MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For Holly Manthei, soccer set the foundation for the rest of life. And she, a former Burnsville High School, turned 1995 World Cup player, was part of the foundation that set history.

“It just goes to show you that everybody who’s a part of all these generations do their part, and play their part, in making things that much better,” said US Women’s National Team captain Carli Lloyd when asked about the nation’s rich women’s soccer history, ahead of the team’s friendly in St. Paul.

Manthei was just 19 years old when she got called up, playing alongside legends like Michelle Akers and Mia Hamm.

“There’s just an indescribable pride that you have to wear the Team USA crest,” said Manthei. “Whether you suit up to play or are just cheering from the sideline, or whether you won a gold or a silver or a bronze.”

They won bronze in 1995, “won” being a loose term.

Fiercely competitive and unwilling to settle, little 19-year-old Holly took her third-place medal and promptly threw it in the trash. Twenty-four years later and she says she has no regrets.

“I wasn’t really used to losing,” said Manthei. “If you surveyed 100 people that have played in third-place games, they would all say, nobody wants to play in that third-place game.”

Today, that unapologetic character trait shows through other players, in other ways — like equal pay.

“They just don’t want it to be fair. They want what they deserve,” said Manthei. “And I think they know what they deserve.”

When asked whether they’re picking the right fight, Manthei said yes, saying the victory they had in the 2019 World Cup was a victory for players past and present.

It was, at the very least, proof that the days of empty bleachers and third place medals are, at least for now, things of the past. Not that Holly would have it any other way.

“It’s not whether you lose, it’s how do you respond to that failure,” said Manthei. “Because you’re going to have more, whether it’s in the workplace, whether it’s in life.

Christiane Cordero

Comments