Mia Hamm, who scored a record-setting 158 international goals for the U.S. women's national team, admits these days she wasn't thinking about being an influence to others while playing those 18 years.
"To be honest with you, I was more of a player living in the moment," said Hamm, who joined the national soccer team at age 15. "Having kids, it really showed me how important my role is now to give insight to them and others."
Hamm and former Boston Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra married in 2003, and now have three children, all under the age of 6.
"I'm flattered that people see me as filling a role to give children more confidence and, at the same time, grow the game I love," said Hamm, who retired in 2004. "I am a product of all the people who did take the time to stop what they were doing and invest in me. If I could help one child and one family reach another level in themselves, I want to help."
On Sunday in Carson, Calif., Hamm and her husband hosted the fourth annnual Mia Hamm & Nomar Garciaparra Celebrity Soccer Challenge at the Home Depot Center. Proceeds benefited the Mia Hamm Foundation and Grassroot Soccer.
"It was an opportunity to raise money and awareness for a cause so important to my family," said Hamm, who established the foundation in part to support patients and their families who benefit from bone marrow transplants. Hamm's brother died in 1997 of a rare blood disease. "We came together to celebrate the game and show how important it is to give back."
Hamm continues promoting the game and helping parents Tuesday as she hosts a live chat at 7 p.m. ET on the Tom's of Maine Facebook page. Hamm will be reading from her book "Winners Never Quit" and answering questions.
Hamm breaks down the respondents in three groups:
• Young children: "They ask questions like 'what's your favorite pet?' and 'what's your favorite color?'"
• Teens: "They ask 'how do you overcome an injury?' and 'have you ever doubted yourself?'"
• Parents: "They ask 'what suggestions do you have if your coach is telling your child to focus on only one sport' and 'how do I get my child to be more competitive?'"
"I love this opportunity to connect with fans, and with a company that promotes healthy routines and habits," Hamm said. "It gives them a great opportunity to hear from someone who played at the highest level. I really want to help."
And it's another opportunity to promote the game she still loves.
"I grew up in a large family that was middle class or lower middle class. We couldn't go out and buy a ton of equipment. You don't need that with soccer," she said. "It doesn't discriminate. No matter your skill level or income level, anyone can play."