Hope Amelia Solo is an American professional soccer goalkeeper who played for her country’s national team from 2000 to August 2016. One of the greatest female goalkeepers of all time, she is the present holder of the US record for most career shutouts. At 12, she wrote a paper in which she expressed her aspiration to become a professional soccer player, even though the option wasn’t really available for women back then. She started as a forward in the games for her school, but when she went to college, she switched to goalkeeping. She played for the US junior national team before her induction in the senior’s squad. Over the ensuing years, she has been part of several clubs in multiple women soccer leagues in the US and beyond, most notably ‘Philadelphia Charge’, ‘Kopparbergs/Göteborg’, ‘Saint Louis Athletica’, and ‘Seattle Reign FC’, and was instrumental in America’s win of two Olympic gold medals, and a World Cup Championship. She competed on the 13th season of ABC’s reality TV show ‘Dancing with the Stars’ with her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
Childhood & Early Life
Born in Richland, Washington on July 30, 1981, Hope Amelia Solo is the daughter of Italian-American Vietnam War veteran Jeffrey Solo and Judy Lynn (née Shaw). She has three siblings, a half-sister, Teresa and two brothers, Dave and Marcus.
Her parents divorced when she was six years old. A year later, her father took her and Marcus to Seattle where they lived out of a hotel for several days. What seemed like a vacation to a seven-year-old Hope turned out to be an alleged kidnapping when Jeffrey was arrested by the police, and the children were returned to their mother.
She studied at ‘Richland High School’, where, as a forward, she scored 109 goals and marshalled her team to three back-to-back league title wins from 1996 to 1998 and a state championship win in 1998. During her school days, Solo also used to play for the ‘Three Rivers Soccer Club’ in the Tri-Cities.
After graduating school, Solo went to study speech communications at the ‘University of Washington’ in 1999. She joined the Washington Huskies, and under the tutelage of head coach Lesle Gallimore and goalkeeping coach Amy Griffin, she made the transition to be a goalkeeper.
She also started her international career during her college days. In her debut match as a senior in April 2000, at Davidson, North Carolina, the US national women team defeated Iceland 8-0.
When she left Washington in 2002, she had become the top keeper in Pac-10 history, with 18 shutouts, 325 saves, and 1.02 GAA (goals against average).
She reconciled with her father after seeing him at a park in Seattle. They maintained a close relationship until his death in 2007.
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Hope Solo was drafted by the ‘Women's United Soccer Association’ team ‘Philadelphia Charge’ in 2003. She took the field in eight matches, securing her first professional shutout against the ‘Atlantic Beat’.
After WUSA suspended operations in 2003, she travelled to Europe and played for the Swedish club ‘Kopparbergs/Göteborg’ in 2004, and the French club ‘Olympique Lyonnais Féminin’ in 2005.
She was chosen as a substitute goalkeeper for the US 2003 Summer Olympics campaign. In 2005, she was promoted as the primary choice, which ultimately led to the creation of her record of the longest undefeated streak by a US goalkeeper with 55 games from March 7, 2002 to July 16, 2008.
Though Solo was part of the starting line-up for the majority of the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup matches, she was benched in favour of veteran Briana Scurry in the semi-final match, which the US lost to Brazil 4-0. In a post-match interview, Solo criticised the decision.
She gave a stellar performance in US’ successful bid for the gold medal at 2008 Beijing Olympics. In the final Solo and her team defeated Brazil 1-0.
She joined ‘Saint Louise Athletica’, a team in the ‘Women’s Professional Soccer’ league, on September 16, 2008. She ended the season conceding fourteen goals in seventeen matches.
In 2010 and 2011, she signed with ‘Atlanta Beat’ and ‘MagicJack’, respectively. She received a $2,500 fine for her remarks against the match officials and the league following her team’s loss to ‘Washington Freedom.’
The US national women’s soccer team emerged the runner-up of the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup after losing the final to Japan in a penalty shootout. Solo reached her 100 caps for her country against France in the tournament.
A month before the 2012 London Olympics, Hope Solo was given a public warning by the ‘U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’ when a test found Canrenone in her system. Despite this, she was cleared to compete, and the US went on to register their second consecutive gold medal win.
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For the 2012 club season, she played for ‘Seattle Sounders Women’. Solo joined ‘Seattle Reigns FC’ in 2013 for the inaugural season of the ‘National Women's Soccer League’. She took ‘personal leave’ from the club in 2016, after appearing in 54 matches spanning 3 seasons.
Solo published her autobiography, ‘Solo: A Memoir of Hope’, which was co-authored with sports journalist Ann Killion, on August 14, 2012, through ‘HarperCollins Publishers’. It opened at #3 spot on ‘The New York Times Best Seller’ list in the hardcover non-fiction category.
She took a three-month break for surgery on her left wrist in 2013. Solo later became a part of the US 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup squad that eventually lifted the cup following their 5-2 victory over Japan on July 5, 2015.
During the 2016 Rio Olympics, she drew criticism when she called the Swedish team “bunch of cowards” after being defeated by the latter. She was suspended and her international contract was annulled by the US Soccer. At the time of the suspension, she had appeared in 202 international matches with a record 102 shutouts.
Awards & Achievements
Hope Solo was named All-American by ‘Parade’ magazine in 1997 and 1998. She was an NSCAA All-American in 2000, 2001, and 2002, and a Pac-10 Selection from 1999 to 2002.
She was conferred with the ‘WPS Goalkeeper of the Year’ award and the ‘US Soccer Female Athlete of the Year’ award in 2009.
She won the ‘FIFA Women World Cup Golden Glove twice’, in 2011 and 2015, and made it to the tournament’s all-star team in those years as well. She was also the winner of the Bronze Ball in 2011.
’International Federation of Football History & Statistics’ named her world’s women best goalkeeper for four consecutive years (2012-15)
She was given the ‘Phoenix Mercury Woman of Inspiration’ award in 2012.
She was hailed Sports Spectacular Female Athlete of the Year in 2013.
In October 2015, after the win of the 2015 World Cup, Solo, alongside the rest of her team, was honoured by the former President Barack Obama at the White House.
Hope Solo began dating former American football player Jerramy Stevens in August 2012. They got married on November 14, 2012, two days after an incident that had left Solo injured and Stevens in jail.
A victim of the 2014 iCloud leaks of celebrity nude photos, she publicly spoke out against the perpetrators, calling the act “beyond the bounds of human decency”.
Solo was involved in an altercation with Teresa and her son that led to her arrest on the charges of two misdemeanour counts of assault of the fourth degree on June 21, 2014. She pleaded not guilty.
Although the charges were dismissed on January 13, 2015, on the grounds of lack of cooperation from both alleged victims, they were reinstated after the prosecutors filed an appeal with the Superior Court in Washington.
Solo is associated with the ‘Women's Sports Foundation’, an educational non-profit charity founded by tennis player Billie Jean King in 1974.
Solo has endorsement deals with several multinational brands, including Seiko, Nike, Ubisoft, and Blackberry.