Christen Press shares how her father fostered love for soccer

(Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Christen Press was inducted into the Stanford Athletics Hall of Fame last Friday, and in her acceptance speech, she shared how her dad’s belief in her fostered her love for her sport.

The Stanford women’s soccer great joined nine other women as part of the first all-women Hall of Fame class in Cardinal history. Stanford women’s basketball coach Tara VanDerveer and star Nneka Ogwumike also were among the inductees.

Press played for Stanford from 2007-10, and she still holds the Cardinal record for most career goals with 71. Since departing Stanford, she has starred for the U.S. women’s national team and now plays for the NWSL’s Angel City FC.

“One of my favorite stories of my dad – who has believed in me since I was a little kid – is that he used to take my tiny soccer cleats after I was done as a youth player, he would take them and he would clean them off and he would polish them with his work leather shoe cleaner,” Press said. “And he would lay them out for me the next day.

“Sometimes I would come home from soccer at 6 or 7 years old and my dad would hug me in tears, and he would say, ‘You’re the greatest player to ever lace up the boots.’ I don’t know how he knew that, I was only seven, or what made him say that. But he still says that to me today.”

Her dad’s belief helped her become the player she is now, said Press — a player whose career has included two World Cup titles and 64 international goals.

Press also highlighted the importance of Title IX in making sports more equitable for women. The all-women Hall of Fame class celebrated the 50th anniversary of the landmark legislation.

“This class and so many others will continue to fight that fight, and make it a more inclusive — make sport more inclusive and diverse and equitable,” Press told ABC 7 in San Francisco. “I’ve played abroad and have seen women’s soccer in cultures where they don’t have something like Title IX and I’ve seen the affects.”