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Heather Mitts "3 Time Olympic Champion"



Heather Mitts "3 Time Olympic Champion"
Heather Mitts recently retired from the game after a decorated career, where she participated in 2 World Cups and won 3 Olympic Gold Medals. Her most memorable game was in the final of the Olympic Gold match vs Brazil in 2008 where she clinically shut down Marta and kept her of the score sheet. The USA went on to win gold and Heather’s contribution was a key factor.
Heather spent 8 years training at Universal Soccer Academy.  During that time, Universal Soccer Academy staff was able to build a program specific for Heather that focused on taking her skills to a new level and making her more comfortable when in possession of the ball. Her attacking game improved and she reached her peak while attending Universal Soccer Academy.
Heather is still active with the Academy where she spends time speaking to our students about the demands of the game and overcoming obstacles.
You have been working closely with James Galanis of Universal Soccer Academy for 4 years now. Please explain how he has impacted your career?

From the minute I started training with James, he improved my game. I’ve always relied on my athleticism but he improved my technical side of the game. I credit my comeback after my ACL to James. I couldn’t have done it without him. I missed the World Cup and 8 months. He trained me twice a day and worked on my ball work and fitness to get me back out there to compete. I didn’t skip a beat, thanks to James. I was able to be a starter on the Olympic Gold Medal team. He is the master.

Please talk a little about the training program you are going through at the Academy. What was the focus of your training when you first started and what is the focus now?

At first, it was to become more technical. I just wanted to be a solid defender who could attack and possess. Now it’s about becoming an attacking personality down the flank. Working on my service and mixing up my game.

We hear that you have spent a lot of time playing soccer Volley Ball at the Blue Barn and that you are the only person to have beaten your trainer James Galanis? Is this true?
Haha. You should have seen me when I first started. I was awful. I played tennis growing up so I used it to my advantage while working the angles that day. Think James underestimated me that one time and I had the game of my life. It wouldn’t happen again!

You are a seasoned veteran with over 100 caps for the USA Women’s National Team. If you could go back and do it all over again what would you do different?

I would have started training with James from a young age. When you are young is when you learn the technique that stays with you. Plus he knows the game inside and out. He has improved my game so much in 4 years. I can only imagine what he could have done with me with more time! Carli is a lucky girl and its all paying off and will continue to.

In the Olympic Final against Brazil you were given the hard task of marking Marta. At the end of the day Brazil did not score and Marta failed to get a rhythm or impact the game. What tactic did you and your defense use to shut her down?
Marta is one of the best in the world no doubt. The goal is always to keep her back to goal and not let her face up and go at us. She has amazing speed so just trying to defend in numbers and always have cover. After awhile she gets frustrated and starts dropping into the midfield to get the ball. We would much rather have her dropping in that part of the field then where she is more dangerous up top. It was definitely a full team effort. Then we just left the rest up to Carli.

With 2 Olympic Gold Medals in your cabinet, is the World Cup 2011 your next Medal? That’s the goal right now.
I have yet to play in a World Cup so playing and winning would be the ultimate way to retire.
You are back in Philadelphia with the Independence. How has your season been thus far and what goals to you have set for this year?
I’m excited to be playing in philly again and to be back on the right. Last season was very frustrating. Our team didn’t make the play-offs and I was playing a new position. I hope that this year is different. My goal is to help my team win the WPS. Personally I’d like to continue improving my attacking down the flanks, get at least 5 assists and make the All-Star team.

How much longer do you plan to play?
If we win the World Cup, I would consider ending my international career. Otherwise I’d have to go for one more gold in London.

Have you thought about retirement? Or are you still improving and have a lot left to give to the game?
I love playing and have so much further I’d like to go but I definitely want to go out on top.

What words of wisdom can you give to any upcoming youngster?

Never take no for an answer. I’ve pretty much made my career out of overcoming adversity. From the time I was little and playing ODP. Coaches that cut me or told me I wasn’t good at something to broken bones and an acl. I took all those set backs as motivation. When you tell me I can’t do something, I will make sure I do everything in my power to show you I can or atleast do my best trying. For the first 3 years of my National Team career, I only made 1 roster a year. Every other time I would get cut. That one time is all it took to give me that motivation that if I worked hard enough, I would make it next time. Look where I am now. So essentially set your goals high but attainable. Do everything possible to get there and love what you do.





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