Sept. 9, 2002
By Jessie Mangaliman
San Jose Mercury News
Lark Chastain, the devoted soccer mom who raised a daughter to become an Olympic star, died in her sleep overnight Friday in her San Jose home. The cause of her death is unknown.
She was 56.
Ms. Chastain, who owned and operated an employment agency in San Jose, was the mother of Brandi Chastain, midfielder and defender for the San Jose CyberRays who catapulted into fame during the 1999 Women's World Cup championship.
"Our team is like a big family, and Lark was like the ultimate soccer mom to all of us," said Marlene Bjornsrud, general manager of the CyberRays and a family friend.
"It's so unexpected that Roger, along with the rest of us are still in shock," Bjornsrud said of Lark Chastain's husband, Roger.
Brandi Chastain learned of her mother's death while in Columbus, Ohio. She was there for an exhibition game of the U.S. Women's Soccer team against a team from Scotland. She decided to play in honor of her mother, Bjornsrud said.
"Brandi had a conviction. It's what her mom would want her to do," Bjornsrud said.
A former flight attendant, Lark Chastain devoted much of her time to raising her two children, her close friends said. From her early years, Brandi Chastain was an inveterate sports enthusiast, Ms. Chastain told interviewers. She tried to steer her daughter toward ballet and tap dancing, but by age 10 Brandi was hooked on soccer, and her mother was her biggest supporter.
"What I remember most about Lark was her enthusiasm and love for life," said Tish Venturini, a member of the CyberRays and a friend of the Chastain family.
"She was in every game and every team event. She was supporting and loving of everyone. A lot of the players didn't have their moms there at the games, and she was always there with a big smile and big hug.
Our team is like a big family, and Lark was like the ultimate soccer mom to all of us.
San Jose CyberRays general manager
"When we lost a game, she'd give you a hug and you couldn't help but feel better," Venturini said.
Ms. Chastain embraced her daughter's athletic world and traveled often with the team even as she attended to the operation of her employment agency, said Jody Meacham, spokesman for the CyberRays and a family friend.
When three Brazilian team members joined the CyberRays a year ago, Ms. Chastain and Brandi cooked a meal for them at Brandi's house.
"She knew they were a long way from home, and she wanted to welcome them on their first day. That's the kind of person she was," Meacham said.
Besides her husband, Roger, and her daughter, Brandi, Ms. Chastain is survived by her son Chad, also of San Jose. Information on services was not available Sunday.