ESPN’s Foudy on Series job: We’re all fighting to get on it

Add Julie Foudy to the list of ESPN personalities who consider the Little League World Series one of the better assignments on their calendar.

The retired United States women’s national soccer team captain turned soccer analyst said she wanted to come for awhile, and was pleased to ge the call this year as a field reporter.

“ESPN loves, loves, loves this event and we’re all fighting to get on it,” said Foudy Thursday at the annual Rey Keyes Kiwanis luncheon at The Genetti, saying announcers Karl Ravech and Aaron Boone talk about the event “like it’s their baby.

“This crew, they’ve been here 20 years, 30 years, it’s a break from their long-lived coverage of sports and this innocence is a great reminder to the people watching at home that think sports are super intense and serious,” said Foudy. “What? It’s just sports and this is a great event. They encourage us to bring families and the kids.”

Foudy’s athletic exploits had a huge effect on families and kids, as she co-captained the famed 1999 World Cup champion team that raised the popularity of both soccer and sports for girls and women and remains and advocate for all of it. A four-time All-American at Stanford, she also won a first World Cup in 1991, Olympic gold medals in 1996 and 2004 and a silver in 2000 in a career that spanned from 1988-2004.

Her young children play soccer too, they didn’t have a choice she said, but were also into basketball, soccer, golf, and others.

“I’m not big on sport specification early on,” said Foudy. “My 8-year old wants to play tackle football, but it’s flag for now. We just want to open as many doors as possible.

“The more we can expose young kids to playing and transfer what we do to the next phase, not a day goes by that I don’t call on things from sports and the amazing women I competed with all those years,” said Foudy. “Now I talk about it all on TV and run around in the stands for two weeks.”

It’s a little boys’ world here, and someone asked Foudy what it was like to be a woman in sports broadcasting, historically thought to be a man’s world.

“When I started in 2006 there weren’t many women on TV at all in sports, and the voices in your earpieces from the producers were men and now you’re hearing women,” said Foudy, who said the network has been great about changing that despite moments of frustration. “Oh, women can’t talk about sports, but then we have them as an anchor and it’s like we should have been doing this for years. The shift is happening, and I’d love to see more women doing TV. We’re constantly trying to pull the younger ones along.”

She’s been taping bits all week for the network, from sliding down hills – “I did it in the rain. Who wants to do that in the sun? That’s boring” – to a piece on the mascot Dugout to snapping a selfie earlier with 2014 LLWS star Mo’ne Davis in the stands.

She even found time for the river walk along the Susquehanna, saying it was “hard, because I ran and didn’t walk.”

“The friendliness of the people here,” has stood out to Foudy. “Not a day goes by where you don’t have an usher, an uncle, a manager ask if you’re enjoying it here. It’s been a thrill for me. I call soccer games and do interviews and they told me to go have fun.”