Mia Hamm instructs soccer camp at Sports Blast Shelby County

Alabama natve and three-time Olympic medalist Mia Hamm at Shelby County Sports Blast on Jan. 24. (Reporter Photo / Baker Ellis)

Alabama native and three-time Olympic medalist Mia Hamm at Shelby County Sports Blast on Jan. 24. (Reporter Photo / Baker Ellis)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Reporter

NORTH SHELBY- On a gray Saturday morning in January, Alabama native and Olympic champion Mia Hamm was just another face in a throng of soccer players going through drills at Shelby County Sports Blast on U.S. 280.

While Hamm’s playing days are in the past, that does not mean she has hung up her cleats for good. While Hamm may not be scoring goals in the FIFA World Cup anymore, she still finds ways to be on the pitch whenever she can. One of the ways Hamm, arguably American soccer’s most recognizable face, stays involved with the game she loves is by serving as a team instructor for TeamFirst Soccer Academy, which is “dedicated to providing girls and young women an opportunity to develop as individual players within a disciplined and unselfish team environment,” according to the TeamFirst website.

Hamm has been involved with TeamFirst for the last four years and is dedicated to the helping youth soccer in any way she can. “People have invested so much in U.S. soccer,” Hamm said. “I just enjoy being able to return that favor now. I’m happy to be here and to do this with my teammates.”

Former teammates and fellow instructors Kristine Lilly and Tisha Venturini-Hoch joined Hamm at the event at Sports Blast. Together they won the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and together they feel compelled to continue the soccer movement in the U.S.

“The fact that they (the girls) have opportunities like this now are great,” Hamm said. “Being able to get these players out here in a different, stress-free environment is really what we try and do.”

TeamFirst holds camps all over the country, and according to a spokesperson are planning on holding eight in 2015. Birmingham was their first stop of the year, and the turnout was encouraging, according to Hamm.

Hamm is a native of Selma, and said she enjoys getting back to Alabama whenever she can.