Angela Hucles made history at the University of Virginia, and she’s still making history as a professional.
Tall and quick with superior field vision and possession skills, Hucles (Col ’00) set Virginia career records as a student with 59 goals and 138 points from 1996 to 1999.
Hucles went on to play three seasons with the Boston Breakers of the Women’s United Soccer Association (2001-03) before establishing herself as a stalwart on the U.S. national team. She helped Team USA win Olympic gold in Athens in 2004 and in Beijing last summer, and was a reserve member of World Cup teams in 2003 and 2007. Now the Virginia Beach native is back as a midfielder in a Breakers uniform for the debut season of Women’s Professional Soccer.
“It’s been an amazing decade,” she says.
How’s the new league doing?
It’s great. I’m thrilled to be back in Boston with this team. I actually haven’t really left since 2001, but I’m excited to be with this organization. It’s a little bit different for me, helping the league get off the ground.
What’s it like making a living in a professional sport that’s still struggling to find long-term viability?
It’s interesting because you have skeptics and you have people who are kind of questioning why this league is even starting right now. But all the investors and people involved really do look at this as an opportunity for the league to be successful. I feel that even with the economic times, people still want entertainment and people still want something positive to hold on to.
After playing for coach April Heinrichs at Virginia, what was it like playing for her with the national team?
I thought it was great. Playing with the national team, there’s so much intensity and competition and stepping into a world of unfamiliarity. … Having April there as a coach was something that, [while] I never felt like she did anything for me that I didn’t deserve for myself, it’s a familiar face. She was someone who I kind of knew what to expect from, and I knew what she expected from me.
Talk about your path to becoming a regular with the national team. You were a college all-star, but it took time.
I think consistency makes you a successful player, because everyone will have bad days, bad games. The faster that you can pick yourself out of that slump and out of that bad place, so to speak, is what helps you really maintain your success and maintain your productivity on the field. … I remember hearing an interview with Mia Hamm, and she was saying how there were times where she didn’t have confidence in herself or didn’t feel like she was really the best player. I remember hearing that when I was younger and I was like, “How can Mia Hamm feel that way?” But as I got older, I could understand what she was talking about. Being on that team, you have such a high standard for yourself.
What parts of your game did you have to elevate?
I think it was a little bit of everything. For me, just having more of a defensive presence. I had been a forward for a large part of my soccer playing, and so that was definitely something I worked on, especially being a midfielder, because there’s more of that defense and ball winning than at forward position.
Do you have connections with other former Cavaliers who followed you into the pro ranks? Are you the “godfather,” so to speak, of the group?
[Laughs] I don’t know if I would say that, necessarily. … I’m more like the grandmother. I’m definitely a lot older than them. I think I’m only a couple of years older than Lori Lindsey (Col ’03). But Becky Sauerbrunn (Col ’09) wound up playing on the Boston Renegades one summer, so she came up here. And just the fact our community is pretty small and close knit, we all know each other. I saw Sarah Huffman (Educ ’07) at the WPS unveiling of the uniforms. … So we all keep an eye out for each other, which is pretty neat.