WATCH: Meet Dr. Hacker, the secret weapon behind USWNT ’96 Olympic gold

When U.S. Soccer fans remember the gold medal winning team from the 1996 Olympic Games, we often think about legends like Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, or Brandi Chastain. But what about the support team on the sidelines? On Wednesday, the Olympic Channel released a new episode in their series “Gold Medal Entourage,” which profiled the U.S. women’s national team secret weapon: Dr. Colleen Hacker, their mental skills coach.

Hamm remembers how Dr. Hacker helped the team through the toughest parts of the tournament, particularly when they were down 1-0 against Norway in the semifinals.

“If you were in our locker room at halftime, you thought we were up 3-0,” said Mia Hamm. “There was no panic. Dr. Hacker really just took all of us to a new level. She just brought this infectious positive energy to everything we did … We couldn’t wait for the next 45 minutes.”

After the U.S. women’s national team faced a crushing defeat in the final of the 1995 World Cup, Dr. Hacker was brought onto the squad as the first mental skills coach. Through visualization techniques, trust building activities and strategies to cope with mistakes, Dr. Hacker taught these women how to foster mental toughness and team bonding.

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“I didn’t go in with some illusion that I had some magic potion,” said Hacker about her approach with the team. “It was going to be about hard work and learning the techniques and strategies that would help them deal with the weight of the Olympics being in the United States and being a gold medal favorite.”

Watch the video to learn more about Dr. Hacker’s impact on U.S. Soccer.

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