Narrated by Sean Braswell
Explore history's interlocking lives and events. Turn back the clock, one story at a time. Discover how various strands are woven together to create a historic figure, a big idea or an unthinkable tragedy. From OZY Media. History. Unwound.SUBSCRIBE NOW
When Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey after scoring the winning penalty kick in the 1999 Women's World Cup Final, her iconic celebration marked the arrival of women’s soccer, both on the global sports stage and in the public imagination. With “The '99ers,” as the team is known, America had assembled a talented group of women and given them an unprecedented opportunity to succeed. But it was an opportunity that did not come easily…or happen overnight.
In the summer of 1985, the first U.S. women’s national soccer team made their debut in Italy. The ragtag group, cobbled together in less than a week and with a shoestring budget, little time to practice, and hand-me-down uniforms, struggled to keep up with their international competition. But their perseverance and their love of the game laid the groundwork for the winning team culture that fueled the championship teams of the 1990s.
More than 23 years before Brandi Chastain took off her jersey, the women of the Yale women's crew team were taking off more than theirs. In March 1976, 19 members of the Yale women's crew team stripped naked in a college athletic director’s office to protest the team’s lack of shower facilities and changed the way that female athletes are treated on college campuses.