These are my girls. With the help of my skillful coaching partner, I’m trying to prepare them for the 2027 World Cup. And while their silly-putty faces may lead you to believe that we’re the Bad News Bears of soccer (we kind of are) they are complete badasses.
Last fall we finished our third season together, losing only a single game en route. We certainly dominated some of those matches, but we also had to claw our way back from halftime deficits in more than a few.
The thing is, my girls know how to fight. They know how to look a formidable opponent square in the eyes and say “we’re coming for you.” They know how to be strong, fast, and powerful (our pre-game mantra).
“We’re strong! We’re fast! We’re powerful!”
They’re also mentally strong. When we have a poor first half and we talk them through the adjustments they need to make, they fly out of the second-half gates with focus and fury. They chant “be, aggressive, be-be, aggressive.” They assure me we’re going to win, and then they do what’s necessary to bring that premonition to fruition.
The biggest challenge we face, however, is not our opponents on the pitch but their opponents in society. You know, the systemic patriarchy in women’s sports and the misogynists who fight to keep it that way. The USSF knows this story well.
The discrimination lawsuit filed by the USWNT is very important. It’s important for them directly, yes, but it also has a cascading effect. Just like systemic discrimination against women in professional sports cascades all the way down to my girls, and even further. How youth-league administrators talk about girls teams vs boys teams, how coaches talk to female players, and in the end how girls carry themselves on the pitch.
Our league does well to level the field. Girls teams and boys teams are given the same opportunities, including dual-use of quality fields. (Remember this?) But I still hear occasional disparaging comments from some administrators, referees, and coaches. Some of them even women, either ignorant or victims of the patriarchy. Mostly as a modeling of what we see from the top down.
I am encouraged to see the first women-owned team in the NWSL. In fact, I am ecstatic. Especially because you are also women who are committed to the fight for equality. This is slated to be a catalyst for equality in professional sports, which will pave a great path for the youth players on our team. I have great optimism in what you’re working to build and will be cheering you on (except while you’re facing our beloved Portland Thorns on the pitch #BAONPDX).
As you know, the road ahead of you is arduous. And that road is where my girls will be traveling. That you’re there, laying foundations for equality and empowerment for them, is greatly encouraging. I often wonder how many of them will leave the beautiful game behind because they are discouraged about that lies on that road. How many will be worn down by the misogyny around them. Or…how many will be strong enough to fight through all of it, with a spirt like Abby’s, to see their boots meet the grass of a professional pitch. Some because of the work that you’re doing to encourage it.
On behalf of the girls I have been and will continue to coach, mentor, and encourage, I want to thank you. For everything you’re doing today and will do tomorrow. Your work will be the champion that girls need in their journeys to become strong, fast, and powerful. 💪🏻🔥❤️⚽️