Michelle gave her life back
to the main game. For four
years she was named a first
team soccer All-American.
After graduating, she continued
to play for the U.S. National
Team. In 1991 they set their
sights on the first Women's
World Cup Championship that
was to be held in China.
"I came home from the '91 World Cup as
world champ, best player in the world,"
says Akers. "The focal point for women's
soccer was on me, and I really came home
realizing all my dreams and immediately
went into this frenzy of appearances for the
women's game and endorsements and media
... [and then] I went to try to train again
two months later and I couldn't get going."
After trying to play for almost two
years and undergoing a barrage of medical
tests, Michelle was finally diagnosed with
a life-long illness, Chronic
Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome
Most of the time Akers felt "extreme
fatigue, just bone-weary, just dragging
myself around like I had sandbags on my
shoulders," she says. "Bad headaches,
grinding, crushing headaches, couldn't sleep
at night, terrible dreams, sweating ... I'd go
through two or three t-shirts."
Her illness affected her not only
physically, but emotionally: "Okay, here I
have achieved my dreams, I have this status,
I have this popularity, I have money, I have
a home. I have all these things I've always
dreamed of ... and yet they are ... of no use
to me and so I sat there looking at my little
trophies thinking, 'Now what?' I poured my
life into this one thing and now I can't play
even for five minutes. So now, what will I do and who am I?
"It finally came to the point where [I
couldn't] take it anymore and I went away
to Seattle where I grew up. I tried to go on
walks, I tried to go hiking, I tried to be
outside and I couldn't do it because I was so
sick, so what I ended up doing was just ...
laying on the couch thinking. It had been a
long time since I had thought about GOD,
looked at a Bible or thought about going to
church, and I just kind of said, 'Wow! Okay,
GOD. I can't do it anymore. I give up. My
life is a mess but You can have it. Whatever
I have left You can have.' From that
moment, it was not like I knew I was going
to be well again; it was not like my career
came back and everything was hunky-dory,
but I kind of knew that if I put one foot in
front of the other, I was going to make it.
You know, GOD made me and from the
beginning of time GOD already had in mind
for me who I was, how He was going to put
me together, what my life would be. He had
a specific plan for me.
"I came home from Seattle filled with
hope. I was still sick as a dog, but I began
going to church every weekend. I started
reading my Bible and it was a lot of work
and there was a lot more disappointment in
my soccer career, but I found out ... that
faith is not necessarily acting on a feeling
but saying, 'Okay. Here's what GOD says.
He has this promise for me and I can choose
to make it real.'
"And so I would daily try to choose,"
she says. "Once I did that ... I started to
understand. My faith started to become