San Diego finale

Joy Fawcett, an Olympic Gold Medallist and World Cup Champion, gave birth on June 5 to her third child Madilyn Rae Fawcett. Each week on ESPN.com, Joy will reveal her personal challenges and triumphs related to her comeback for the WUSA's San Diego Spirit, as well as offer tips that women can use to reach their active goals.

Aug. 16

The San Diego Spirit's season has been quite incredible for me. I came back six weeks after giving birth to Madilyn and contributed to the Spirit's run for the playoffs. Although we did not make the final cut, I was still satisfied with our team's strong finish and the obstacles we overcame along the way. Many people were skeptical about the implementation of a women's professional soccer league, however the Spirit managed to play in front of sellout crowds full of devoted fans. As individuals, we balanced other responsibilities and priorities, and as a team, we prevailed through a rough start in the season and finished with an even record of 7-7-7.

Our last game on Sunday was a great parallel to our season. We started off with nothing to lose because Philadelphia had already earned the fourth playoff spot, yet we played our hearts out until the end. In the second half, we picked up the pace and tied up the game with only minutes to spare. Shannon MacMillan's incredible goal in the last minute lifted our "Spirits" and ended the season with a lasting memory. Torero Stadium was full of enthusiastic fans and tons of support and it was clear that both the Spirit and its fans would be back next year.

The team was so proud and impressed with the fans that we wanted to give them something back to help them realize how much we appreciated their patronage. At the conclusion of our final game on Sunday, we shared our homemade team video with the crowd. It was our way to say thank you for all the support and let them know that next year we promise to make the games more exciting from the get go!

I've said it numerous times before, but my family's support has played an instrumental role in my success. I've also been fortunate enough to have friends and corporate support behind me as well. With ERA Max, the official laundry detergent of the WUSA, supporting my comeback since day one, I was able to share my experiences with people all over the world through my weekly journals. The fans and everyone have been so supportive and I just hope they know how much I value them.

I have been doing a lot of media interviews lately, including the Today Show, USA Today and New York Times. This has given me a chance to let people across the nation know how wonderful my comeback has been and how it couldn't be possible without everyone's extensive support. When the opportunity to appear as the "Ultimate Soccer Mom" on the Today Show came along, I got so anxious that I nearly forgot to tell my parents to tune in. The funny thing is that in my book, my mom a woman who managed to raise eight children and survive, will always be the Ultimate Mom.

Joy Fawcett's Weekly Workout

In Your Final Stretch
As you get closer to your fitness goals, you will probably find yourself physically demanding a lot from your body. Although your commitment and passion have been vital in reaching your goals, it is also important to remember to thoroughly stretch. With thoughts of playoffs in my mind last week, I made sure that I was in the best shape I could be in, but I also made sure that I was stretching all my muscles to prevent any last minute injuries. Below are some key examples of my training. Please make sure to check with your physician before beginning any strenuous activity.

Cardio: This week I did a lot of interval training to keep up my speed and endurance. A great way to start interval training is by jumping on a treadmill, that way you can monitor your speed and heart rate. Regardless of the level you're at, start with a slow pace and gradually work your way up to a sprint or comfortable speed. Below are a few variations you may want to try.

Weights/Strength: I continued my weekly strength training with weights, as should you, but I also focused on the importance of stretching. Stretching will help increase your flexibility and reduce the risk of injury. Below are two stretches that all levels can use in their training. With each exercise, hold the stretch for at least 15 seconds, and do not bounce. Repeat each stretch 6 to 8 times.

Groin stretch
Sit in a butterfly position with the soles of your feet together, your back straight, your head up, and your elbows on the inside of your knees. Then slowly push down on the inside of your knees with your elbows. You should feel the stretch along the inside of your thighs.

Quadriceps stretch
Stand straight with one leg bent behind you. Grasp the foot of your bent leg with your hand and slowly pull your heel to your buttocks. You should feel the stretch in the front of your thigh.

Challenges: Knowing that our last game did not have playoff significance was difficult to grasp as an athlete. However, the game still had importance to us as a team so, I was determined to keep my focus on the game and challenge myself to play at the most competitive level I could.

Personal Triumph: Making a comeback and finishing the season strong was overall one of the greatest things I've accomplished this season. I can now look back at the Spirit's season and easily say that I'm glad to be back in the game.

ERA Max, the official laundry detergent of the Women's United Soccer Association, celebrates Joy Fawcett's return to action for the inaugural season.
ERA Max is proud to go beyond providing a detergent that tackles tough stains by inspiring other women to enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle.