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With a new book and ESPN deal, versatile Julie Foudy tackling different challenges

Julie Foudy made her ESPN debut in the summer of 1998 while still playing for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. In-between camps, she worked as a guest studio analyst during the the 1998 World Cup. Keep in mind, this was a year before she and her fellow “99ers” won the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Foudy’s insight on the game made her an instant hit with viewers, paving the way for what has become one of the most successful transitions from the playing field to media by an elite athlete.

Since joining ESPN fulltime in 2005, the two-time Olympic gold medalist and soccer Hall of Famer has become one of the industry’s most versatile and respected commentators.

Foudy signed a new multiyear contract extension this week, continuing her multi-faceted role for espnW and ESPN. Her first book, Choose to Matter: Your Guide to Being Courageously and Fabulously You, also was published by Disney Worldwide Publishing under the new espnW imprint.

In the midst of a busy week, Foudy reflects upon her ESPN career with Front Row.

What are you most proud of in your growth as a sports broadcaster?
The thing I am most proud of and the thing I am most appreciative of is that ESPN allows you to go outside your box. I came in as a soccer analyst, and every time I say to them ‘Hey, what about this? What if I try this? I want to tell stories. I want to do interviews. I want to moderate, and I want to host.’ They always give me that opportunity. I love getting out of that space of just soccer, and meeting interesting people. That’s what I’m most proud of – the versatility which I have been trying to hone.

How much do you enjoy the variety of roles you have with ESPN?
I love that I actually get to cover a lot of female athletes because they have such great stories and they are dying to tell them. And that we can tell them in very different ways: from thoughtful to funny, to silly. They give me the freedom to be me. I like that I am able to try different things, to find interesting stories and share those stories with people.

What assignment could you not have imagined doing when you joined ESPN?
I wouldn’t have imagined I would have been an author. I don’t know if you know this, I am an author. I’m a very important one [laughter]. The fact it is a Disney publication with an espnW imprint is why I am so proud of this book.

I went to [Senior Vice President, espnW and Women’s Initiatives] Laura Gentile and Alison Overholt (Editor-In-Chief, ESPN The Magazine and espnW) and said ‘I have this idea, what do you think? I want to write. I want to wrap it around all these really cool women. And I want to write to teen girls and young women about getting out of their comfort zone – raising their hands; being courageous; not being worried if they look differently or acted differently; and celebrating each other.’ All these crazy ideas I have on leadership. ‘They immediately were like, yes, yes, and yes.’”

Which one role at ESPN would you like to do, even if it was just once?
I would want to be Bob “The General” Ley on OTL [Outside the Lines]. I love that show. How good is he? Sitting in the hot seat, talk like Bob – that guy is like an encyclopedia.

I’d love to do more hosting, in a talk show setting. I don’t necessarily want to talk at people. I love talking with people. Anything in that form would be really fun to do.

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