With hundreds of eyes trained on her, Mia Hamm stood on one foot at the front of the Woodrow Wilson Middle School auditorium Tuesday. Balanced on the other foot was a soccer ball.
But instead of juggling, as had been requested, she flicked it toward the audience.
“I have never really been a tricks person,” Hamm said before inviting eighth-grader Christina Hacobian forward to demonstrate her own moves.
It was a characteristic moment for Hamm who, seven years after her retirement from professional soccer, has redefined herself as a mother and an advocate for youth athletics. Her visit to Wilson was in conjunction with the “Play it Safe” campaign, an effort by the American Assn. of Orthodontists to promote the use of mouth guards to protect against injuries to the face, mouth and jaw.
There are some physical risks that are unavoidable on a sports court or playing field, Hamm said. But taking appropriate safety measures can mean the difference between an athlete playing through the season and an athlete landing on the sidelines with an injury, she said.