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Sara Whalen Hess (born April 28, 1976), née Whalen, is an American retired professional Olympic medalist soccer player. Whalen played for the United States Women's National Soccer Team from 1997 to 2000, and was a founding player of Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA).[1]

Sara Whalen
Personal information
Full name Sara Eve Whalen
Date of birth (1976-04-28) April 28, 1976 (age 43)
Place of birth Natick, Massachusetts, U.S.
Height 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Playing position Defender
College career
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1994–97 Connecticut Huskies
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
1997–99 Long Island Lady Riders
2001–02 New York Power 31
National team
1997–2000 United States 65 (7)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of December 25, 2013
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of December 25, 2013


Early and personal lifeEdit

Born in Natick, Massachusetts to John and Linda Whalen, Sara was raised in Greenlawn, New York, with her sister Deborah, and is Jewish.[2][3][4][5][6] She attended Harborfields High School in her hometown, where she played varsity soccer, basketball, and track as a sprinter.

Whalen graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in psychology. She received her master's degree in psychology from Fordham University, and her doctorate from Fairleigh Dickinson University.[7][3][8] Whalen lives in New York with her husband, Jon Hess, a Nasdaq trader and former Princeton University lacrosse player, and their three children.[7][9] In 2004, after numerous leg surgeries, she ran the New York Marathon in 4 hours 19 minutes 38 seconds.[10][7]

Connecticut HuskiesEdit

At the University of Connecticut she was a defender and forward for their women's soccer team. While playing soccer for Connecticut, Whalen was a three-time All-American and was the 1997 NSCAA Division 1 National Player of the Year, as well as being named to Soccer America's Collegiate Team of the Decade for the 1990s.[11] Whalen scored both goals in the 1997 NCAA Final Four semifinal match against Notre Dame, as Connecticut won 2–1 to record one of the biggest upsets in NCAA women's soccer history by defeating the previously unbeaten Irish.[12] Whalen was the 1995 and 1996 Big East Defensive Player of the Year, before playing striker her senior season where she recorded 21 goals and 22 assists to lead her team in scoring.[3]

Playing careerEdit


In 1997, Whalen began her career for the US Women's National Soccer Team as an outside defender. She earned her first cap against France, while still in college. The following year, 1998, Whalen had a very successful season scoring two goals and garnering three assists.[3]

In 1999, Whalen helped the US Women's National Team win the Women's World Cup, playing every minute of extra-time in the final against China.[9] Whalen was pictured on the cover of Time Magazine hugging Brandi Chastain.

The following year, Whalen won a silver medal as a part of the US Women's Team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.[13][14][15]


In 2001, Whalen was a founding player of the Women's United Soccer Association, playing alongside US teammates Christie Pearce and Tiffeny Milbrett for the New York Power.[16]

On June 26, 2002, in a game against the Carolina Courage, Whalen tore her ACL and MCL in a collision with German international Birgit Prinz. This occurred just after recovering from a broken rib. Whalen had surgery, but noticed her knee was infected shortly thereafter. During her second surgery Whalen had a severe allergic reaction, nearly dying.[9] The doctors realized that the infection was in one of the screws, within the ligament of her knee, which had to be removed. Whalen had to go through seven surgeries, including moving ligaments from her right to left knee, to repair her injury.[9] This marked the end of Whalen's professional soccer career.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Sara Whalen". Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  2. ^ "A TALK WITH / Soccer Player Sara Whalen / She Gets a Kick Out of Being the Best / Sara Whalen's had a year of highs since the World Cup victory" | Newsday
  3. ^ a b c d "soccer profile: Sara Whalen". Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  4. ^ "Jewish Olympic Medalists". Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  5. ^ "Jewish Sports Hall of Fame". March 25, 2001. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  6. ^ Day by day in Jewish sports history. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  7. ^ a b c "How Soccer Star Sara Whalen Hess Turned Crisis Into Opportunity" | SELF
  8. ^ "Where Are They Now: U.S. WNT Defender Sara Whalen". United States Soccer Federation. March 15, 2013. Archived from the original on December 26, 2013. Retrieved December 25, 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d "Sara Whalen Hess, a former Olympian, gives advice for raising athletic kids without ruining their lives—or yours (she's a psychologist too)" — Quartz
  10. ^ Litsky, Frank (November 8, 2004). "An Erstwhile Soccer Star Finds a New Life in Running". The New York Times.
  11. ^ "Len Tsantiris Retires After 37 Years as Head Women’s Soccer Coach" - UConn Today
  12. ^ Day by Day in Jewish Sports History - Bob Wechsler
  13. ^ It’s Not the Glory: The Remarkable First Thirty Years of U S Women’s Soccer - Tim Nash
  14. ^ It's Not Over 'til it's Over - Al Silverman -
  15. ^ "Sara Whalen", ESPN.
  16. ^ New York, Volume 34, Issues 22-25.