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Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Updated: July 10, 3:36 PM ET
ESPYS Interview Series: Brandi Chastain

By Shannon Cross
ESPN.com

Brandi Chastain
Brandi Chastain celebrates after scoring the game-winning penalty kick in the 1999 World Cup.

Typically, a superstar is a person who has a special talent or defining moment that sends him/her to "superstar status."

For soccer phenom Brandi Chastain, her defining moment was at the 1999 Women's World Cup. Her bra-baring celebration after nailing a game-winning penalty kick against China is forever branded in our minds. With a humbled heart, a giving spirit and more than 17,000 followers on Twitter, Chastain insists the most gratifying part of being a superstar is the opportunity to give back.

The ESPY Awards are a few months away. What's your most memorable moment from the awards?

"In 2000, when we went to the ESPYS as a team. We were nominated for Most Outstanding Team that year. Seeing our entire team all dressed up was pretty memorable, because we always see each other sweat. It was fun! Women's soccer isn't something that's always in the spotlight, so the exposure was great."

What's one of the best sports moments you've experienced?

"When the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. The sad thing about that for me is my grandfather passed away right before they won. He was a huge Giants fan, watched every game religiously and wore his Giants hat he's had for at least 30 years. I actually got to throw out the first pitch a few times for the Giants and one time he came with me. He got to stand with me on the mound while I threw out the pitch, and I don't think I've seen a grown man as excited as my grandfather was to be on the field at AT&T Park. It made him so happy. For me, it was a wonderful moment. I had excelled in my sport, and it gave me a chance to bring him down to the field, in front of a team that he had been cheering on his entire life."

For some people, your penalty kick in the 1999 World Cup was one of the most memorable sports moments ever. Can you describe how it felt to kick the winning goal?

"The execution of the kick was normal. As I walked up to the goalkeeper, I kept telling myself, 'Don't look at the goalkeeper,' because she had psyched me out in a penalty-kick situation earlier in the year and I missed. I was actually very calm before the infamous kick. The stadium was unusually quiet for 90,000-plus people in attendance, but I'm glad I didn't let that kind of silence make the situation nerve-racking. Once the whistle blew, I just did what I've always done. What ensued was the excitement of fulfilling a lifelong dream of being a kid on the playground and coming through, winning it all for your team. It became insanity."

What was it like playing with Mia Hamm?

"It was great. She's a true competitor, and she's the kind of person who comes to practice every day to get better, and having to chase her around the field as a defender made all the other players seem easy. She is the epitome of hard work."

We're approaching the 40th anniversary of Title IX. How has it affected you?

"I'm living proof that Title IX can truly impact and change people's lives. Having an opportunity to go to college on a scholarship was great because my family wasn't wealthy. I ended up going to Santa Clara University, which is a private institution, and it wasn't cheap. Title IX afforded me the opportunity to get a college education. Ultimately, people need to remember that Title IX is an educational bill not a sports bill."

Which events have contributed to increasing the exposure to and raising awareness of women's sports?

"Everyone can look back to the 1996 Olympics. They were dubbed the women's Olympics because basketball, softball, track and field and soccer all excelled. There are so many women that came before us like Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Nancy Lopez -- the list goes on and on of women who continued to play the sport they loved in great adversity. We have to look back at the women who came before us and not only have a great amount of gratitude but respect, and we have to know the history because I can't imagine a world where girls didn't participate in sports."

Your son is almost 6 years old. What will you teach him about Title IX?

"He already knows about Title IX because I run a nonprofit organization called the Bay Area Women's Sports Initiative, where we get girls to improve their health and wellness through activity. We bring the collegiate female student-athlete to the playground of Title I schools, which are schools where 51 percent or more students live under the poverty line, and we expose them to great female role models. My older boy Cameron [her stepson] is now 23 years old, and he's been to the World Cup, the Olympics, and he came to Greece, so my boys have grown up with female athletes in their lives. They understand the significance."

Will you be attending the Olympics?

"I'll be doing commentary for NBC. I take off in July."

You've definitely experienced a lot of amazing things. What are you the most proud of?

"Every day I'm getting better as a parent, and I lean on my sports information to be a better parent, and it's way harder than anything I ever experienced on the soccer field. I'm proud of it because I really want to raise boys that are compassionate and conscientious and understand how they can be a positive part of our community, so I try to live those examples I learned on the soccer field and share that with my boys."

What do you think of the current U.S. team?

"I think they're very talented. They have tremendous upside. Back in the old days, we got by on being more athletic, and now you have to be better. The current U.S. team needs to improve on their athleticism. Japan's a perfect example of doing things the right way, improving and perfecting it will pay dividends, and I think we saw that last year in Germany. You can't ignore the technical side of the game. Nothing can overcome preparation, and I think that's where Japan had an upper hand."

What type of music do you listen to before a game? Who are some of your favorite music artists?

"I love to dance, so probably Beyoncé or Jennifer Hudson. I'm not too particular. I like to listen to it all."

Did anyone on the team have terrible music taste?

"Well, Julie Foudy is a terrible singer and she loved to sing in the locker room, and it was painful. Everyone knew it was coming and she would still do it. Even to this day, when it's your birthday, she'll call and sing and it's like, 'Oh God, if you want to give me a gift, just stop singing!' It's the gift you wish you could give back. [Laughs.] We're still really great friends."