- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 7, 2001

The Washington Freedom's Amanda Cromwell has made a valuable contribution of late to the team's defense, but she'll be the first to say that her contributions on the field pale in comparison to the ones her father, Jim, have made to the Women's United Soccer Association.
Amanda knows that if it weren't for people like her father there probably would not be a WUSA.
Jim played a pivotal role in making women's soccer a medal sport at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. At that time, Jim was a legislative aide to various congressmen, including Jack Kemp, and wrote several bills that were read before the House of Representatives. His daughter kept copies of those bills.
The Atlanta Olympics provided this country's first look into what turned out to be a run of unparalleled success with the U.S. women's national team. Three years after the Atlanta games, the United States played host to the 1999 Women's World Cup.
For nearly a month, the U.S. team captured hearts from coast to coast and dominated headlines on the way to winning the Cup. Now, two years removed from Brandi Chastain's famous pose in her sports bra, the world's first professional women's soccer league (WUSA) is in full swing in its first season.
"On the political side, he got things moving in D.C. and that was a big help to get women's soccer as a medal sport," Amanda said of her father. "He's just been a fan of the game. He really didn't play soccer when he was young. He was into basketball. When I was young, he was coaching my teams, or being the team manager. He always wanted to be involved. He reaps the benefits as well by seeing what happened because of his efforts."
Amanda Cromwell, 31, grew up in Annandale and played at Virginia. From 1991 to '98, she earned 55 caps playing for the U.S. national team and says her greatest soccer moment was running around the field in Athens, Ga., celebrating the first-ever women's soccer gold medal a medal Jim Cromwell was instrumental in bringing to the nation.
"That's one of the reasons we are really proud of having her on our team," said Freedom coach Jim Gabarra. "Any time you can bring in a player with local ties and the grassroots efforts really paid off. [Her family] can come out here and watch her on the weekends rather than watching her on TV or having to travel."
Today, the Freedom (5-5-2) visit the second-place Atlanta Beat (5-1-6). With nine games left in the season, the game will go a long way in determining Washington's playoff position.
Two games ago, Gabarra called upon Cromwell to steady the Freedom's shaky backline. Gabarra switched Cromwell from defensive midfield to right back to replace 5-foot-3 Skylar Little. In the early part of the season, Gabarra wanted to develop the 23-year-old Little, because Cromwell might not be around in four or five years.
"She's done everything we asked her to do," Gabarra said. "She's provided the team with experience and leadership. We always knew she was a great defensive player and very experienced defensive player. What we were doing for the first part of the season, we were investing in some younger players. In Skylar's case, she had a bad game. She's the one out now because Amanda is in and she's got to wait for either Amanda or [Lindsay] Stoecker to have a bad game."
Gabarra's adjustment paid off in the Freedom's 2-0 shutout over the Carolina Courage last Saturday at RFK Stadium. Cromwell helped shut down the Courage's left flank and prevented the last-place Courage from getting good chances against Freedom backup goalkeeper Erin Fahey.
"I really enjoy having her back there because she does bring a lot of leadership and intensity to the back," said Stoecker, the Freedom's central defender. "She knows the kind of pressure that you are playing under and you do have to step it up and play quickly. Another dimension she brings to the back is that she is really comfortable with the ball at her feet and she is really comfortable at distributing, which not only helps our defense, but creates an attack."

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