Before she was a World Cup hero, Rose Lavelle dressed up as a World Cup hero for a school project.
Lavelle, whose 68th-minute goal all but sealed the victory for the U.S. women’s national team in the World Cup final, was once a third-grader at St. Vincent Ferrer School in Cincinnati, where her teacher assigned her to read a biography of a personal hero and give a presentation about the book while dressed as that hero.
Lavelle was already a USWNT fanatic at age eight and chose to do her book report on Mia Hamm, coming to class in a No. 9 jersey with a gold medal hanging around her neck. After Sunday’s victory, St. Vincent principal Mikki Dunkley shared a photo of Lavelle’s costume on the school’s Facebook page for everyone to see.
“Once upon a time, this little girl dressed up as her hero, Mia Hamm, for a book sharing project,” Dunkley wrote alongside the picture. “Today, this amazing woman won her own gold medal, wearing the number 16, as part of the United States National Women’s Team that won their 4th World Cup Championship AND she won the Bronze Ball as the third best player in the tournament! Now, little girls everywhere look up to her, and will be working hard to become like Rose. Here’s to you, Rose Lavelle, and the entire Lavelle Family. The St. Vincent Ferrer School and Church Community are so proud of you!”
The costume even caught the eye of Hamm herself.
Lavelle’s sporting accomplishments have made everyone proud but the teacher who assigned the book project, Lisa Neubauer, was willing to admit she didn’t always believe Lavelle should be focusing so much on soccer.
“She was very bright and she was good in all of her classes,” Neubauer told the Washington Post. “Missing school at that young of an age really wasn’t that big of a deal, but I was just worried that she was going to have gaps because she wasn’t here that much. I said to her mom, Janet, ‘It’s not like she’s going to grow up to be a professional soccer player.’”
After Lavelle was taken with the first pick in the NWSL draft, her mother politely reminded Neubauer about her doubts.