On the soccer field, Charmaine Hooper set several records at the collegiate and national level.
Retired seven years ago, she’s still making history.
The 45-year-old Hooper will become the first female Black athlete to be inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame. She’s among the new class of five that includes former Maple Leafs defenceman and City TV sports reporter, Jim McKenny, that will be honoured on May 9 at Ottawa City Hall.
The daughter of retired Guyanese diplomat, Ivan Hooper, who spent two years in Zambia before being posted to Ottawa in 1978 where he took up permanent residence, Hooper led J.S. Woodsworth Secondary School to its first-ever Ontario Federation of Schools Athletic Associations’ (OFSAA) girls championship in 1986.
The Texas resident was the first national player to be capped 100 times. She achieved the milestone in 2003 in a friendly international against Mexico in Vancouver.
A member of the first-ever women’s national soccer team camp 27 years ago, Hooper turned out for Canada 129 times and scored 71 goals – both national records at the time – in a sterling 20-year career that ended in 2006. She represented Canada at the 1995, 1999 and 2003 World Cups.
The married mother has been rewarded for her excellence with many accolades. She was an honorary ambassador for the first-ever International Soccer Federation (FIFA) Under-19 World Cup in western Canada in 2002, a two-time Golden Boot winner as the top goal scorer in Japan, the H.C. Kennett Award winner in 1991 for being North Carolina State University’s Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year and the MVP of the 1999 World All-Star classic.
Two years ago, Hooper – Canada’s Female Player of the Year in 1994, 1995 and 2002 – was appointed to the FIFA Task Force 2014.
One of the game’s outspoken players, Hooper refused to play under Coach Neil Turnbull, blaming him for what she perceived to be Canada’s inept preparation for the 1999 World Cup finals. She paid the price for her candidness by losing her Canadian Soccer Association funding. The hiring of new coach Even Pellerud after the World Cup rejuvenated Hooper and sparked interest in the women’s game.
Hooper graduated from North Carolina State University, where she is the all-time leading scorer with 58 goals and 145 points and a three-time Most Valuable Player. She played professionally in Norway, Italy and Japan from 1994-1997 before returning to the United States to dominate the Women United Soccer Association league with the Chicago Cobras and the Atlanta Beat, with whom she was a three-time MVP.
Hooper was the first – and along with University of North Carolina’s Mia Hamm – the only players to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) in scoring. Hooper recorded 15 goals in 1988 and 26 the following year.
A member of the first class of United Soccer League’s Hall of Fame Inductees 11 years ago, Hooper was inducted into the national Soccer Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame last year.
The former striker becomes just the fifth Black athlete to be inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame since its establishment in 1968.
The others are former Canadian Football League players Conredge Halloway and Julius Watts who is a United States House of Representatives member, Trinidadian-born Canadian Olympian, Glenroy Gilbert, who was a member of the gold-medal winning 4 x 100-metre relay team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and kayaker, Dr. Renn Crichlow, who represented Canada at three Olympics.