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Not One Of The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Players Is Latina, Here’s Why

On July 7, the U.S. Women’s National Team went up against the Netherlands Women’s National Team for the FIFA Women’s World Cup and USWNT took home the championship cup. During the team’s victory speech in New York, U.S. women’s soccer star and forward, Megan Rapinoe, said, “We got white girls, black girls, and everything in between.”

However, Rapinoe should have thought twice before making that statement. After all, what exactly did she mean by “everything in between” if the U.S. Women’s National Team didn’t feature a single Latina woman on its roster this year?

Rapinoe’s comments recently inspired a Los Angeles Times story about an L.A. girls soccer club trying to make the face of women’s soccer.

Columnist Bill Plaschke spoke to young soccer players from the Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club, whose team is mostly made up of Latina athletes “facing economic and cultural battles that have long kept them on the soccer sidelines.” The Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club is made up of 175 girls trying to change the face of women’s soccer that has historically been dominated by white women. 

“That’s why …. I like watching [the U.S. Women’s national team] and everything, but I still say my idol is Lionel Messi,” said 15-year-old-striker Nayelli Barahona

This critique of the U.S. Women’s National Football Team is not new. When they also held the title for world champions in 2017, NPR’s Latino USA published an article “Why Is Women’s Soccer so White?” 

Audio producer and journalist Michael Simon Johnson writes, “The United States women’s national soccer team is far from a beacon of diversity, especially when compared to their male counterparts. With few women of color––and no Latinas––the team is extremely white, in spite of soccer’s entrenched place in Latin American culture.” 

However, the issue isn’t that young girls of color aren’t interested in playing the sport. 

But rather, as NPR notes, “youth soccer’s play-to-play system favors not necessarily the most talented children, but the children of parents who can afford elite clubs’ steep fees.” Club soccer fees run from $2,000 to $5,000 annually, per the Los Angeles Times.

That’s where Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club comes in. Their club president Mick Muhlfriedel helps run the all-volunteer operation out of a middle school field in Pico-Union. According to Mulhfriedel, “some of the girls contribute $25 a month. Most pay nothing.” 

Since the 1991 World Cup, there have been 12 women of color on the U.S. World Cup or Olympic teams.

According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, 14-year-old girls drop out sports at twice the rate of boys. 

“Add in the lack of diverse role models and access, transportation issues and the cost, the number of obstacles facing girls of color in the game of soccer becomes poignantly evident. Although progress has been slow, there has been progress. It would be remiss to not acknowledge some of the black players who are trailblazing on the field,” writes Stephanie Taylor of Girls Soccer Network.

In September 2018, Hope Solo also penned an opinion piece that focused on what’s wrong when the U.S. women’s soccer teams are dominated by “white girls next door.”

She writes that race was something most people on the teams she played didn’t want to discuss or even acknowledge. 

“Over most of my 20-year career, I hadn’t realized how uncomfortable some teammates were around certain coaches or officials. Most players wanted to represent the US, to be at the Olympics or the World Cup, and they’re proud to be on the team. So they kept quiet. But those conversations with teammates who felt things were off, means race is an issue we need to discuss a whole lot more,” Solo writes. “The numbers are very clear. We need more men and women of color to represent US national teams. So few players of color representing the USWNT means there are great athletes across the country we are ignoring.” 

The Los Angeles Times also cites that according to NCAA reports from 2017-2018, only 8% of female soccer players were Latino women. This is why it’s so important to not only advocate for young Latina athletes but also help mobilize the conversations further surrounding not only gender parity’s in professional sports but also race. 

In the last two years, the Downtown Los Angeles Soccer Club has won three of their eight major tournaments and made it to the finals three other times. This fall, the Los Angeles Times writes that they’ll compete in the prestigious Premier division of the Coast Soccer League and compete in the California Regional League. 

The young Latina soccer players from the Down Los Angeles Soccer Club seem to be resilient soccer players passionate and determined.

More importantly, they seem resolute in their efforts to change the face of future World Cup and soccer matches that take place on a national stage.

Here’s to hoping we see some of these young talented players giving that victory speech or holding the cup in the future. 

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She Moved Up The Ranks From Janitor To Nurse Practitioner, Now She’s Viral

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She Moved Up The Ranks From Janitor To Nurse Practitioner, Now She’s Viral

Talk about a dream fulfilled.

For ten years, Jaines Andrades harbored her desire to move up from her custodial position at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts to nurse. Now, ten years later, as an RN she’s excelled well past her drams.

Andrades worked her way through nursing school while working at Baystate Medical in Springfield, Massachusetts, as a janitor.

Ten years ago, Andrades accepted a position as a custodial staff member at Baystate Medical Center with big dreams of being a nurse. Born to Puerto Rican parents Andrades moved from her family home in Springfield, MA in 2005 when she was 14 years old. From there she and enrolled as a student at Putnam Technical-Vocational Academy with hopes of moving up the ranks as a nurse.

“As I got older and approached graduation I just didn’t see how a little girl like me could ever become a lawyer. I didn’t see it as something that was possible for me, so I got discouraged from the idea,” Andrades explained according to Masslive.com.

That all changed after she struck up a conversation with a nurse during a doctor’s visit for her mother. According to Andrades, the nurse tipped her off on the benefits of nursing. “He told me about the program to become a nurse, and, the more he talked, I just thought, ‘Yeah, I can do this.’ It’s a respectable profession, and I could provide for myself financially, so the idea grew from there.”

Soon after she enrolled at Holyoke Community College, ticked off all of her pre-requisites and a handful of introductory nursing classes. Then, in 2010, she transferred to Elms College.

The same year she transferred, Andrades applied for a job in Baystate’s Environmental Services Department and became a custodian at the hospital.

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“It’s tough to be the person that cleans. If I had to go back and do it again, I would. It’s so worth it,” Andrades explained in an interview with WBZ-TV.

In a Facebook post, Andrades wrote about her journey from hospital custodian to nurse practitioner and posted a picture of all three of her IDs.

Andrades’ story went viral after she shared her experience to Facebook.

Speaking about her journey from custodian to nurse practitioner, Andrades shared a picture of all three of her IDs.

“Even if it was cleaning, as long as I was near patient care I’d be able to observe things. I thought it was a good idea,” the RN explained in her interview before sharing that her favorite part of being a nurse has been her ability to provide patients with comfort. “I just really love the intimacy with people.”

“Nurses and providers, we get the credit more often but people in environmental and phlebotomy and dietary all of them have such a huge role. I couldn’t do my job without them,” she went onto explain. “I’m so appreciative and like in awe that my story can inspire people,” Andrades told WBZ-TV. “I’m so glad. If I can inspire anyone, that in itself made the journey worth it.”

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Nike Partners With Crisis Text Line To Expand The Conversation Of Mental Health And Athletics

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Nike Partners With Crisis Text Line To Expand The Conversation Of Mental Health And Athletics

Mental health and wellness is crucial in everyday life, whether you are an athlete or not. It is even more crucial to have someone to talk to when you are feeling those lows. Nike and their athletes have partnered with Crisis Text Line to help expand access to critical mental health and wellness resources.

Nike and Crisis Text Line want to help athletes access mental health and wellness resources.

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According to Athletes for Hope, an estimated 46.6 million people in the U.S. are living with a mental health condition. That is roughly 1 in every 5 adults who will face a mental health challenge in their lifetime. There are a lot of ways that people manage their symptoms, including physical activity, but that doesn’t mean that athletes are immune to mental health struggles.

Thirty-three percent of young adults including college athletes face mental health crises. However, among college athletes, the study states that about 10 percent seek help. Meanwhile 35 percent of professional athletes face a mental health crisis.

Nike and their athletes want to change the conversation around mental health and wellness.

“Nike’s really committed to helping all athletes whether they’re elite athletes or everyday athletes,” Vanessa Garcia-Brito, the vice president of North America Communications, says. “Not everyone is comfortable talking about that and not everyone knows how to get support. Not everyone has access to it either. Nike’s really hoping to change that.”

That is why Nike teamed up with Crisis Text Line and included their athletes into the conversation. Not only does Nike want people to have access to the necessary resources, the athletics company hopes to combat the stigma around people seeking mental health help.

Laurie Hernandez is one of the athletes working with Nike to destigmatize talking about mental health.

Garcia-Brito is enthusiastic about the partnership and what Hernandez, Hayden Hurst, and Scout Bassett offer in bring involved. The athletes are using their own mental health crises to relate to people seeking help.

Hernandez understands struggling with mental health and wellness as a young athlete. The world watched Hernandez as she competed in gymnastics representing the U.S. at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“Especially reaching the Olympics at such a young age and hitting 16 and all of those changes that happened after that,” Hernandes recalls. “Mental health was a really big topic.”

The athletes are sharing their own experiences to encourage others to seek help.

“You have to take care of yourself first and foremost,” Paralympic athlete Scout Bassett says. “If you don’t you’re not going to be able to be not just the best version of yourself but you’re not going to be able to help out somebody else if you yourself are not well.”

Garcia-Brito is inspired by the athlete’s willingness to come forward and share their stories. Garcia-Brito says that the athletes being so open about their own struggles is creating a space for Nike employees and others to have honest conversations about their mental health issues.

“We know there is no off-season for mental health and it isn’t just about being ready for those moment son urgent need It’s also about cultivating a healthy mind and body for everyday life,” Garcia-Brito says. “We’re always looking for new ways in which we can serve our athletes physically and mentally.

Nike is here to help people access the mental health they need.

“So we are thrilled to partner with Nike to advance the conversation about mental health and expand the support that is available,” Chief Transformation Officer Dr. Shairi Turner says.

If you need some help finding resources, you can text “STRONG” to 741-741.

READ: Olympian Laurie Hernandez Is Back And Just Gave A Powerful “Hamilton” Inspired Performance

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