
FGN: Last year, the U.S. Soccer Foundation selected you as the Humanitarian of the Year. What motivates your involvement?
AH: I know that my successes have come, in part, from the help of others. It is crucial to do your part in helping and giving back no matter what job you have or what you are doing. It’s such a great part of life that makes the world better and more balanced.
FGN: What skills did you learn from soccer that you have used in your professional career? Has being an athlete given you any advantages in the workplace?
AH: For the most part, sports, and especially team sports, provide the best learning grounds for corporate America. Learning how to multi-task, work with different personalities, pay attention to detail, and building a work ethic, is all learned through sports and is crucial to your success in the workplace as well.
FGN: How will you continue to support women’s soccer now that you aren’t on the field?
AH: There are numerous ways that anyone can give support to women’s soccer. I’ve chosen to be a season ticket holder, whether or not I can make all of the games. I go to the ones I can. I also continue to do public speaking and a little bit of individual soccer training. I would like to start an annual clinic that also provides young girls and women an educational element as well. After retirement, I knew I would stay involved in the sport in some capacity, but I am constantly redefining what that means to me. One of the ways I am choosing to spend my time now is volunteer work in my community. This is why I decided to team up with Dream Big!
FGN: You’ve just become president of the Dream Big! board. Why did you choose to be involved with this organization?
AH: Dream Big! provides some of the basic needs to be an athlete. It makes it very hard to be taken seriously and to build up self-esteem when you don’t have the necessary equipment. I like the philosophy and goals of Dream Big! [The organization helps low-income and homeless girls by providing the basic items necessary to enable them to participate in sports and physical activities]. Combining the philosophy with the enthusiasm of Linda Driscoll, it was a no-brainer for me. I always have high standards and goals for the activities that I get involved in, so I hope to see this first year of Dream Big! off to a good start with lots of involvement both from the donor side as well as the groups that we will be helping. It would be incredible to make Dream Big a national or even international organization!