Learning the TV analyst ropes not easy for Mitts

Former Florida Gator Heather Mitts produced a stellar season at right back for the Philadelphia Charge in the inaugural season of the WUSA, and she was rewarded by getting the call-up to her first U.S. national team camp. Not only did Mitts make U.S. head coach April Heinrich’s 18-player roster for the Nike U.S. Women’s Cup, but also she earned her second cap in the U.S. vs. Germany game on Sept. 9.

Mitts, who is serving as a color commentator for televised Southeast Conference women’s soccer games this fall, recently spoke from her home in Cincinnati, Ohio, about her national team experience, what she expects from Year Two of the WUSA, and why she just might put fellow color analyst Julie Foudy out of a job.

Are you enjoying your TV work with the SEC?

Last year I worked with the Sunshine Network and I did three games. It was the first time I’d ever done anything like that; I didn’t have any experience or background in that area at all. I just came out and was a color analyst for the games. This year SEC soccer approached me and asked if I would like to do the same thing for them.

What was it like being on that end of the game?

I think it’s harder. For the most part I’m still learning and adjusting. It’s a lot different being on the other side, having to pay attention to the smallest details and then explaining them. I enjoy doing it, and hopefully I’ll get better every game and do it again next year.

How many games are you doing this year?

I’ve already done two for the Sunshine Network, and I believe I’m doing five for the SEC.

Do you have to do your homework?

You definitely have to. SEC’s harder because I haven’t seen a lot of the players, so I get the media guides and do the homework but then you get out there and then it’s like, who’s who? You have to know the name, the number, and the face, and talk about them. It’s tough.

Are you interested in pursuing something in this field down the line?

I think so. It all depends on whether I improve. If I do keep improving, then yes, I’d like to keep doing it. But if it’s not my niche, then I probably won’t keep on doing it.

Maybe you could take over for Foudy and do the College Cup someday.

(Laughs) I don’t know. I think Foudy’s actually somebody that I would like to learn from. I try to get as many tapes on her as I can because I think she’s a tremendous color analyst.

What was your reaction when you got invited to the national team, and what it was like going into camp with the U.S.

Well, honestly it’s always been a dream of mine to be on the national team, and when I got the call-up, I was shocked and excited at the same time. I went into camp not really expecting a whole lot because it was my first time in and I wasn’t really sure if I was going to make the roster. But I wanted to go in there and play to my best ability and hopefully have an opportunity to be asked back. That was my main goal. So when I got named to the roster, I was so excited. It was everything I had ever dreamed of.

Talk about playing against Germany. It was your second cap?

It was my second cap, but the first time I played against Finland a couple years ago, for the most part, there were a lot of younger players playing, so I didn’t really feel like it was the same. Germany has been playing wonderfully. April said that this was one of the best teams in the world and that they’d had nothing but success until that point. Playing definitely pointed out my flaws as far as what I need to improve on, and it even motivated me.

What do you feel you need to improve on?

Well, I don’t know how much time we have. There are a lot of things, and I wrote them down during and after the camp so I could work on them. It’s all tactical stuff like my long balls and my decision-making and my first touch. They’re all things I feel I’ve improved on, but I need to keep improving, and that’s what I want to work on in this off-season. I’m getting ready to go down to Florida for a month and a half to train with the team.

What else are you occupying your time with in the offseason?

I’m trying to keep as busy as possible. Commentating and going down to Florida are keeping me busy right now, but after that I’ll have some down time, so I’m going to come home and spend Thanksgiving and Christmas here. I’m at home now but I’ll only be here for a week. In January I want to get going again. I’m probably going to go somewhere warm, like somewhere in Arizona, and start training.

What are you doing to train on your own?

Right now my [left] knee’s hurt so I’m not really supposed to do anything for a couple more weeks. I hyper-extended it in the semifinals against Atlanta and I’ve just been playing on it and it has gotten worse. It actually really started hurting me after national team camp, so I’m trying to relax and get ready for this next camp in October. It’s hard for me mentally because I feel like I should be out doing something.

What are your expectations for Season Two?

I think that we could’ve gone farther, and as a team, our goal is going to be to win the whole thing. Obviously our team is going to be a lot different next year so taking those new players and embracing them and making the most out of the new team is another main goal.