Pacific Lutheran Scene, Summer 1999
[Pacific Lutheran Scene]
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Sports

Hacker wraps up her last year as sport psychologist for women's national soccer team with a trip to the 1999 World Cup Tournament

B Y  N I C K   D A W S O N ,  S P O R T S  E D I T O R

Colleen Hacker
Colleen Hacker, like most fans of world-class women's soccer, will be watching with great interest this summer as the United States hosts the 1999 Women's World Cup soccer tournament. This quadrennial event will bring together 16 nations in a battle for global women's soccer supremacy.
      But unlike the "football" fanatic who will fork over $25 and more for a stadium seat, or the casual viewers on ESPN, Hacker's perspective will be up close and personal.
      That's because since 1995, she has served as the sport psychologist for the U.S. women's national soccer team. As she did when the American women's team won Olympic Gold in 1996, Hacker will take her seat on the bench with U.S. head coach Tony DiCicco and other support personnel during the 1999 World Cup. This is her last year with the team.
      It's a place — and a task — Hacker couldn't have envisioned back in 1995 when she was first invited as a guest coach to attend the U.S. team training camp in San Diego.
      "Things went very well. I thought that would be the pinnacle of my career," recalls Hacker, who as Pacific Lutheran women's soccer coach from 1981-95 led the Lutes to 232 wins and three NAIA national titles —earning national coach of the year honors three times.
      Indeed, her interaction with the players and coaching staff not only went well, it earned her an invitation — heartily endorsed by the players — from DiCicco to serve as the team's full-time sport psychologist. For the past four years, Hacker has balanced a one-weekend-a-month (and sometimes more) national team commitment with her teaching and administrative duties in the PLU School of Physical Education.
      "I had to think long and hard about that decision. In all of our lives there have to be priorities," says Hacker, who recently returned from a weekend trip with the national team for a "friendly" match against the team's top rival, China.
      "My commitment to PLU is first, then comes my commitment to the national team." After that comes the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, where Hacker serves as one of 35 members of the national coaching staff, and finally, as the busy Hacker says, "everything else in the world." With such a full plate, Hacker has had to turn down plenty of dream opportunities, such as working with the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League.
      Working with a wide range of players — from 17 to 33 years old, many single, some married with children, a handful with barely a dime to their name and others in the millionaire category — Hacker has found ways to help the players blend their talents to become one of the world's best women's soccer teams.
Olympic Ring

      Her work proved to be crucial in helping the United States turn the corner from 1995 World Cup runner-up to 1996 Olympic Games champion. "What Tony found is that the difference in 1996 compared to 1995, after a year of psychological skills training, was a sense of confidence and all the things that come with that," says Hacker.
      Last month, Hacker relocated to the team's training base in Florida where she will work through the duration of the World Cup competition, June 19-July 10. She is meeting with the players, observing, listening and spending long hours preparing personalized audio and video tapes to help their mental preparation for each tournament game. She will emphasize positive self-talk, communication and mental imagery.
      Hacker has met with as many as eight different players in a day when the squad is in training. In the team's recent contest against China, she had individual sessions with four of the women on game day. All of this was done with the express purpose of helping the United States to retain its status as the best in the world.
      "There's a relationship and a role I have with the team that is unique," admits Hacker. "If I was the coach, I wouldn't have it." Another role she has, and one she relishes, is that of fan.
      "I'm so amazed at who they are and what they do on the field with the ball," says Hacker. "I'm working with and watching what will be known in 100 years from now as the world's greatest soccer players. I love what I do."


Sports Notes

PLU Women's Basketball
Women's basketball team makes it to NCAA Division III quarterfinals
Above, women's basketball head coach Gil Rigell, far left, and the Lute bench jump to their feet after center Tara Millet '00 scored the winning basket in the last second of play during the March 3 first-round game of the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament against Cal Lutheran. The Lutes won two more games before losing on March 13, one win short of a berth in the national tournament semifinals. The team in 1999 posted a best-ever season record of 22-6, and Rigell was named Northwest Conference coach of the year. [goes with photo of Lute bench jumping;

And in other PLU sports news:

More women's basketball notes: Center Tara Millet's '00 standout year included being named the Northwest Conference MVP. With a year left to play, she ranks sixth in all-time PLU women's basketball scoring first in all-time rebounding. She also garnered NWC first-team honors for the second straight year, while guard Becky Franza '02 was named to the NWC second team.

Tara Millet
Center Tara Millet '00 (#32) works around a George Fox Bruin to make the shot.
Former team member, guard Kim Corbray '98, the all-time leading scorer for PLU women's basketball, was named female area college athlete of 1998 by The News Tribune.

Men's basketball news: Point guard Tim Kelly '00 finished the season as the leader in assists NCAA Division III. Forward Brad Brevet '99 was named to the Northwest Conference first team, while center Brad McKnight '99 made it on the NWC second team.

PLU teams win first place in Northwest Conference: Congratulations to the softball team, men's and women's track, and men's and women's tennis, all of which took first place in NWC regular-season play. See the Fall 1999 Scene for a wrap-up on postseason action.

Men's and women's golf each took second this year in NWC rankings.

The men's and women's "varsity eight" crew teams were seeded eighth and 12th, respectively, in the West as they headed to the Pacific Coast Rowing Championships in May.

Baseball: Second baseman Jay Chennault '99 and outfielder Brian Farman '01 made the All-Northwest Conference baseball team.

Lutes, Westering earn No. 1 nod: PLU won the John Heinrick Award as the Northwest's top small-college football team of 1998, and Coach Frosty Westering was voted coach of the year in balloting for Little All-Northwest honors. The Lutes' 8-2 season included a berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs, where they lost to St. John's University in the first round.

Mandy Flores
Mandy Flores '00, third base, gears up to help make an out against Seattle U.

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