FRISCO, Texas – Cinco De Mayo in Frisco was a celebration of many sorts.
FC Dallas and Frisco city officials announced the official groundbreaking of the National Soccer Hall of Fame’s construction on the day, and club president Dan Hunt also made the surprise announcement of this year’s three-member addition to the Hall: MLS Commissioner Don Garber, and US national team standouts Brandi Chastain and Shannon MacMillan.
“It’s special,” Hunt told MLSsoccer.com. “We came with the idea to US Soccer, and they were really excited about the publicity around it. And what a special class.”
Highlighting the class was Garber, who Hunt praised for his efforts to grow MLS and secure broadcast deals internationally.
That made it all the more special for Hunt, considering his family’s longtime relationship with Garber, dating back to his father Lamar and spanning sports all the way to football in the NFL.
“I’m personally excited for Don because he has worked tirelessly to grow soccer in this country,” Hunt said. “It’s a terrific win.”
Garber was not in attendance in Frisco, and neither was MacMillan – but Chastain was front and center to accept the accolade, and she did not hide her emotions.
As Chastain took the podium next to the pit of sand where ceremonial shovels stood waiting to break ground on the Hall of Fame, she struggled to fight back tears and even left her sunglasses on to help conceal how emotional the moment made her.
“It’s like taking a penalty kick – you never know what the celebration is going to be, because you’re in the moment,” Chastain said. “That was an in-the-moment expression.”
Knowing beforehand that she was being inducted, Chastain likened the moment to a time when she threw out the first pitch at a New York Yankees game. She said she was collected as the moment unfolded, but similar to when former Yankees manager Joe Torre approached the mound with the baseball, the intensity of the moment began to sink in.
“I could feel my stomach as the line of people got closer to me,” Chastain said. “But that’s because I care deeply about this sport, and it’s gifted me so many amazing opportunities. It allows me to give back to the community I live in, it allows me the opportunity to speak to young girls across the country and share soccer – things that I thought I’d never be able to do.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Chastain added. “The magnitude of this moment and the magnitude of being inducted into a Hall of Fame is significant. I was just a girl growing up in San Jose who’s been a season ticket holder for the San Jose Earthquakes since 1977.”
Largely known for her celebration after converting a PK during the 1999 World Cup that sealed the win for the US women's national team, Chastain received praise from Hunt for what he called one of the most memorable celebrations in American sports.
“If you go back to the ’99 game, that was as much emotion as you can see on the field,” Hunt said. “I go back to that and maybe the [Michael] Jordan celebration with the trophy in the locker room after his father had passed away. Those are two of the most iconic celebrations.”
All in all, Thursday represented a new era for the National Soccer Hall of Fame, where Hunt was able to announce a class of US soccer legends the day he furthered his father’s vision of growing soccer in America – in his own backyard.
“I just feel very blessed and lucky to have these three as our introductory class to the hall of fame,” Hunt said. “What a great class to be our first class to announce.”