RICHLAND — You should have heard by now, but in case you've been depriving yourself of the miracle of television, Richland's own Hope Solo has become a national media darling.
And not necessarily because of her exploits on the soccer field.
As a contestant on ABC's Dancing With the Stars, Solo has managed to survive five weeks with Latin Ballroom champ Maks Chmerkovskiy and impress a few judges along the way.
Not every week is a great one, however. Solo was criticized by judge Len Goodman for her latest effort — a rumba that fell short of its mark. Goodman even called her out for her choice of footwear. But Chmerkovskiy stepped up to her defense afterwards with this sharp outburst:
"Don’t tell me it was your worst dance of the season because you’re an idiot, you know it’s not true. I’ve also danced for 27 years and I’ve won more titles than Len ever even participated in."
Richland girls soccer coach Sara Elfering wasn't used to watching the show, but she started tuning in to follow her former Bombers teammate, with whom she won the 4A state soccer title in 1998.
"There was a little controversy tonight. I think she's not progressing as fast as she'd like to, and she's very competitive. Any sort of competition isn't really fun for her," Elfering said.
One theory is that she might be wearing down from the demands of the show and longs to return to the more comfortable confines of her chosen profession.
"That's what she's been saying the whole time," Elfering said. "She's probably jealous of her teammates right now."
Elfering did get to share a memorable moment with her Richland players — courtesy of Solo and the U.S. women's national team — back on Sept. 22 at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland. The Bombers got to watch the women's World Cup runners' up beat Canada 3-0.
Afterwards, Elfering's connection to Solo was instrumental in allowing her team to meet the former Bombers' star forward.
"Hope was nice enough to come out and sign for us and interact with all the girls," Elfering said. "I'm sure she has a lot of crazy demands on her schedule."
Elfering said she doesn't keep in touch with Solo very much anymore, but it's mostly because their lives are so vastly different.
"We were fairly good friends back in high school, but when you get famous things change."
Elfering has been impressed with the way Solo has handled the heavy burden of stardom. After I told Sara I wasn't sure I'd be happy with the price of fame, she agreed wholeheartedly.
"I don't think I'm nice enough to be famous. It's so hard to find the right thing to say, especially after tough games," she said. "I think I'd be the hated one."