A forward, and midfielder early in her career, who was the greatest goalscorer in women’s international soccer history, with 158 goals in the 275 games she played for the U.S. women’s national team between 1987 and 2004.
Hamm was named the FIFA Women’s World Player of the year in 2001 and 2002 and the USSF Female Athlete of the Year five times. She played in four World Cups and three Olympic Games, winning World Cup titles in 1991 and 1999 and Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2004.
By the late 1990s, Hamm had become very much a one-woman advertisement for the sport of women’s soccer and a role model for young players. She had inherited Michelle Akers’ mantle as the world’s most recognizable woman player, but she was a rather reluctant cult figure, preferring to deflect the spotlight toward her teammates.
Hamm was the youngest player in the United States team when it won the first Women’s World Cup in 1991. Despite being only 19, she played all six of the U.S. team’s games, and scored two goals in first-round games. She had begun her national-team career four years earlier, and the title game of the 1991 Women’s World Cup was her 49th full international.
By the time of the 1995 Women’s World Cup, at which she again scored two goals, Hamm had matured into one of the team’s leaders. In the meanwhile, she had completed a career at the University of North Carolina in which she won four NCAA championships and was named a first-team all-American three times.
At the 1996 Olympics, the injured Hamm played only two of the United States’ three first-round games, and was substituted in both of those, but returned to play all 90 minutes of the United States’ semifinal and final victories.
In the 1999 Women’s World Cup, Hamm again scored only two goals, but was a key part of the American attack, creating many openings for teammates by virtue of the attention she drew from opposing defenses.
After that 1999 triumph, she played in another World Cup and two more Olympic Games, winning her second Olympic gold medal in 2004. In the 2003 Women’s World Cup, she again scored two goals, the fourth World Cup in which she had done so. She also was one of the stars of the Women’s United Soccer Association, winning the WUSA championship with Washington in 2003.
Inducted in 2007.