Lauren Cheney, UCLA Student - Soccer


By Kristine Breese

Published Jul 1, 2008 8:00 AM

Competing for U.S. ~ 1st Olympics

As the consensus No. 1 recruit in the nation coming out of her Indianapolis high school, Lauren Cheney has heard more than once that she plays with a lot of heart — a poignant irony, since the 20-year-old Olympic hopeful was born with a congenital heart defect and had open-heart surgery when she was 3 years old. Cheney’s medical team encouraged her parents to keep her active and get her involved in sports to keep her heart strong, and she was a soccer standout before her sixth birthday.

"I think I’ve wanted to go to the Olympics since I was 7 years old, and the 1999 Women’s World Cup win only made me want it that much more," Cheney says, but for her, "UCLA is not just about soccer, it’s about learning how I can contribute to the world."

Gold Medalist. Cheney played 49 minutes in the gold-medal match against Brazil on Aug. 21. The U.S. women played to a 1-0 victory. The medal match was Cheney's longest stint in these Olympic games: she appeared briefly in the Aug. 15 match vs. Canada and the Aug. 18 match vs. Japan.

Originally named to the team as an alternate, Cheney was a late addition to the 18-player U.S. squad following an injury to forward Abby Wambach.