NEW YORK CITY, NY – The American Women’s Soccer Team, winners of the World Cup, celebrated their victory today in a ticker-tape parade up the renamed “Canyon of Heroines” in New York City. Carli Lloyd of Denville, New Jersey, winner of the championship’s Most Valuable Player Award, beamed with joy and a sense of fun on the float that also bore Mayor Bill DeBlasio and the World Cup trophy.
This parade was the first ever to celebrate an entire team of women representing the United States in any sport, though individual women have been honored before. Television viewing statistics for the final game set records for both soccer viewing and the viewing of women's athletics.
Amy Rodriguez and Tobin Heath shouted, “Go, U.S.A.!” as they interacted with the excited crowd. Heath, a winner of two Olympic gold medals, was born in Morristown and grew up in Basking Ridge before attending the University of North Carolina. According to Linda Sadlouskas, “Tobin was an extremely talented player when she arrived at Ridge and made an immediate impact on the girls’ soccer team as a freshman. She had a fantastic career here, and she was able to juggle her high school and national age group team commitments through her junior year. As a player she was very unassuming about her talents. She fit in well with her teammates and was a great teammate herself. It was always about the success of the team and not any individual accolades or reward.”
The victory represented social movement and empowerment on many levels. The floats bore the emblem “One Nation. One Team,” speaking to the unity between the Women’s team and their fans who represented a diversity of backgrounds. Earlier this week, Carli Lloyd countered a reporter from Sports Illustrated who stated that women’s sports were “not worth watching” by stating in an interview withi Katie Couric, “I think that what we do out on the field is oftentimes a little bit better than what men do,” said Lloyd, who won Golden Ball honors as the Women’s World Cup’s top player. “I don’t think that we flop around as much. I think we’re tough. I mean, I’ve got battle wounds on my legs from the turf and sliding. And we’re gritty. And we’re feisty. And I think that I would never back down from a guy. I’m a competitor and would always offer a challenge.”
Lloyd, 32, who grew up in Delran, New Jersey and graduated Rutgers University in 2004, showed leadership throughout the series. She was the primary scorer in the semifinal and final games. Since returning home from Canada where the finals were held, Lloyd has been the primary spokesperson for the team, appearing on news programs and Live with Kelly and Michael waving the banner not only for the American team but also for the role of women in sports. She is a champion for champions, never taking credit for her amazing success on her own.
New Jersey’s Christie Rampone, 40, grew up in Point Pleasant and attended PPBoro High School where she was an outstanding soccer and basketball player. She graduated with a degree in Special Education from Monmouth University in 1996. She was the oldest player in the World Cup games, and the second-most often “capped.” (Capping is a reference to the number of international games in which a player has participated, with each cap representing a different country.) On WPIX Channel 11 news, Rampone called herself the “ultimate soccer mom,” and she was joined in today’s parade by her husband, two daughters, father, and other family members who were there because “New Jersey has to represent.” She asserted that “Being a Jersey Girl and having a ticker tape parade – well, it doesn’t get much better than this!”
East Brunswick’s own Heather O’Reilly (30) graduated from EBHS in 2002, after leading the girls’ soccer team to a state championship in her junior year. She then attended the University of North Carolina, moving the team to National Championships in 2003 and 2006. She has won a gold medal in the Olympics three times. O’Reilly tweeted that she was proud that “Obama told the National Team that they’ve inspired a whole generation of young women.” Indeed, O’Reilly has continued to support athletic programs here in East Brunswick and has been the benefactor of several athletic awards for the Bears. Recently, O’Reilly has been tweeting with major women’s soccer fan Tom Hanks, spreading even more enthusiasm for the sport.
It was big day today for the USA, for women, for soccer and for a few Jersey girls who keep hitting the target.