By Mary Buckheit
Special to Page 2

The rest of the world calls soccer "the beautiful game." After watching Heather Mitts -- Page 2's newly-crowned Hottest Female Athlete of 2004 -- we're inclined to agree.

Mitts survived an opening bracket so tough it would make the NCAA hoops committee blush, and eventually dispatched reigning champion Jennie Finch and fading former champion Anna Kournikova with ease. She captured better than 30 percent of the quarter-million votes cast in the five-woman final.

Heather Mitts
This may be the closest Heather comes to pulling a "Chastain."

Seeing beauty like this mixed with the skills that made the 25-year-old defender a star with both the University of Florida and the WUSA's Philadelphia Charge, we knew we had to get to the bottom of the new champ's appeal.

But we were afraid some of our folks might end up with a restraining order instead of an interview, so we put Page 2's cool and collected Mary Buckheit in charge of peppering Heather with 10 Burning Questions. Mary diligently traced Heather's whereabouts to Costa Rica, where she is training with the U.S. National Team.

It wasn't easy -- country codes can be so confusing! -- but after a series of missed connections and emails, the international operator rang the office and asked if Mary would accept a collect call from Heather Mitts. And Mary didn't need Carrot Top to tell her what to do. She gladly accepted the charges to the Worldwide Leader, trusting that the boys running Page 2 wouldn't be able to take their eyes off this footballing femme fatale long enough to notice that she'd dialed in collect from Costa Rica ... twice.

Heather has a very healthy relationship with Eagles backup quarterback A.J. Feeley. While we're very happy for the two young lovers, we don't feel the least bit sorry about having to wreck this home. We have some words of advice for you, A.J.: "When you love something, set it free."

Heather is ours now. We promise to take good care of her.

1. Are you prepared to take on all the rigorous responsibilities incumbent on Page 2's Hottest Female Athlete?

Oh my gosh, I'll try my best! Are you serious? What are the responsibilities?

The Road to Victory
Here's a look at the very hot competition Heather beat out for the coveted crown of Page 2's Hottest Female Athlete of 2004.
The personal appearances? The global tour? There's a code of behavior involved here.

Oh, sure! Absolutely. As long as I can fit that into my Olympic training schedule.

Deal. We can work that out. These terms are negotiable.

Great. I'm sure the coach will be very understanding of my Page 2 responsibilities.

2. How did you find out that you were the new champ?

My publicist wrote me an email and let me know that I had won. Not only am I, of course, very honored by this very prestigious nomination, but I was completely shocked that I had won. Actually, before my publicist told me that I'd won, my step-sister had informed me about the poll through an email a few days before; and, of course, I went to check out the site.

Did you size up your competition?

Yes, I did, and everybody on there was beautiful! I figured I'd be lucky to finish in the top five, no joke. There were a lot of gorgeous girls on there.

Well, you pulled it off pretty comfortably.

I have to admit that it pays to have a lot of family and friends and loyal Philly fans. I think my boyfriend may have voted about 2,000 times.

Well, even if he did, you still won by about 10,000 votes. But we might have to investigate some computer cookies and make sure this victory is legit. This is a serious competition, you know, Heather.

Heather Mitts
The picture that may have put Heather Mitts over the top.

Oh, I know. Very serious. I'm very serious about it, too. I actually didn't vote because that would be illegal. Oh, my goodness, I could not have won by that much. I have to ask A.J. how many times he voted, bless his little heart. I thought Anna would win hands down!

C'mon. Anna is yesterday's newspaper. You beat her by 28,000 votes!

I did?? Oh my God. She is appearing in the swimsuit issue!

Eh, who isn't these days. Are you next?

I don't know! Hopefully! We'll see!

3. Have you ever met Jennie Finch?

No, I haven't. But actually, this is kind of ironic because as we were flying out here to Costa Rica, I opened up a USA Today and she was all over it. She had a big spread in there that day. So I had just read about her. And actually, I remember her from last year's contest. I remember her picture and everything. I think she is very pretty.

Well, the voters have spoken and you are apparently about 10,000 votes prettier.

Was she even in it this year?

Yeah, of course she was in the running. She came in second. It was neck-and-neck between you two for a little while, and then you ran away with it.

That must have been the day that A.J. was online.

What words of solace can you offer Jennie, now that you've dethroned her?

Well, she won it last year, and she totally deserved it. But you've gotta keep it interesting. Change is good. So I'd say thanks for letting me get a piece of the pie.

4. Who do you think is the Hottest Male Athlete around?

Umm, hands down, A.J. Feeley. Hello!

Thank you, Ms. Objectivity. Voting for your boyfriend. I see how it is.

Oh yes. I have to.

5. You've dated a couple of athletes. You used to go out with Philly Pat Burrell ...

Yeah, but we don't have to talk about that, do we?

Nope. Fair enough. But which sport do you think produces the cutest guys?

Umm. If I didn't say football, I'd be in big trouble.

You're so good. But c'mon, besides A.J., who would you like to get your mitts on?

OK, besides A.J. -- make sure you get that in there! -- I think I'd have to say soccer players. David Beckham -- yeah, he's easy on the eyes.

A.J. Feely
Never thought we'd say this, but backup QBs have all the luck.

6. How is it that backup QBs are snagging the famous honeys? A.J.'s got you, Tim Hasselbeck has Elizabeth from "Survivor," Jesse Palmer is "The Bachelor" ... What gives? You guys don't deserve the starter?

You know what? I don't think it matters. Honestly, I had pretty much decided at one point that I really didn't want to date another professional athlete again. But the circumstances that I met A.J. under were kind of different. I mean, when I met him I just knew that he was unlike anybody that I've ever met.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you guys were introduced?

Umm, sure. Haha. Oh,man. Well, it was kind of funny. Like I said, I really didn't want to date any more athletes, and especially a football player! He happened to come over one day because his roommate was dating my roommate. It was kind of one of those things where I knew he was coming over but I really didn't care all that much. I didn't really know him, but I wasn't that interested in the whole thing. I was just kind of 'whatever' about the situation. So he came over and I'm just relaxing, wasn't really dressed very nice. I was just frumpy, hanging around the house. So he comes over and I answer the door and I see him and I was like, "Oh, hi." I'm thinking, "He's kinda cute!" So ... I go back upstairs, get all dolled up, come back down and we just totally hit it off.

So how long have you guys been together?

A little over a year now.

Uh-oh, this is serious. You're breaking hearts left and right.

Oh no! Good thing I won. I'll only serve a one-year term, now. Oh well.

7. Would you ever perform a Brandi Chastain sports-bra-style celebration?

The chances of that happening are slim to none, because I am a defender and I will probably never score a goal. And if I did, it would never be in those circumstances.

C'mon, you could take a penalty kick. You never know.

Ha. Thanks, but there are definitely at least five other people who they'd rather see standing out there.

You're pleading the fifth, I see.

Yes. I'll wiggle out of that question.

8. What's going on with the WUSA these days? Any word on reorganization?

Heather Mitts
She may never score a goal, but she's scored plenty of points with Page 2 readers.

Awww, I don't know. Geez, I hope so. Actually, we know for sure that we have three weekends scheduled in June -- the WUSA Festival Weekends -- where we travel to three different cities and do a couple of different exhibition games and some events. We want to let people know that we are still around and we're still planning on a 2005 season.

So a 2005 season is a safe bet?

I don't know. The feeling is definitely positive, but we still need to get the word out there some more and try and get a lot more sponsors to bring this back.

Would you ever think about playing overseas if things don't work out back here?

Yeah, I definitely have thought about that. Luckily, I'm playing with the National Team right now. But if I weren't, I'd be thinking more seriously about what I have to do to continue my soccer career. I've thought about the move overseas; but obviously if I had a choice, I'd definitely want to stay here.

If your soccer career hits a wall, I hear you are interested in broadcasting. You've done some work with us here at the Worldwide Leader already.

Yes, I have. It's definitely something I would consider. I would love to.

You've been to Bristol and you're still interested?

Ha! Yes. Is that where you are right now?

Yep.

Oh. ... But it can't get any better than working at ESPN! I'd love it! Do you like it? How long have you been there? -- Oh, sorry, I'm getting off the subject. And I'm calling collect -- from Costa Rica! I'm so sorry!!

9. If you could invite any three people to dinner, who would you choose?

Muhammad Ali. Oprah. And, umm ... Man, this is so random! I have no idea! And Julia Roberts.

The Champ, Oprah and a pretty woman. A.J. gets the shaft.

Shoot, he does, doesn't he?

You've been so loyal to him through this whole thing. He'll deal.

Oh, man. Now I feel bad.

He can cook for you guys.

Yeah, there we go. He can be in the kitchen cookin'!

10. The Mitts bobblehead doll giveaway drew the Charge's biggest crowd ever, right? Did you know that?

Heather Mitts
We thought you'd enjoy this picture more than one of her bobblehead doll.

Yeah.

Did you at least get to keep one?

Yeah, they let me keep two.

Only two?

No, two boxes.

Two boxes full??

Yep.

Can we have one?!

Yeah, sure.

One box?

I may have some extras floating around.

We'll definitely need one to grace the mantle of Page 2 with our reigning champion's bobblehead. And if we get some extras, we can do win a date with Heather Mitts ... 's bobblehead.

Hah. A.J. is not going to like this one bit! He would hate that. He was stressing out about the poll!

Tell A.J. you are ours now, Heather. Welcome home.

Oh boy, this is all very interesting.

Do you get grief from your teammates for all the glamour shots and beauty pub?

Umm, I hear it a little bit from them sometimes. With the Charge, some of the girls would poke at me, but it was always in good fun.

Has the National Team caught wind of this yet?

No! I haven't said a peep about this!!

Are you trying to keep it under wraps?

I'm actually really glad we are out of the country right now. There's not much of a rumor mill here in Costa Rica. This is a very good thing right now!

Mary Buckheit is an editor for ESPN.com. She makes contributions to Page 2 and is Page 3's advice columnist. She can be reached at Mary.J.Buckheit@espn3.com or email her a question here.