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Mia Hamm and other soccer icons put on clinic for McLean youth players

Soccer greats Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Tisha Venturini teach players at a Team First Soccer Academy Camp in McLean (courtesy Nellamor Photography and Film/McLean Youth Soccer)

For a weekend, McLean’s up-and-coming soccer players got to learn from some of the best women to ever play the game.

Olympic gold medalists Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Tisha Venturini all spent last weekend (May 20-21) at Spring Hill District Park teaching a camp for kids and teens.

More than 150 players registered for the TeamFirst Soccer Academy Camp, according to McLean Youth Soccer (MYS), which hosted the event.

“Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Tisha Venturini continue to serve as an inspiration for young players and have maintained an active presence within the soccer community as well as provide a positive example for all youth aspiring to play the game they love,” MYS Executive Director Louise Waxler said. “MYS is honored to have been given the opportunity to have our players train with these legends in the game.”

For Hamm, the camp represented a kind of homecoming to the D.C. area, Waxler noted.

Prior to retiring in 2004, when she held the record for most international goals scored until 2013, Hamm played for the D.C.-based Washington Freedom from 2001-2003 as a founding player of the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), the country’s first professional soccer league for women.

She and Lilly were both on the U.S. national team that won the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991. They repeated in 1999, when Venturini was also on the team. All three women won gold medals at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, with Hamm and Lilly winning again in Athens, Greece, in 2004.

Friends since their days playing at the University of North Carolina, Hamm, Lilly and Venturini partnered in 2010 to launch TeamFirst with the goal of developing young players in an environment that encourages discipline and teamwork.

Last weekend’s camp in McLean was open to male and female players aged 6-17. Participants got a Nike t-shirt, Nike soccer ball, and autographed player card.

McLean Youth Soccer has over 3,000 players on more than 200 recreational teams and 70 travel teams. The nonprofit organization is currently working with the Fairfax County Park Authority to potentially install permanent restrooms at Lewinsville Park, one of several local fields that it regularly uses.

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