U.S. Women’s National Team General Manager Kate Markgraf, who earned 201 caps for the USA, was one of the youngest players on the historic 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup winning team, won two Olympic gold medals (2004 and 2008) and played 96 matches for Notre Dame in an All-American career highlight by winning the 1995 NCAA title, will receive the NCAA’s Silver Anniversary Award.
The award is given to six former NCAA student-athletes on the 25th anniversary of the end of their intercollegiate athletics eligibility. Markgraf will receive her award at the NCAA Convention in San Antonio in January of 2023. The only other women’s soccer player to earn the award are former University of Wisconsin goalkeeper Dr. Heather Taggert, who currently specializes in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Markgraf’s former National Team teammates Julie Foudy (Stanford University) and Mia Hamm (University of North Carolina).
“I really enjoyed my time at Notre Dame as student and an athlete and it’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years,” said Markgraf. “I’m honored to receive this award on behalf of the countless females that helped facilitate the opportunities to compete collegiately and professionally. The recognition of this award is for all of us to show that when given an opportunity, we all can achieve great things and raise the level of progress for all.”
Along with Markgraf, the other 2023 recipients are football kicker Phil Dawson, basketball players Allison Feaster and Dr. Marsha Harris, swimmer Lenny Krayzelburg and football player Peyton Manning.
Nominees for this prestigious award must be a college graduate, have received a varsity letter at an NCAA member institution and achieved personal distinction since graduation, which Markgraf certainly has, on and off the field. She has contributed to her alma mater as president of the Monogram club, a community comprised of former Notre Dame student-athletes and student support staff members, as well as an on-campus staff and a board of directors, and certainly enjoyed a distinguished career on the field as well as after her sporting retirement.
Markgraf was named as the first Head of Women’s Soccer and General Manger in U.S. Women’s National Team history on Aug. 12, 2019. In what was a newly created position, she took on the responsibilities of working with the head coach in creating, executing and monitoring technical plans for the U.S. WNT and all U.S. Youth National Teams, both short term and long-term.
Markgraf is charged with overseeing the technical and administrative staffs for all teams, managing the day-to-day activities around the teams, leading the planning of National Team activities, helping implement High Performance programs and representing U.S. Soccer and the Women’s National Team at various events around the country and the world. Beyond the senior team, she is responsible for influencing the development of women’s soccer within the Federation and the managing of the overall technical plan for the Women’s National Team program which include the hiring of Youth National Team coaches and staff.
Markgraf came to U.S. Soccer after spending eight years as a soccer commentator for ESPN and NBC as well as working in the academic arena.
Markgraf is one of just 12 American female players to appear 200 or more times for her country and started at center back in six consecutive world championship events for the USA. She played in 16 World Cup matches and 16 Olympic matches in her career. Known as a gritty defender with excellent speed and fitness, and an ability to dominate in the air, she started in 187 of her 201 caps. She was co-captain of the National Team during the latter part of her career. She famously scored her first and only international goal on Sept. 20, 2008, against Ireland, nailing a penalty kick to break her U.S. record scoreless streak of 192 games. She had eight career assists.
Her play at marking back during her sophomore year was instrumental in the Fighting Irish winning the 1995 NCAA championship and she was the Defensive MVP of the 1995 NCAA Final Four. She was a three-time All Big East selection and the Big East Defensive Player of the Year as a senior
At the professional club level, Markgraf played for the Boston Breakers in the WUSA, the first professional league in the USA, for all three years of its existence and then played a few matches for the Chicago Red Stars at the tail end of her career during the startup of the second pro league, the WPS. She also did a brief stint in Sweden with KIF Orebro DFF in 2005.
Markgraf came back to the National Team twice after the birth of her three children, first after son Keegan was born in 2006 and then briefly after her twins Xavier and Carson were born in 2009.
In 2005, she was accepted into Northwestern Law School in Chicago and Northeastern Law School in Boston but deferred to continue her soccer career. She earned her degree in Science Business at Notre Dame.
After retiring from professional soccer, Markgraf went into the academic world. She holds two graduate degrees: a Master’s in Kinesiology and a Master’s in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her research on elite athletes and the influence of Grit, a psychological metric predictive of success in elite domains, was the first of its kind and was published, with her as the co-author with her advisor, in the top Sport Psychology Academic Journal, the Journal of American Sport Psychology. In addition to her work for ESPN and NBC Sports as a soccer analyst, she served as a counselor charged with the development and management of the Student Employment Program at Cardinal Stritch University, which entailed overseeing more than 200 students and more than 30 supervisors.
In addition, Markgraf has served as a volunteer assistant coach with four Division I college programs, at Marquette, Harvard, Texas and with her alma mater at Notre Dame. She also coached youth soccer in the Milwaukee area for five years.
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