“Perseverance” is a term this counselor employs often during client sessions. Surprisingly, many teenagers, and a few adults, lack familiarity with the word. This week has been one of many shining examples for the importance of “carrying on despite adversity,” and achieving greatness via perseverance.
The U.S. women’s soccer team claimed a resounding 5-2 victory on Sunday, in a Japan versus American rematch that was four long years in the making — bringing the nation’s 2015 birthday bash weekend to a celebratory conclusion. This collective group of seasoned veterans eventually reached Sunday’s championship rematch with their 2011 nemesis, and claimed the title that was heartbreakingly lost four years ago in a last-minute penalty kick.
Several of the teammates have overcome incredible adversity to obtain the FIFA 2015 women’s championship title, with a few having Midwestern roots. Perseverance should be the team’s motto — for their recent series of wins, and also for conquering many off-field foes.
Defender Ali Krieger attended Penn State before exiting for a professional soccer career in Germany. She is known as “The Warrior Princess” for overcoming a life-threatening and near career-ending episode of blood clots from the hazardous combination of flying with a broken leg. The clots caused a pulmonary embolism which triggered a series of heart attacks. This Dumfries, Virginia, native required an off-field recuperation of six months to rebound. Ironically, the German word “krieger” is the equivalent of “warrior” in English. How justly she serves her last name.
Closer to home, midfielder Lauren Holiday originates from Indianapolis. At age 3, she required life-saving open-heart surgery that would have grounded the soccer dreams of most children. She remained true to her passion despite a challenging start during childhood.
Forward Sydney Leroux departed at the young age of 14 from her home turf of British Columbia to the distant deserts of Arizona. She left behind both her beloved mother and native country to pursue a dream of professional soccer early in her life.
Shannon Boxx was raised by a single mother who juggled multiple jobs to support her children. The family’s hometown of Redondo Beach, California, known as an athletic haven, became a sports sanctuary for Boxx and her siblings who focused on team sports to stay busy while their mother was away. This collective determination produced more than one Boxx champion. Sister Gillian Boxx was a gold-medal winner for the 2012 U.S. women’s Olympic softball team.
Last but not least, goalie Hope Solo won the coveted “Golden Glove” trophy during this championship series for her astounding goal-saving blocks, and “Superwoman” efforts to limit opponents’ points. After two charges of domestic violence in 2014, one involving a family member, and another incident with her husband, the California native reached a pinnacle in her career with the championship win. Solo overcame legal entanglements that critics cited as “a distraction” to the team. Critics clamored for her dismissal. Thankfully for the millions of newly christened soccer fans and her team, she persevered.
This group of athletically gifted women deserves its sudden stardom, publicity and also a New York City ticker-tape parade, if Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer is victorious in her petition to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The “Canyon of Champions,” a famous section of Broadway, which hosts championship-commemorating events, has never honored a winning women’s sports team in the route’s long legacy of honoring the superstars of sports. Brewer cites the possibility of hosting this event as “an opportunity for New York to recognize that heroes and role models come in all genders.”
Considering 25.4 million American fans watched Sunday’s U.S. versus Japan rematch, which is the most ever American-watched soccer event, Brewer seems rightly justified in her request. Now if the paltry pay these talented women receive in comparison to their male counterparts could be rectified, the sport would gain monumental credibility for any young girl pursuing the dream of professional soccer star status.
The salaries for the women’s national soccer team can range between $6,000 and $30,000 annually, with many members living below the poverty line. Considering the 2014 German men’s soccer team received a bonus of $35 million, and the U.S. women’s championship team is expected to be only awarded an embarrassing $2 million, the disparity between the genders for their equal on-field efforts is disheartening. This recent U.S. soccer championship deserves a rightful examination of the long-ignored bias of second-class citizenship for women’s sports, both in America and worldwide.