One of the biggest moments of the parade—mid-fielder Megan Rapinoe proudly holds up the World Cup trophy while alongside fan-favorite and mid-fielder Carli Lloyd and Mayor Bill De Blasio.

Sarah Balch for InStyle.com
Briana Draguca
Jul 10, 2015 @ 6:15 pm

Watching the U.S. Women win the 2015 FIFA World Cup was a huge deal for me. I was a player myself as a mid-fielder and my dad was a coach for a soccer team in the city, so soccer became second nature for me. It felt like I waited my whole life for this moment.

I was around for their 1999 win but I was too young to understand how much of an impact their victory would have for women like myself in America and around the world. I can only imagine my dad turning on the game, placing me in a mini jersey and propping me up next to him because he swore that I was his good luck charm when it came to sports (and he still does!).

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For 16 years the U.S. team struggled with their luck in the World Cup but I had a feeling that 2015 was going to be their year. Every time the U.S. women played I dedicated my entire night to researching the competition, liking Carli Lloyd’s inspirational Instagrams, and painting three red, white and blue stars on my little brother’s face. And with every game I became more obsessed with what these female players we’re doing for soccer fans like me, who dreamed of going pro, and for girls around the world, who are chasing huge dreams themselves.

InStyle intern Briana Draguca gets into the spirit by sharing a throwback photo from her soccer days.
 

Sarah Balch for InStyle.com

Proof of my soccer obsession from a young age.

For me these women weren’t just winning matches, they were playing to inspire other women and young girls to kick-ass in absolutely everything they do. They were living out my ultimate soccer dream. Throughout the World Cup, it felt as if I was living this dream with them. I actually cried tears of joy when the final whistle blew. I was so proud to have watched their power.

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So of course, I had to go to their ticker-tape parade.

The parade took place along the “Canyon of Heroes," which runs from Battery Park to City Hall in New York City. Fans lined the streets anxiously waiting for the action to begin. The crowd was a sea of people in red, white, and blue, who were beaming with excitement and waving flags in the air. People threw confetti from their office windows, making the sky look white, and horns finally blew to signify that the wait was over.

When I saw forward Abby Wambach I was star-struck. She was waving to the fans while using her Go-Pro to document every minute of it. Everyone was shouting “USA!” and it made me smile when she and forward Christen Press joined in. It was crazy to see the players celebrating right before my eyes when I had watched them for so long.

Seeing forward Alex Morgan was a big moment for me—I could not stop smiling as I watched her take a selfie with mid-fielder Morgan Brian. Goalkeeper Hope Solo was alongside defender Ali Krieger and in their matching World Champion T-shirts they reached out to catch the confetti and threw it around each other. Forward Sydney Leroux wore a huge Uncle Sam hat and took selfies herself with fans in the background—I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I got in one!

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I got chills when the float holding mid-fielder Megan Rapinoe, mid-fielder Carli Lloyd and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio came by. Megan held up the shiny gold World Cup trophy above her head at the exact moment the float passed me, and there was a huge uproar from the fans. I was smiling from ear to ear and jumping around with the crowd. I couldn’t control myself!

The parade was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever witnessed. These women have become an inspiration for myself and all women around the world and I feel so lucky that I was there to watch them receive the recognition that they deserve. Their victory signifies so much more than just a shiny trophy and fancy parade—their victory reminds us girls that we can kick-ass just like they did in everything that we set our mind to do.

PHOTOS: See More Scenes from the U.S. Women's World Cup Parade

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