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Kickin' It World Cup Style

Kickin' It World Cup Style

Posted: July 1, 2019

If you search “famous American soccer players” on Google, the top 20 results include only two women: Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach.

Even though women’s sports get far less coverage than men’s, the U.S. women’s national soccer team (USWNT) has won three World Cups and four Olympic gold medals, set record TV ratings, and earned massive revenues for FIFA and the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Longtime soccer fan and sports journalist Caitlin Murray, ’07, knew the USWNT had an incredible story. And she didn’t want to wait for someone else to tell it.

Murray, who has a bachelor’s degree in journalism, leveraged her professional experience in sports reporting and her personal passion for soccer to write her book.

“I felt like there was a lack of coverage of the women’s team leading up to this summer’s World Cup. I thought to myself, ‘I feel this way and I am a journalist, so why don’t I just provide the coverage?’”

Murray published The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer (Abrams Press, 2019), a 300-page book that chronicles the team’s history from the 1980s to the present, leading up to the 2019 World Cup.

Team USA’s popularity skyrocketed in 2015 after the USWNT won its first World Cup since 1999. The final between the United States and Japan was the most-watched soccer match in American history, with nearly 27 million viewers.

“There’s such a rich history worth digging into, I feel like the book could have been triple the size.” Murray said. Her book is the first nonfiction full-length work to provide a full history of the USWNT.

“The biggest challenge was coordinating interviews and tracking down players who had been out of the public eye for a while,” Murray said. “During my research for the book, I learned so many new stories and so much new information.”

Murray interviewed nearly 100 current and former players, coaches, and others involved with the USWNT.

“The book is not just for the soccer insider,” she said. “It can be read by people who love and follow soccer, or people who are interested in learning more about the team before the World Cup.”

Murray said journalism was the obvious choice of study when she enrolled at Buffalo State. “Journalism and the pursuit of asking questions always appealed to me.”

Her freelance work garnered attention from the Guardian, which hired her to cover the 2015 World Cup. She has written about soccer for the New York Times, ESPN, Fox Sports, and Yahoo Sports. Murray is based in Portland, Oregon (which she says is an incredible soccer city). She will also be a Guardian correspondent again for this summer’s World Cup.

As a college student, Murray interned at the Tonawanda News as a part-time reporter and later went on to work for the Niagara Gazette and the Buffalo News. She said the real-world experiences she received through internships and classroom assignments provided a solid foundation for her career.

“When I got my first job, I felt prepared because it’s what I had been doing already as a student,” she said.

Murray said being a successful journalist requires tenacity and personal drive.

“I would tell an aspiring journalist to always keep writing, find freelance work, build relationships, and avoid writing for free if you can,” she said. “You can’t expect things to just happen for you. You have to push yourself to make things happen.”

Her book, The National Team, is available in Barnes & Noble locations across the country and at online retailers like Amazon. The USWNT’s won its first match of the World Cup, against Thailand, and went on to defeat Chile, Spain, and Sweden. The team beat France in the quarterfinal round and will now advance to the semi-finals where they face England.

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