A 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup medalist, Leslie Osborne (LO) recently became the fourth Santa Clara women's soccer player to have her jersey honored on Oct. 13 at halftime of the Broncos' game with BYU, joining Brandi Chastain, Danielle Slaton and Aly Wagner.
Osborne was a three-time All-American as well as the 2004 Honda Award Winner. She was named to the 2001 and 2004 College Cup All-Tournament team and was a two-time WCC Player of the Year. SantaClaraBroncos.com (SCB) recently talked with Osborne about her memories of 2001.
SCB: What have you been up to recently?
LO: I live in Boston now and have played two seasons here. I'm the captain for the Boston Breakers and really enjoying playing in Women's Professional Soccer. I have been on and off the United States Women National Team for the last few years so I primarily focus on my WPS play. Besides playing soccer, I am a Puma athlete and work with them a lot. I also do some broadcasting here and there, run my clinics and I am a head coach at a prep school out here in Boston. I'm getting use to the weather out here on the East Coast. I am trying to help spread the importance of women's soccer and being a role model.
SCB: What was your fondest memory of your experience with the national championship team?
LO: Wow, I have so many. I can't even tell you how many. Probably my freshman year is the best year at Santa Clara but that is tough to say because I had many. I moved from Wisconsin to California as an 18 year old away from my family and friends. I ended up having the best season and most memorable year of my career. From playing with Aly Wagner, Devvyn Hawkins and Danielle Slaton, to winning a National Championship, to starting every game, to having the best coaching staff, to coming to a new family and a new state. I loved it. I was so lucky. So I had a lot of memories. Scoring in the Final Four semifinal was pretty special.
SCB: What do you think was so special about that group?
LO: There were so many different personalities and everyone had a role. The leadership group was very special and helped me become a better person, player and leader. Everyone was so competitive once we were out on the field but we had so much fun off the field. We really bonded and knew we had something special. Jerry believed in us and we all bought in. It was a special group; everyone knew and believed.
SCB: How would you describe the team chemistry on that 2001 team?
LO: It was truly special. I was so nervous coming in as a freshman and had so much respect for all of the upper classmen. I knew my role, embraced it and tried to push myself and the team.
SCB: Specifically, what did this team do well?
LO: We did a lot of things well. I got to play with some of the best players in the country. So in terms of soccer, I got to play with the best and learn from the best. We focused on the details and took the season phase by phase. We didn't get ahead of ourselves and were very confident in what Jerry and the coaching staff said. I think staying in the moment and taking care of business phase by phase was really important.
SCB: How would you describe the moment that the buzzer rang and you were a national champion?
LO: Amazing. It was truly special. I have been part of many successful teams but this one stands out because of the team dynamics. I love thinking about how much I learned from the other players on my team and my coaches.
SCB: What characteristic of yours do you feel most contributed to helping the team win?
LO: On the field, I worked hard, scored goals and was tough. I also felt like I was a role player and did what was needed of me. Off the field, I felt like I tried to keep the group together, especially with having such a large class with 10 freshmen. I really bought into the team bonding and doing what I could to help the team be successful off the field, too.
SCB: What was the atmosphere like upon returning to Santa Clara after the game?
LO: All the love, support and all the new friends on campus I met because we won was special.
SCB: What do you miss most about playing for Santa Clara?
LO: It was truly my family. People say that, but it's really true. My coaches and teammates were, and still are, very important people in my life.
SCB: How do you think the experience of being a national champion has effected your life? What has it taught you?
LO: It has taught me countless memories, life long memories. Being a team player. Doing my role. How to be mentally tougher. Great coaching that I now use as a coach. Commitment, dedication and motivation. How to work as a team. How to be a good leader.