Reflecting a bit on the track trials, and Kristie Mewis made the team! Kristie Mewis made the team!
The IX: Soccer Mondays with Annie M. Peterson for June 28, 2021
Editor’s Note: I know, I said no newsletters again until July 5. Annie was supposed to have today off but wrote anyway. This is how we work, and starting again on July 5, what you’ll get six days a week, across six different sports.
Join us, support the kind of women’s sports journalists who CANNOT WAIT to tell you about what matters in their sport, with curated links and interviews with newsmakers.
Before I get into a bit about the Olympic soccer team, I just wanted to veer off a bit into track and and field. Because we’re all about women and sports here at The IX, and there’s some women in track that are worth watching.
I helped out with coverage of the Olympic trials in Eugene, albeit from afar. Two of my great AP colleagues who are track specialists were on-site. I did the unglamorous (but essential!) stuff like grabbing quotes off of endless Zoom feeds, and writing short broadcast-style stories after each race, so that the top three finishers — named to the Olympic team — were noted by The AP.
It was kind of relentless work because the races came in quick succession. But afterward, I took a moment to reflect on what I’d seen. And what I saw — perhaps the overriding theme — was strong Black women taking a stand.
First, Allyson Felix. At 35, she’s a mom and and the owner of her own brand, Saysh, which she introduced during the trials with a stirring ad “Know Your Place” that shows her Cesarean scar along with her many Olympic medals. Please watch, it’s amazing. Felix famously wrote a New York Times op-ed two years ago about how her former sponsor, Nike, wanted to cut her pay after her pregnancy. You can read it here. Felix’s stand forced Nike into adopting a maternity policy for its athletes.
“Athletes are told to shut up and play. We are told that no one cares about our politics. We are told that we’re just entertainers, so run fast, jump high, and throw far. And don’t mess up. But pregnancy is not messing up; for women it can and should be able to be part of a thriving professional athletic career, as my teammates have shown and I hope to show too. And I dream of a day when we don’t have to fight in order to try.”
Yahoo Sports did a nice story on how Felix, a five-time Olympian, has found her voice.
Second, there was hammer thrower Gwen Berry, who turned away when the national anthem was played during her moment on the podium — she won bronze in the event and is headed to her second Olympics.
The backstory is interesting: The anthem was played once a day at the trials. On Saturday, it got played while Berry was on the podium, a moment that should have been dedicated only to the athletes who won the event.
Afterward, she said she thought it was on purpose: Berry is known for her activism. “I feel like it was a setup, and they did it on purpose,” she said. “I was pissed, to be honest.”
Berry had a hand on her hip and turned toward the stands — not the flag — during the anthem, eventually covering her head with a T-Shirt reading “Activist Athlete.”
Y’all can read about Berry’s stand in the AP piece written by my colleague Eddie Pells.
“My purpose and my mission is bigger than sports. I’m here to represent those … who died due to systemic racism. That’s the important part. That’s why I’m going. That’s why I’m here today.” — Gwen Berry.
And finally, there was 21-year-old Sha’Carri Richardson, with her blazing orange hair, false eyelashes and dragon tattoo, who won the 100 meters then ran into the stands to hug her grandmother. Afterward she told the TV audience: “I want the world to know I’m that girl.”
Richardson credited her girlfriend with choosing her “look” for the event.
We’re not worthy.
Now on to soccer: Vlatko Andonovski named his Olympic roster last week and it was largely unsurprising.
As I expected, Carli Lloyd made the team even though she’s really old (I always have to laugh). Adrianna Franch is the backup goalkeeper. And Kristie Mewis!
Yes, this is a disappointment for Midge Purce, as well as for Lynn Williams, two players who are playing well and deserved a shot. Andonovski has praised versatility, which is practically Purce’s middle name.
But he said there was so much more that went into his decision.
“There’s so many boxes and the players need to check in order to make the roster, starting from health and fitness, and very important, performance. They’ve got to perform. It doesn’t matter if they’re versatile and if they don’t perform well. So there’s a certain, they’ve level of performance that they need to to have, or a certain way they need to execute the task. And then obviously the experience that they have, they’ve already been on this team in big tournaments.”
And the fact remains that he was hampered by the roster size.
The only player to make the team who wasn’t on the World Cup squad was Kristie Mewis. You can see what she said below. Mewis has worked hard, and waiting a long time for this moment. I’m excited to see what she does on the big stage. Oh, and it sets up a wonderful storyline with sisters on the OLY roster.
Also, Catarina Macario didn’t make the 18. She might not quite be ready for this next step, but this will be a valuable experience: The Olympic alternates are different than World Cup alternates, so they’re traveling with the team. From U.S. Soccer: Unlike the World Cup, when the roster is frozen once the first match is played, during the Olympics teams can make a roster change due to an injury at any time leading up to and during the tournament.
Still, it’s sad — and that’s probably not a strong enough word — for players that didn’t make it.
Ashlyn Harris posted a sweet photo of her family in Instagram with the caption: “To say I’m not disappointed would be a massive understatement. The last several months have been extremely difficult but I’ve met it with hard work, grace and finding joy off the field. I might not be going to Tokyo, but I promise I won gold on February 12th when my daughter was born. Sloane has brought me and my wife so much joy, it’s hard to be sad on days like these. Walking in from training and seeing the smile on her face makes me realize, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I want to wish the team and staff nothing but the best.”
(Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. ESPECIALLY NOW, as newsrooms are forced to make difficult choices. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! firstname.lastname@example.org.
Love when two of my favorite people, Meg Linehan and Chantel Jennings, team up. Here they are talking rosters for The Athletic.
Oh and of course Linehan wrote about the Mewis beer. Cheers.
Samantha Lewis wrote about how the 2023 World Cup is boosting the women’s game in Oceania.
South Africa had to cancel its trip to play Netherlands because of positive coronavirus tests.
Jonathan Tannenwald, friend of the IX, wrote a handy guide to Carli at the Olympics for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Arsenal women hire Jonas Eidevall as the team’s manager, from Suzanne Wrack.
Goal.com did this really handy guide on the rosters for every Olympic team, from Amee Ruszkai.
The Snacks Podcast from Just Women’s Sports talks to Tierna Davidson.
The Telegraph’s story on the dominance of the U.S. women, calling team GB “undercooked.” Ouch.
Interesting story on Her Game Too, battling misogyny and sexism in soccer.
Newsday is writing about Gotham. Progress. Clicks, please!
Annie Costabile catches us up on the Chicago Red Stars for the Sun-Times.
The Women’s Game talks to Haley Raso about her brother’s battle with heart issues.
Corey Roepken takes a look at Kristie Mewis and her selection to the Olympic team, for the Houston Chronicle.
And last, but not least, please read this story in All for XI by lawson_sv on the toxic positivity of women’s soccer. This is a really thought-provoking piece that made me look critically at my own work. Do I treat women’s sports differently than I treat college football? It’s really worth exploring. Well done.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Okay, actually Tweet of the day.
Five at The IX: Kristie Mewis
Kristie spoke to the media last week after the roster was announced. Here’s a bit of what she said:
Question: Can you just start us off by just talking about this weekend? It’s going to be your last chance before you go to Japan, and just the excitement about that.
Mewis: Yeah, it’s been overwhelming for sure, but it’s been just like obviously incredible. It almost hasn’t really been sunk in yet that I’m going to the Olympics. It feels weird still just saying it. But this week has been — I mean, I’ll probably just never forget this week, because this is just one of the most exciting things that will ever happen in my career. It’s obviously sad because I feel like it just stinks because, I obviously don’t want to leave the girls here. I don’t want to leave the team. I want to do the whole season with them. So I am going to miss a good chunk of games. But I mean, I’m going to be living my dream, going to the Olympics. And I know that the girls will just take care of business here while I’m gone. So I’ll obviously be really excited to get back and join again with them, but I’m obviously going to miss them so much.
Question: We’ve heard much of the story by now, you were tired of being average and that kind of began your ascent back to where you are now. What was the time period that was toughest for you and kind of helped you realize that something needed to happen?
Mewis: I think one of the moments that I kind of realized that — I almost like didn’t feel important, because especially that time when I was kind of bouncing around teams, I went to D.C., I got traded from D.C. to Chicago and then Chicago to Houston. And I just kind of felt like I wanted to be wanted, like I wanted to be valued. Not so much for other people, but I almost didn’t feel it for myself, either. So I was just kind of like, how did I get to this point where no one really wants to hold on to me. I didn’t feel valuable anymore. Obviously it was a big deal that other teams didn’t want me and stuff but I was like ‘Kristie, how did you get to this point? Uou used to be on the national team, You used to be so valued. So I think that kind of really hit home for me that I wasn’t in a place that I wanted to be. And I don’t think other people really cared or valued me anymore and were kind of writing me off. So I think that kind of triggered something inside of me to just kind of like revamp myself a little bit and follow my dreams.
Question: And when you felt that way, how far away did this current moment feel like it was to you, like getting back onto the Olympic roster?
Mewis: I think I’ve been a realist in the situation, because I do know that I got cut for a reason from the national team. I do know that for so many years I was nowhere near good enough to even be considered to be called back in. So I think that it did feel really, really far away. But I never felt like I couldn’t do it. I knew that I had it inside of me. But I think it was just one of those things that I kind of had to realize it for myself, that I still wanted all of these things and I still wanted to be on the national team. I still wanted to go to a major tournament. I still wanted to just be the best player I could possibly be. And I think I was just ignoring that for a while.
Question: How did the whole beer thing come up with Sam and what’s the significance of that to you?
Mewis: I mean, it’s super special. Sam and I have been talking about it for years now, how we’d love to maybe get into the beer industry. Just because we think it’s just such — I mean, for my family and I it’s just so nice. We’re not we’re not together that often. So when we are, we like to just, like, sit outside and have a beer together or like go to a new brewery and have a beer together. And Sam and I have always been talking about how we could brew up something ourselves. It’s just something that we’ve been working on for a while. And I think it’s just really, really exciting, Sam and I can’t stop talking about it, we can’t stop smiling about it. It’s just really exciting for us to kind of do this special thing with Harpoon, a Boston-based brewery, and just kind of come out with our own beer. It’s something that we’ve been dreaming about for a while.
Question: From a dash perspective, could you just speak a little bit on how the club and the coaching staff here kind of contributed to your development?
Mewis: I think when I came to the Dash, it was the first club and organization in a while that actually did believe in me because I did feel very valued when I came here and I felt like they wanted to invest in me and they saw me being a success here. When I first came here, I immediately felt a sense of home. The club and the players and the staff were just so welcoming. I really did feel at peace here. So I think that was a huge kind of indicator that I belonged here. I’ve obviously been here since then, I’m obviously back for a reason. It’s just such a good feeling and a sense of home here.
Question: You guys are the first set of siblings to get to play in a major tournament with the US. How special is that for you and Sam?
Mewis: (Laughs) It’s so crazy and just surreal still. Again, I just don’t feel like it’s really set in yet. But I’ve been playing with Sam my whole life, so it does feel super special. We’ve literally been playing out in the backyard since I was 5-years old. So it is going to be super special, I think in 10, 20, 30 years we’re going to look back on this and be like, ‘What did we do? Oh my God that was so incredible.’ So it’s super special just because I do feel like a sibling connection is obviously different, just being able to have my sister at camp and go through an experience like this with her, I mean, I can’t believe it’s happening.