Brandi Chastain: Kids 'Give Me the Ability to Be Happy'

07/21/2009 at 08:00 AM ET
Emily Shur for PEOPLE for use on CBB

Professional soccer player Brandi Chastain will have quite the stories for her son one day. A player on the 1999 Women’s World Cup team, she kicked the winning goal in a game against China, and immediately stripped down to her sports bra and cheered.

Now, 10 years after that infamous kick, Brandi — 41 today! — is raising 3-year-old son Jaden Chastain and almost-21-year-old stepson Cameron with husband Jerry Smith — and has returned to professional soccer!

She recently spoke to CBB about her family, her stint on the ABC reality show The Superstars and her partnership with Centrum Ultra vitamins.

Click below to read more about Brandi’s home and professional life!

Emily Shur for PEOPLE for use on CBB

How is it balancing professional sports with raising a young child?

Jaden gives me the ability to be happy, to see what’s important and to focus.

I see his face when he smiles, and it drives me.

The time we get to spend together is precious.

I want him to know his mom is a working mom and plays soccer for a living and is strong and is powerful.

I want him to know that so he can grow up seeing strong, confident women in his life.

Does he know you’re famous?

No, but he does see pictures on the wall, and with The Superstars, he’ll watch and say, “I love The Superstars.”

When he sees me, he says “Mommy that’s you! You’re strong mommy!”

It’s nice, and those are things that will be with him forever.

If Jaden wanted to play soccer, would you be OK with that?

Absolutely. I’ll be happy with what makes him happy.

I know that’s the way to go, because I had parents who understood and saw that in me. They didn’t know anything about soccer, but went to the library with me and we learned about soccer together and we made it something that was important to our family. My parents were the greatest supporters I had.

My parents also taught me about how important it is to be a good teammate. I think that’s something that when I flash back to 1999 was critical to our success. When I flash forward through those 10 years, it’s what guided me in my decision to partner up with organizations, create my own non-profit and work with groups like Centrum and Nourish America.

Is it fun being in a similar field to your husband Jerry Smith, a women’s soccer coach at Santa Clara University?

I believe my husband wishes he could get away from soccer! But I love it so much I have it on one, two or three TVs in the house at one time so I can see games without missing a beat.

It’s great that I understand the time that he needs to spend with his team, and the travel. He, likewise, understands that’s the same for me. There’s a mutual respect there, and I can go to him with problems. He is very honest, and sees it from a coach’s perspective, and he gives it to me straight. Sometimes I want him to just say, “It’s OK,” but he’s very honest with his responses, and I appreciate that.

How did blending your families work?

I was very lucky that I came into a situation where Cameron was young enough that we could grow up together. We had speed bumps, but we talked them out. They were things everyone goes through – teen things like piercing, chores, driving. The best lessons we learned together were when we allowed him to voice his opinion, and know he would respect how we were feeling. We always answered questions honestly, not out of what we wanted but what we thought was best for him.

We’ve had a very respectful relationship. It hasn’t been perfect – being a parent is juggling needs and wants. But I’ve loved our journey so far. I think he’s grown up – I still remember when he was 10 years old sitting in the Rose Bowl with the number “6” (Brandi’s number at the time) etched into his hair and a flag in his hand!

He’s seen strong, independent confident women his whole life, and I know that he will be a big supporter of his friends, wife, girlfriends or any woman he comes in contact with, and that, to me, is important.

Are your sons really close?

Jaden loves “Camo,” as he calls him. When he sees him, he just runs over for a big hug. It’s very cute. Cameron’s at a time when his friends and school are important to him. But we do spend as much time together as we can. We’re trying to do what every family is trying to do: Spend more quality time together. When we’re together we really enjoy one another.

Emily Shur for PEOPLE for use on CBB

How did returning to soccer go for you?

I was thrilled to be able to have a chance to be drafted by the FC Gold Pride. I love soccer, competing and challenging myself. I never thought about retiring; soccer just seemed like what I’d do no matter how old I was. After having Jaden it was an uphill battle. That first week back I went through three realizations:

1.    Boy this is not going to be easy, which is OK. But it was a wake-up call.
2.    After seeing some of the younger players hurting a little and sitting out, I thought, I can do this. I came to that stage pretty quickly.
3.    Once I got past the first week I decided it was where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. I had a wonderful opportunity to play, and make an example of myself to young girls, boys, women and men: If you love something and are dedicated, you can succeed.

While looking back on the 10-year-anniversary and my penalty kick, I looked at a team picture, and since then 13 of us have become mothers. What a great inspiration they all are. The majority are still playing, still active. They’ve taken what they’ve learned on the field and used it in positive ways in their communities and on a winder scale. We’ve all learned lessons and gained perspective. It helped me start the non-profit Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, which I call BAWSI Girls. It’s showing how activities and nutrition can change and enhance girls’ lives.

I’m staring a website for ‘tween girls, too. They’re important to me as well not only on the soccer field but off. I want them to aspire to be the great people they can be, go out there and see their wonderful potential and grab their dreams. Visit brandisworld.com for more on that.

So what’s this partnership with Centrum Ultra vitamins about?

If you go to myultragoals.com and submit your personal fitness goals, Centrum Ultra will donate $1 to Nourish America. I would love to have everyone know not only are they going to impact the way they feel – in eating habits and in life – but at the same time they’ll be changing someone else’s life.

It would be great to reach our goal, which will be to donate $25,000 to Nourish America at the end of the program. I look forward to people caring for themselves and other people at the same time. All people have to do is make a pledge: running every day for 20 minutes, sit-ups before bed or another such goal. If people out there need inspiration to get moving, they can change lives through this!

Tell us more about The Superstars!

Superstars has been airing on ABC on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. Tonight is the fifth episode. It’s excitement, fun, drama. My partner and I are still in there. There will be a winner, but I can’t tell you who it is!

I love sports in general, but I love teamwork more. Having to participate with someone made it more interesting and exciting. They couldn’t have given me a better partner in Julio Iglesias, Jr. We hit it off right away, and after we met each other the first night, we realized we had a few things in common: His father began his career as a goalkeeper for Real Madrid, before he became an entertainer; and when Julio was trying to decide where he was going to college, he was between Miami and Spain, but decided on California, on Santa Clara University, and that’s where I went. We hit it off right away, had great communication and had a lot of fun.

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FILED UNDER: Exclusive , Kids , News

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Nicole on

I admire her very much. She and Julio were my favorite on Superstars. Too bad they are out. But a great women you can tell.

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