Hope Solo is the face of the modern female athlete. She is fearless, outspoken, and the best in the world at what she does: protecting the goal of the U.S. women's soccer team. Her outsized talent has led her to the pinnacle of her sport—the Olympics and the World Cup—and made her into an international celebrity who is just as likely to appear on ABC's Dancing with the Stars as she is on the covers of Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, and Vogue. But her journey—which began in Richland, Washington, where she was raised by her strong-willed mother on the scorched earth of defunct nuclear testing sites—is similarly haunted by the fallout of her family history. Her father, a philanderer and con man, was convicted of embezzlement when Solo was an infant. She lost touch with him as he drifted out of prison and into homelessness. By the time they reunited, years later, in the parking lot of a grocery store, she was an All-American goalkeeper at the University of Washington and already a budding prospect for the U.S. national team. He was living in the woods.
Despite harboring serious doubts even about the provenance of her father's last name (and her own), Solo embraces him as fiercely as she pursues her dreams of being a world-class soccer player. When those dreams are threatened by her standing within the national team, as when she was famously benched in the semifinals of the 2007 World Cup after four shutouts and spoke her piece publicly, we see a woman of uncompromising independence and hard-won perseverance navigate the petty backlash against her. For the first time, she tells her version of that controversial episode, and offers with it a full understanding of her hard-scrabble life.
Amy Donaldson, Deseret News, had a bit of a different take on dad:
Her father taught her to play soccer, but the damage done to him by the Vietnam war took him from her childhood. Instead of helping her navigate life, he spent 12 years homeless in Seattle, Washington. He attended every one of her college games at the University of Washington while living in a tent a few miles from the campus.
Some children would have asked for more. But for Solo, his affection was enough.
She understood that the demons he battled had nothing to do with her, and she credits him with instilling in her "an athlete's mentality."
That is, she said, that there are no excuses. While some may have found his life a tragedy of missed opportunities, she saw something else.
Solo told ESPN on the eve of the game that she "looked at him as someone who struggled through life, who had hardships, but found a way through everything. He found peace and happiness in everything."
He died of a heart attack in 2007 — just two months before she and her U.S. teammates played for the World Cup. Devastated that he never saw her represent her country, she dedicated the season to him.
She even spread his ashes in the goal before each game. And then, without an explanation and after three years as the U.S. team's starting goalie, U.S. head coach Greg Ryan pulled her from the starting line up for the quarterfinal match against Brazil.
Angry, confused and disappointed, she watched as her team lost a game, 4-0, she'd dedicated to her father.
Seattle PI has yet another view (complete with book quotes):
Born in Richland, Wash., she was conceived during one of her mother’s conjugal visits to Walla Walla State Penitentiary while her father was serving a prison sentence for embezzlement. To this day, Hope doesn’t know everything about her dad, Jeffrey John Solo, whom despite his faults Hope obviously loved dearly. She didn’t even know his real name was Jeffrey until years later, when she saw it in a police report; she knew him as Gerry, though he also went by the nicknames Johnny and Tony.
Good luck figuring that all out.
Why not click the Google +1 & the retweet buttons?
**Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe, or Return to BobsBlitz.com.