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2001-2003 Boston Breakers

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2002 Boston BreakersWomen’s United Soccer Association (2001-2003)

Born: April 10, 2000 – WUSA founding franchise
Died: September 15, 2003 – The WUSA ceases operations.

Stadium: Nickerson Field (10,000)

Team Colors: Breaker Blue, Sea Silver & Surf White

Investor-Operator: Amos Hostetter

 

The original Boston Breakers soccer club was a founding member of the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) from 2001 to 2003.  The WUSA was the first professional soccer league for women in North America, backed by a consortium of cable television companies and executives who were intrigued by the groundbreaking success of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, hosted by the United States.  The Breakers franchise was backed by Amos Hostetter, the billionaire co-founder of Continental Cablevision.

The provenance of the team’s name was somewhat odd.  Like many fledgling sports teams, the soon-to-be-Boston Breakers instituted a Name-The-Team contest.  The winning entry was attributed to a 15-year old teenage girl from suburban Easton, Massachusetts.  What was strange about the  choice was that Boston already had a high profile pro sports flop that had used the same identity in the recent past.  The Boston Breakers of the United States Football League had even used a similar blue/white color scheme and played in the very same stadium (Boston University’s Nickerson Field) as the new women’s soccer team.  The football Breakers came and went in a single season in 1983 – very much in the living memory of countless local sports fans and Boston’s sporting press.

But “Breakers” it was to be.  In May of 2000, each of the eight WUSA franchises received three players from the United States Women’s National Team tha captivated the nation during the World Cup ten months earlier.  The U.S. National Teamers – known as “Founders” since they also had a small equity stake in the league – were meant to form both the talent nucleus and the marketing tent poles for each franchise.  The Breakers received All-Universe midfielder Kristine Lilly and stalwart defender Kate Sobrero.  The team’s third allocation, however, was a bust.  Tracy Ducar, the USWNT’s reserve goalkeeper, suffered an eye-injury late in the WUSA’s 2001 debut season and was thereafter unseated by less-heralded Canadian National Team goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc for the Breakers starting job.

Dagny Mellgren Boston BreakersThe burden of scoring goals fell to the Breakers’ international signings.  Boston received German National Team stars Maren Meinert and Bettina Wiegmann along with the Norwegian duo of Ragnhild Gulbrandsen (who would join in 2002) and Dagny Mellgren.  Though Gulbrandsen would disappoint and Wiegmann retired after two seasons, Meinert and Mellgren quickly emerged as premier scoring threats, with Lilly often setting the table with deft assists.

Despite fine individual performances from the likes of Lilly, Meinert, Mellgren and a previously unheralded University of Virginia midfielder named Angela Hucles, the Breakers disappointed as a team during the first two seasons of the WUSA.  Under Head Coach Jay Hoffman, the team finished 6th place and out of the playoffs in both campaigns.  The Breakers were also something of a Jekyll & Hyde club – virtually unbeatable at home, where they had established one of the most loyal followings in the WUSA, but unable to perform consistently on the road.

The club’s fortunes turned in 2003 with the hiring of Swedish manager Pia Sundhage to take over for Hoffman.  The Breakers finally became a tough road team, equaling their success at home.  Meinert was phenomenal at the top of the attack, winning league Most Valuable Player honors.  At 10-4-7, the Breakers finished top of the table in the WUSA’s regular season.  However, Boston was bounced on penalty kicks in the playoff semi-final by the eventual league champion Washington Freedom.

Boston Breakers ProgramOne month later, the WUSA abruptly closed its doors on September 15, 2003.  There were inklings that the league was in trouble.  The league cut roster sizes from 18 to 16 following the 2002 season and dropped the salary cap from $834,500 to $595,750.  The “Founders” (mostly) accepted large pay cuts.  But it wasn’t enough.  While attendance was not far off from expectations, corporate sponsorship for the league never hit critical mass.  Still, the timing of the shutdown shocked many outside observers, coming just five days before the start of the 2003 Women’s World Cup – which would be held in the United States once again, thanks to the SARS outbreak creating havoc in China, the original host of the tournament.

A lackluster effort to revive corporate support for the WUSA through a series of neutral-site “festivals” in the summer of 2004 flopped.  From 2008 through 2008, there was no top-flight women’s pro soccer league in North America.  When a new league – Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) – began play in 2009, a franchise was quickly awarded to Boston, based upon the warm reception to the WUSA-era Breakers club.  The WPS franchise revived the Breakers name and logo.  The “New” Breakers of 2009 included three veterans of the original 2001-2003 Breakers club – Angela Hucles, Kristine Lilly and seldom-used Mary-Frances Monroe.  The team also featured several front office holdovers who returned to work for the new club, including Team President Joe Cummings, who launched both editions of the team.

The new/2009 edition of the Breakers remains active today in 2014 as a member of the National Women’s Soccer League.

 

==Slideshow==

  • WUSA Founders Goofing Around Circa 2000
  • Kristine Lilly Boston Breakers
  • 2001 Boston Breakers Media Guide
  • Kate Sobrero Boston Breakers
  • Angela Hucles Boston Breakers
  • Michelle Akers Boston Breakers
  • Kristine Lilly Boston Breakers
  • Dagny Mellgren Boston Breakers
  • Kristine Lilly Boston Breakers
  • 2003 Boston Breakers Media Guide
  • Dagny Mellgren Boston Breakers
  • Kate Sobrero Boston Breakers
  • Boston Breakers Program
  • Kristine Lilly Boston Breakers
  • Dagny Mellgren Boston Breakers

 

==Boston Breakers Matches on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
2001 5/5/2001 vs. Atlanta Beat L 1-0 Game Ticket
2001 6/3/2001 vs. New York Power L 3-2 Program
2001 6/6/2001 vs. Atlanta Beat T 1-1 Program
2001 6/9/2001 @ San Diego Spirit L 3-1 Program
2001 6/16/2001 vs. Washington Freedom W 1-0 Program
2001 7/12/2001 vs. Carolina Courage W 2-1 Program
2001 7/21/2001 vs. Carolina Courage L 2-1 Program
2001 7/26/2001 @ New York Power L 4-2 Program
2001 7/29/2001 vs. Washington Freedom W 2-1 Program
2002 4/20/2002 vs. Atlanta Beat W 3-1 Program
2002 6/1/2002 vs. Washington Freedom T 0-0 Program
2002 6/8/2002 vs. Carolina Courage T 2-2 Program
2002 6/12/2002 @ Washington Freedom L 2-1 Program
2002 6/22/2002 vs. New York Power W 5-2 Program
2002 6/29/2002 vs. San Jose CyberRays T 1-1 Program
2002 7/10/2002 vs. San Diego Spirit W 3-2 Program
2002 7/24/2002 @ Washington Freedom T 1-1 Program
2002 8/4/2002 vs. New York Power W 4-1 Program
2002 8/10/2002 vs. San Jose CyberRays  W 1-0 Program
2003 4/12/2003 @ Atlanta Beat L 6-0 Program
2003 6/8/2003 @ Washington Freedom W 3-1 Program
2003 6/21/2003 vs. Carolina Courage L 1-0 Program
2003 6/25/2003 vs. New York Power W 2-1 Program

 

 

==Key Players==

 

==YouTube==

2002 Boston Breakers In-Stadium Video Montage  (starts around 0:18)…

 

==Links==

Women’s United Soccer Association Media Guides

Women’s United Soccer Association Programs

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Written by andycrossley

December 13th, 2014 at 4:00 am

November 26, 1980 – Dallas Diamonds vs. Chicago Hustle

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Anne Donovan Old DominionDallas Diamonds vs. Chicago Hustle
Pre-season Exhibition Game
November 26th, 1980
Old Dominion Field House (Norfolk, VA)
Attendance:

Women’s Professional Basketball League Programs
64 Pages

 

Here we have a terrific program that Fun While It Lasted recently acquired from the collection of women’s basketball historian John Molina.  This comes from a rare college/pro doubleheader hosted by the Old Dominion University Lady Monarchs in November 1980.  The front end of the double dip was a pre-season exhibition game between the Chicago Hustle and the Dallas Diamonds of the short-lived Women’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1981).

At the time, Old Dominion was the powerhouse team in women’s college basketball.  In 1980, the Lady Monarchs were two-time defending AIAW national champions.  And the Norfolk, Virginia school produced the top two draft picks in the 1980 Women’s Professional Basketball League draft.  Nancy Lieberman, widely considered the greatest female basketball player in the United States, went #1 overall to the Dallas Diamonds.  After a three-month holdout, Lieberman signed a record-breaking $100,000 contract with the financially shaky Diamonds, double the benchmark $50K deal inked by UCLA’s Ann Meyers a year earlier.  6′ 5″ Danish center Inge Nissen went #2 overall to the Hustle.  No less dominant than Lieberman, Nissen cut a much lower public (and financial) profile.

The University imported the Diamonds and the Hustle for this pre-season tune-up and then retired Lieberman and Nissen’s numbers at halftime of the ODU-James Madison contest that followed.  According to The Associated Press, it was the first time a university retired the jerseys of its alumni in the (relatively short) history of women’s college basketball.

Inge Nissen Old DominionTo the delight of the ODU faithful, Lieberman (20 pts. for Dallas) and Nissen (18 pts. for Chicago) led all scorers in Dallas’ 80-66 victory.

Despite losing two future Hall of Famers in Lieberman and Nissen in 1980, the cupboard was hardly bare at Old Dominion heading into the 1980-81 college basketball season.  For one thing, the Lady Monarchs still had the unstoppable 6′ 8″ sophomore center Anne Donovan.  Lieberman (appearing “short” at 5′ 10″), Donovan and Nissen are pictured on the cover of the evening’s game program (above right).   ESPNW writer Mechelle Voepel notes that the iconic photo of the three future Hall-of-Famers hung in the ODU Field House for years.

Donovan would lead the Lady Monarchs to a third consecutive Final Four appearance in 1981.  But unlike Lieberman and Nissen, she would never get the chance to play pro basketball in the United States.  The Women’s Professional Basketball League folded in 1981 at the conclusion of Lieberman and Nissen’s rookie seasons.  Donovan played overseas and gold medals with the U.S. Olympic team in 1984 and 1988.

Donovan and Lieberman were enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in the mid-1990’s.  Both went on to coach in the WNBA and Donovan coached the U.S. women to Olympic Gold in 2008.   Inge Nissen, as always, has remained in the background in comparison to her legendary ODU teammates.  Nissen was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012, but still lacks that most basic credential of modern day notoriety – her own Wikipedia entry.

 

==Downloads==

November 26, 1980 Chicago Hustle Pre-season Roster

November 26, 1980 Dallas Diamonds Pre-season Roster

 

==Links==

Dallas Diamonds Home Page

Nissen gets her time in the spotlight“, Mechelle Voepel, ESPNW, June 8, 2012

 

 

Written by andycrossley

November 23rd, 2014 at 5:59 pm

1996-1998 Atlanta Glory

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Theresa Edwards Atlanta GloryAmerican Basketball League (1996-1998)

Born: 1995 – ABL founding franchise.
Died: 1998 – The Glory ceases operations.

Arenas:

Team Colors: Blue, Red & Nugget Gold

Owner: American Basketball League

 

The Atlanta Glory was a short-lived women’s basketball team that competed in the American Basketball League for two seasons in the mid-1990’s.  The team split its home games between two downtown Atlanta college campuses, playing most dates at the brand new 5,700-seat arena at Morehouse College, built for the 1996 Olympic Games.

Teresa Edwards, a Cairo, Georgia native, former UGA Bulldog, and four-time U.S. Olympic basketball medalist, was the Glory’s featured attraction.  But despite Edwards’ presence, the Glory struggled to find a following in Atlanta.  During the ABL’s 1996-97 inaugural season, the Glory’s average attendance of 2,780 fans was 2nd lowest in the league.  The team also missed the playoffs with an 18-22 record.

Edwards took on double duty as the Glory’s player-coach for the second ABL season in the winter of 1997-98.  The team went backwards to 15-29, missing the playoffs again.  Announced attendance picked up 40% to 3,898 per game, but that wasn’t enough to save the Glory from the axe.  All teams in the single-entity ABL were centrally owned by the league itself.  With the league bleeding cash at an alarming pace, the ABL contracted the Atlanta franchise shortly after the 1997-98 season concluded.

The ABL launched a 3rd season in November 1998, but ran out of money one month later and folded on December 22, 1998.

Women’s pro hoops returned to Atlanta in 2008 with the formation of the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA.

 

==Links==

American Basketball League Media Guides

American Basketball League Programs

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1978-79 Dayton Rockettes

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Women’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1979)

Born: 1978 – WPBL founding franchise.
Died: 1979 – The Rockettes cease operations.

Arena: Hara Arena

Team Colors: Kelly Green & Silver

Owner: Louis Deitelbaum

 

The Dayton Rockettes were one of eight original franchises in the Women’s Professional Basketball League (1978-1981).  The WPBL, which debuted in December 1978, was the first professional basketball league for women, pre-dating the WNBA by nearly 20 years.

Even by the standards of this league, which scraped and scratched for media and fan attention without consistent success, the Rockettes were a particularly obscure franchise.  They played in the league’s smallest market in a minor league hockey arena.  The Rockettes encountered financial problems early in their maiden season and folded quietly in the spring or summer of 1979, earning a place in our One-Year Wonders file.

The Dayton Rockettes were 12-22 in their only season of existence.

FWIL is actively looking for a program or other memorabilia from this team to improve this entry.  Email andy@funwhileitlasted.net if you can help.

 

==Dayton Rockettes Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
1/4/1978 @ Chicago Hustle W 102-95 Program
4/1/1979 @ Iowa Cornets  L 115-84 Program Roster

 

==Downloads==

1978-79 Women’s Professional Basketball League Brochure

 

==Links==

Women’s Professional Basketball League Media Guides

Women’s Professional Basketball League Programs

Written by andycrossley

November 10th, 2014 at 3:04 pm

2001-2003 San Jose CyberRays

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2003 San Jose Cyberrays Media GuideWomen’s United Soccer Association (2001-2003)

Born: 2000 – WUSA founding franchise.
Died: September 15, 2003 – The WUSA ceases operations.

Stadium: Spartan Stadium (16,000)

Team Colors: Dark Purple, Light Purple, Orange & Black

Investor/Operators: John Hendricks & Amos Hostetter

 

In the relatively short history and small sample size of women’s professional team sports in North America, I’d hand the Weirdest Name prize to the Bay Area CyberRays of the Women’s United Soccer Association.  After their debut season, in the summer of 2001, the league seemed to realize it was an appallingly stupid name and they changed it … to the San Jose CyberRays.

But anyway, back to that first season.  The team was actually pretty damn good under the direction of former Stanford coach Ian Sawyers.  The big star was the 1999 U.S. World Cup hero Brandi Chastain, but the offense was powered by a pair of standout Brazilians: midfielder Sissi (10 assists) and forward Katia (7 goals).  Australian Julie Murray was the team’s leading scorer with 9 tallies.

CyberRays advanced to the 2001 Founders Cup final and won the first WUSA championship by defeating the Atlanta Beat on penalty kicks before 21,078 fans at Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts on August 25, 2001.  Murray scored in regulation and converted the final PK to earn Player of the Match honors in her final pro match before retirement.

The CyberRays were unable to recapture their first season form and missed the WUSA playoffs in 2002 and 2003.  (Maybe it’s bad mojo to change your name, however slightly, immediately after winning the championship.)

The CyberRays were somewhat of an orphan club from inception.  The team was jointly “operated” in the centrally-owned WUSA cable TV barons Amos Hostetter and league founder John Hendricks.  Both men lived on the Eastern seaboard and were more actively engaged with the WUSA franchises they operated in their local communities – Hostetter with his Boston Breakers and Hendricks with the league’s flagship Washington Freedom franchise.  According to Sports Business Journal the pair were actively seeking to unload the CyberRays to local investors in 2003, but couldn’t find any takers.  One rumored scenario had the club moving to Los Angeles for the 2004 season under the management of Anschutz Entertainment Group, owners of the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer.  But instead the entire WUSA went out of business on September 15th, 2003, rendering the matter moot.

Women’s pro soccer returned to the Bay Area with the formation of FC Gold Pride of Women’s Professional Soccer in 2009.  Like the CyberRays, F.C. Gold Pride also won a league championship.  But they too were short-lived and folded after just two seasons.

 

==San Jose CyberRays Matches on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
2001 4/14/2001 @ Washington Freedom L 1-0 Program
2001 6/10/2001 @ New York Power T 0-0 Program
2001 8/25/2001 Atlanta Beat W 4-2 (PK) Program
2002 6/29/2002 @ Boston Breakers T 1-1 Program
2002 8/10/2002 @ Boston Breakers L 1-0 Program
2003 5/3/2003 @ Atlanta Beat  W 1-0 Program
2003 5/17/2003 @ Atlanta Beat  L 1-0 Program
2003 6/22/2003 @ Washington Freedom T 2-2 Program
2003 8/2/2003 @ Washington Freedom L 5-0 Program

==Key Players==

 

==YouTube==

60-second radio spot promoting what turned out to be the final CyberRays game ever played, August 10, 2003.

 

==Links==

Women’s United Soccer Association Media Guides

Women’s United Soccer Association Programs

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