Inducted January 2001
Linda Hamilton is one of those rare athletes who are able to achieve the results needed to play at the very highest level of professional sports. Unfortunately her knees failed to comprehend that and in 1995 at age 26 Linda, who had plenty of time left, retired from playing the game she fell in love with as an eight-year old.
She began playing soccer 23 years ago as an 8 year-old in New Orleans. Linda’s parents, Floyd and Evie, had not even heard of the sport when her elder brother, three years her senior, stated his playing career at a similar age just a few years earlier. In fact, Linda played “with the boys” until she was ready to start the U-14 age group, when her mom decided that the boys had gotten too big and too rough for her daughter.
Linda became one of Georgia’s own as a freshman in high school. She played at Wheeler High School and also lettered in basketball, tennis and track. Her club soccer experience was with both the Buckhead YMCA and the DeKalb Soccer Association at Blackburn Park.
Linda’s very first international match was with the U-19 USSF National Team. The team made it to the finals where they were beaten by Norway’s National Team. It was shortly after this that Linda and teammates – Judy Foudy, Joy Fawcett and Mia Hamm – were all elevated to the full USSF National Team. By the age of 26, she had made 71 appearances for the US National Team, and would have easily have exceeded 100 appearances if a knee surgery had not have forced her premature retirement.
She played three years at North Carolina State University and her final collegiate year at the University of North Carolina, graduating in 1992 after achieving “All American and all ACC” recognition in each of her four eligible years. During this time that Linda was a member of the USSF National Team that participated in all of the women’s matches worldwide, the culmination of which garnered the team the Gold Medal in the first Women’s World Cup in 1991 held in China. The US National Soccer Hall of Fame commemorated that accomplishment in October 2001, by presenting each member of the team with the “Medal of Honor”.
Linda is now using her fluency in French in a professional capacity, which finds her in charge of International Customer Service for “Overnight Trucking Service” in Raleigh, NC. Despite her knees, Linda earned a USSF “A” Coaching License and can be found in her fourth year of coaching an U-17 Athena Team as well as in the Olympic Development Program for the Virginia Youth Soccer Association.
When her colleagues were asked to provide adjectives that would describe Linda, two common refrains were given. These two describe her style of play as “tenacious”, and that in Linda’s view, life’s journey should always be viewed with joy, laughter and above all – “humor”.