June 18, 2001
PHILADELPHIA - Mandy Clemens had the kind of college career most athletes can only dream of.
At Santa Clara University, she established herself as one of the elite players in the country and produced some mind-boggling numbers. In her 1999 season she played 24 games, scored 24 goals (that's a goal per game average for those without a calculator), and added 23 assists during a magical undefeated regular season for Santa Clara.
She finished her career with an amazing 67 goals and 65 assists. Just for good measure she won the Hermann Trophy, the Missouri Athletic Conference Player of the Year award, and the NSCAA Division I player of the year. She had a pretty good run.
But when she tried to take her game to the next level, the U.S. Women's national team, the success she enjoyed in college eluded her. She tasted national team honors last January when the U.S. regulars were renegotiating their contracts, appearing in three games at the Australia Cup. But when the Olympic team was being selected, there was no room for Mandy.
With stars such as Mia Hamm, Cindy Parlow, and Tiffeny Milbrett already established with the national team, Clemens couldn't crack into the lineup. It was then that she decided that maybe she needed a breather from soccer, so she packed up and went to Australia.
"I wanted to be away from soccer for a while," she said. "I was pretty disappointed about not getting asked into residency (for the Olympics). I was burned out and I wanted to just be Mandy, not Mandy-the-soccer-player."
As it turned out, soccer followed her to Australia and she couldn't stay away when her friends and teammates battled Norway for the gold in Sydney.
Back from her hiatus Down Under, Clemens has rediscovered the joy of soccer. She is rejuvenated and excited that the WUSA and Philadelphia Charge are giving her the chance to shine again.
"It's such an incredible opportunity that I am able to be a part of," she said. "I realized that I am very passionate about this sport, and the timing is right. Right now, this is what I want to do."
© womenssoccer.com 2001