International Women’s Day marks a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, political and athletic achievements of all women and AYSO is proud to take part. In honor of International Women’s Day, AYSO is highlighting some of the amazing AYSO women that continue to drive a better world for soccer and beyond! These women continue to defy limits on and off the field with the goal of creating a better future. We hope to continue to be the training grounds of countless successful women who become amazing role models for the next generations of female AYSO players to come.
Alex Morgan is a prolific forward, Olympic gold medalist, FIFA Women’s World Cup champion and 2018 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year. A shining example to millions of women and young athletes around the world, Morgan is a vital piece of the growth of the women’s game!
Morgan on her greatest influence as a youth soccer player
The ‘99 World Cup team because that was the first time I’d seen women on TV playing soccer and completely dominating the game.
Morgan on what advice she’d give to the next generation of players
Advice I’d give to young soccer players is to believe in yourself first of all and that hard work takes you way farther than any talent that you start off with. It’s really that simple. There’s no secret to success, but it starts with that self-belief.
Shannon Boxx, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, FIFA World Player of the Year finalist and a World Cup winner – all while battling an autoimmune disease. She is an incredible example of determination and courage in the face of adversity. Now a coach alongside other USWNT legends, Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone, Boxx may be the spark to another great generation of female players.
Boxx on her AYSO days
I learned that real ball skills were more important than tricks to win the ball in AYSO. I also learned that it was ok to get knocked around and fall down while playing soccer. You just got to get back up again!
Beverly Yanez, AYSO alum from Moreno Valley, CA, is a tenured player with National Women Soccer League’s Reign FC. She is the third player in club history to appear in 100 regular-season matches and won the Nadeshiko League’s Golden Boot/Top Scorer award in 2013 during her time with prestigious Japanese soccer club INAC Kobe. Yanez was recently a part of a joint partnership between the NWSL and U.S. Soccer, where 21 players representing every team in the league were offered C license coaching courses free of cost in an effort to increase the number of female coaches.
What women in soccer means to Beverly
Soccer has brought so much to my life. A lot of who I am today is because of what the sport has taught me. How to work with other players to come to one common goal. How to time manage and be effective and work hard every day. How to be the best version of yourself for the common good of the team. For that I am forever grateful! I’m so proud to support other girls and women continuing to chase their dreams and inspiring others along the way. I hope no matter your age that you find inspiration from other women and girls to try a sport!
Follow Beverly Yanez at: instagram.com/bevyanez
From a leader on the pitch to leading Chicago’s supporters in the stands! Nicole Hack is the chair of the renowned Independent Supporters Association for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, Section 8 Chicago (http://www.s8c.org/). Hack is an AYSO alum, advocate of Chicago Women’s soccer and member of CF97 Sirens, a group of like-minded women, who collectively support the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. Her fervor for growing the game is unmatched and we can’t wait to see what else she will accomplish.
How AYSO influenced Nicole’s life in soccer
When I first started playing soccer, I played with AYSO. I was timid and afraid to go to my first practice, but my parents reminded me that after the first day, I had the best time and wanted to play more. Since that day, soccer has been a large part of my identity, as I’ve continued to play, support, and advocate for women in the game.
Today, I am Chair of Section 8 Chicago the Independent Supporters; Association of the Chicago Fire – I think if shy, seven-year-old Nicole was able to see what I was doing now, she’d be proud of how far she’s come.
What it means to Nicole to get more women involved in playing and supporting the sport of soccer
Women have been highly underrepresented in the game in both supporting, playing, managing, reporting, and more. It’s important for me to utilize my voice and experiences in hopes that it allows other women the opportunity to be more actively involved in the game. There’s no reason that women should not have the same opportunities as men do in terms of playing and supporting soccer, and I will continue to advocate for all of us.
Learn more about Nicole Hack and her soccer story here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fz2v-z7Eo90
Photo: Melissa Ortiz & sebasbk.com
Melissa Ortiz, former professional soccer player and Olympian for the Colombian National Team, is an advocate for equality within the Federación Colombiana de Fútbol (Colombian Football Federation). A true lover of the sport of soccer and its growth, Ortiz created thesoccerblogger.com in order to shine a light on the lifestyle surrounding soccer – covering current soccer news, training tips, and interview pieces.
What International Women’s Day means to Melissa
International Women’s Day to me is very important. It’s a day to celebrate all of the brave and strong woman who have spoken up, fought for our rights, and paved the road we have today. It is also a day to analyze the realities of the still current gender gaps. There are still inequalities worldwide and it is vital for all women to unite and make our voices heard.
Melissa’s movement for equality
Isabella Echeverri and I started a movement called #menosmiedomasfutbol (lessfearmoresoccer). We have been faced with many inequalities and discrimination on the Colombian Women’s National Team. Finally, after 8 years on the team we took a stance and shared our issues of the Federation with the public via social media. We have created a very powerful women’s movement in Colombia and have even had our country’s Vice President support us. My message of motivation is to all players and girls that everyone has a voice, and we must be heard.
Learn more about Melissa Ortiz and her movement here: instagram.com/melissaortiz5
From Italy to West Michigan, Chiara Cartarasa came to the U.S. last year through a student exchange program with the hopes of broadening her life experiences. Little did she know her host family would be an AYSO family and she would soon find herself playing with AYSO United – igniting a love for soccer in the U.S. Now back in Italy after completing her exchange program, Chiara is playing with Italian club Calcio Femminile Marsala (Women’s Soccer Marsala). Filled with ambition to reach the next level, Chiara’s hard work will be the inspiration for future female AYSO United dreamers to reach success on and off the field!
Chiara on her goals in women’s soccer
I want to practice, to grow up and improve and maybe one day, when I’m ready, play in a team in Serie A or in the United States.
Follow Chiara and her soccer journey: instagram.com/chiara_cartarasa
Former president of United Soccer Coaches and University of Washington women’s head coach, Lesle Gallimore has coached college soccer for more than two decades, entering her 26th this fall. She played AYSO just after it launched girls’ leagues in the South Torrance-Redondo Beach, Calif., area, and also remembers her first teams: Red Hots, Leprechauns and Majestics. Title IX was enacted in 1972, a year after AYSO started the girls’ soccer revolution, but wasn’t enforced until the 1980s. Little did Lesle know she would be in the middle of a pivotal moment in women’s soccer.
Lesle on being in the middle of the girl’s soccer revolution
I never thought about it at the time, but thinking back on it I now know that I was right smack in the middle of the Title IX movement. And I grew up in Torrance where AYSO was on the cutting edge of youth soccer in general, let alone the beginnings of girls getting to play sports that boys did.
About International Women’s Day (from internationalwomensday.com)
International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated annually on March 8. The day has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911. The day is not country, group or organization specific – and belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.” So make International Women’s Day your day and do what you can to truly make a positive difference for women.
To learn more about International Women’s Day visit www.internationalwomensday.com.