Her fame in soccer circles is worldwide and her competitive spirit is legendary, which explains why this Littleton-reared kicker is the first female athlete to be featured on a trading card.
Few women have had a greater opportunity to make an impact on their sport than April, who in November 1991, in China, led the United States to victory in the first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup tournament.
The 2-1 final-round triumph over Norway marked the first time Americans of either sex or any age level had won an international competition in soccer. It also represented 20-years of patience and preparation for the 27-year-old team captain from Colorado whose zeal was instrumental in the milestone achievement.
Serving as liaison between players and coach, April assumed responsibility for team morale and scored five critical goals during the round-robin tournament, despite playing on a still-tender, surgically repaired knee.
As a teenager, the 5-foot-4 dynamo was an All-State, All-America standout at Heritage High School and a three-year national age group competitor with a Colorado all-star team.
At the University of North Carolina, she was a four-time All-America, two-time Collegiate Player of the Year, all-time leading scorer and set the NCAA career scoring record for women with 225 points. After leading her Tar Heels team to three NCAA championships, she was dubbed “Female Soccer Player of the Decade” by a leading sports magazine.
Named to the U. S. National Team in 1985, April spent the next five years honing her leadership skills around the world, laying down a blueprint for that pinnacle 1991 moment in Canton. She also played two years professionally in Italy.
Now head soccer coach at the University of Maryland, the Sportswomen Hall of Famer heads the Olympic Development Program for Women in Maryland and is the first woman instructor for the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.
Just when we thought April Heinrichs couldn’t possibly become a bigger star, she did. Ever since she won 2 state soccer championships at Heritage High School, followed by 3 NCAA championships at the University of North Carolina and her glory days with the U.S. National Team she has been doing just that, becoming a bigger and brighter star.
This 3-time college All-American was the lead scorer on the team when the United States won the World Cup in 1991 and wrapped up an unprecedented playing career with an astounding 38 goals in 47 games.
Remember that famous 1996 gold medal won by the U.S. women? The dynasty we all watched with pride is one that started with this woman and her teammates. Before Brandi Chastain and Mia Hamm there were groundbreaking players like April Heinrichs, playing to crowds of dozens and maybe hundreds, not thousands.
But that’s all right with her, since 1991, as a coach, she’s been reaping victories on the stage she set as a player. In 5 years as head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team, she led her squads to a silver medal in the 2000 Olympics, 3rd place in the 2003 World Cup and gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
In 1991 she was our Sportswoman of the Year too, the year she and the U.S. Women’s National Team took the World Cup Championship. She can now add this award to her bright and shining career, she was an athlete like no other, she is the coach of all coaches and she is our 2005 Sportswoman of the Year!