Burlington Girls Soccer community reflects after USWNT settlement

Seahorses made waves in 2019 with #EqualPay shirts
Seahorses made waves in 2019 with #EqualPay shirts
Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 12:09 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Earlier this week, US Soccer and the Women’s National Team announced a settlement in regards to the long-running dispute over claims of gender discrimination. The sports’ governing body will pay the players a lump sum of $22 million with $2 million more to create a fund for players after their retirement along with charitable efforts to grow the women’s game.

In our area, fans might remember a high school team that voiced their thoughts a few years ago during the “Equal Pay” campaign, and this week we caught up with them.

“This movement started when I was a freshman and it’s mainly just in support of the women’s national teams,” said BHS junior Lydia Sheeser. “So we made equal pay shirts kind of just to show that we were standing with them. We had no intention of it really going anywhere.”

But people did take notice of the Burlington girls’ soccer team’s game against South Burlington back in the Fall of 2019, one in which the players lifted their jerseys after a goal to show off a message in support of the US Womens National team’s fight for “Equal Pay”.

“As its grown, it’s just been crazy,” added fellow Burlington junior Camryn Muzzy. “Like I remember watching the documentary about the women’s team and seeing one of my close family friends that I grew up with on the screen. And I thought that was incredible to see how much Vermont and this one little high school has grown to be such a big impact on the whole country.”

“When Brandi Chastain tweeted at them calling them role models, we knew that that was the start of something really big,” said Sheeser’s mother and Director of Change the Story Vermont Jessica Nordhaus.

In the two seasons since then, BHS has continued the fight, hosting more Equal Pay games and cranking out more variations of those shirts. The campaign started in conjunction with Change the Story Vermont, an organization dedicated to improving the economic well being of women in the state.

“Change the Story was there with them, supporting them in those efforts, and their orders went from 400 jerseys to 5000 jerseys,” Nordhaus added.

“Eventually we were able to start a fund at the Vermont Women’s Fund where we have gathered over $50,000 through the sales of the t-shirts nationwide,” Sheeser said. “And that money is going towards increasing access to sports for girls in Vermont and our efforts to close the wage gap around the state.”

Alot of that money has gone directly to funding the Greater Burlington Girls Soccer League, helping young girls get involved with the sport at a young age.

“I honestly really like it and it’s very fun to do every season,” said GBGSL player Auden Wright. “I look up to doing it every Winter and every Summer.”

“Kinda like the same as Auden, I like look forward to it because it’s really fun and all the coaches are really nice,” added her teammate Nellie Holas.

“These players are role models,” Seahorse head coach Jeff Hayes said of his high school players. “A lot of the younger players that come to our games with Greater Burlington Girls Soccer League, they come, these girls are role models. They’ll come down and practice with us, train with us, see what we’re doing on and off the field.”

Now that the USWNT has claimed a victory in their fight for gender equality, the community around the Seahorse program is thrilled to have played a small part. They hope its a sign of things to come on and off the field.

“It was really exciting just to hear,” Sheeser said. “It made me proud to know that they had reached what they had been fighting for for so long.”

“Being able to grow up watching this unfold in this small town that they live in is just going to give them the confidence to use their voice to fight for what they feel like is right,” Muzzy added. “And hopefully in the future, girls in all sports and all things can hopefully just come into their jobs their sports, whatever it is with equal rights without having to fight for it.”

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