Lewis sisters go to World Cup, hang out with idol Mia Hamm

June 22, 2015

CHrh-Q3UEAAXI9uTwins Ariela and Aaliyah Lewis of Anchorage got the shock of their life when their parents planned a surprise trip to the Women’s World Cup in Canada.

The one-game trip got even better after they watched Team USA beat Nigeria 1-0 and took a selfie with soccer icon Mia Hamm in the box seats at the game.

Actually, they did more than just take a photo. They had met Hamm last year and she remembered the sisters, so they talked for a bit.

“We worked a camp with her last summer and coincidentally she had seats in the box behind us, so when she came over we asked if she recognized us and remembered us, the twins from Alaska, so that was great,” Aaliyah told me. “She’s such a kind person and an inspiration. Of course, I’m just glad she took the time to talk with us and ask about our season and about Alaska and how the club was doing.”

Hamm is as big a soccer star as there is in the women’s game, yet she still seeks connections with younger players like the Lewis sisters, who will be juniors this fall at Alabama State University.

“Meeting Mia Hamm was quite the blessing, even the second time around,” Ariela told me. “She has been my idol since I was in elementary school. The fact that she remembered us and wanted to engage in a conversation was even more heart stopping and showing how amazing of a person she really is.”

The Lewis sisters are stars themselves – in 2013 they were the top scoring sister act in NCAA D1 women’s soccer with a combined 82 points on 33 goals and 16 assists.

Both players are coming off injuries; Ariela had surgery 10 months ago; Aaliyah seven months ago. Both are training hard to get back to full strength for 2015 and going to the World Cup was a nice reward for all their hard work with rehab.

“We drove up to Vancouver from Washington and right from the border, it was getting exciting,” Ariela said. “We saw all these cars waiting to get into Canada like us, wearing their U.S. gear and screaming out their windows so we already predicted it would be a lively atmosphere – and it was.

“People waiting to get in or waiting for the game to start would start a cheer or the wave and soon enough had an entire section of people joining in. The energy of everyone just transferred from person to person. It was so fun and exciting.”

Like most kids the Lewis twins grew up dreaming of one day playing in the World Cup. It’s one thing to watch the games on TV. It’s another to actually be there in person.

“It was so inspirational, I felt like I fell in love with the game all over again, as if I was reminded why I love the game,” Aaliyah said. “The best part was experiencing all the people in paint and colors of red, white and blue, cheering on the girls. It was exhilarating being a part of great energy.”