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Akers Chooses Camp Over Clinton

July 23, 1999

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) _ Deciding whether to hobnob with President Clinton or coach the next generation of soccer players was not a hard choice for World Cup soccer champion Michele Akers.

The 34-year-old eschewed the post-victory celebrations of the U.S. women’s championship team, including a trip to the White House, to work in a summer soccer camp. On Thursday, about 400 young soccer players showed their appreciation with wild cheers.

She was emotional and surprised by the large and eager crowd.

``I expected maybe three people,″ she said later.

The Washington state native said the past year has been an emotional roller coaster of victories and losses and battling her personal challenges, including the chronic fatigue syndrome that leaves her feeling like she has the flu every day.

``It’s been a tough year and a tough career,″ she told the crowd. ``I’ve been on the U.S. team 14 years and not all of it has been easy. I’ve been beat up a bit.″

Akers credited her strong Christian faith, her family, coaches and fans for sustaining her.