As the United States’ bid for the World Cup comes to an end, it’s only right to take a minute to acknowledge their passionate play for the title and the excellence that helped to get them to The Round of 16, the heroic efforts of their goalie, Tim Howard.
In their gut-wrenching loss to Belgium by 1 point, Tim made national history when he broke the world record for most saves in a game, when he amassed a whopping 16. Throughout the tournament, Howard helped push his team past their formidable foes, diving and leaping to protect their goal. He became a fan favorite as his passion and zeal in his role was nothing but contagious, firing up spectators and teammates alike.
It should come as no surprise that Howard would deliver under such high pressure conditions, as his track record shows. Scouted by former national team coaches before he was even a teenager, Howard excelled in the sport of soccer, (and basketball…he was even recruited by the Harlem Globetrotters in 2009!) and has been a well-respected and highly sought goalkeeper since his high school years. He has received numerous awards and accolades over the years from national and international associations, a testament to the reach of his work.
But what many don’t know about Howard and what makes his story even more amazing is the fact he has battled with a disease, Tourette’s Syndrome, since the sixth grade. Tourette’s is an often crippling and alienating neurological disorder characterized by multiple uncontrollable physical and vocal “tics”. These tics are often exacerbated by factors such as stress, hormones and environment.
The goalkeeper, the last line of defense on the team, is one of the most stressful and high pressure positions in any sport and Howard was not only able to learn to control his stress levels in order to play at the most elite of levels, but do so well enough to shine and exceed expectations. When asked how he is able to control his tics and be so effective, he calmly responded, “I have no idea how I do it, not even my doctors can explain it to me. It’s probably because at that moment, my concentration on the game is stronger than the Tourette’s Syndrome.”
If that’s not enough, Tim is a HUGE humanitarian, dedicating a lot of his downtime to work with children afflicted with his disease.
Let’s make sure we remember to salute Tim Howard not only for his athletic excellence but his strong and inspirational character to make the absolute best of the hand he was dealt.