The USWNT Are The Girls Next Door Grown Up

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I read during this World Cup that the USWNT aren’t the girls next door anymore. They have shed their images in the wake of comments made by Megan Rapinoe, Ali Krieger, Alex Morgan and others.

When I read that I can’t help but think of my grandmother.

My grandmother was a baseball person. She watched the Yankees nearly every game for 50 plus years, she was the commissioner of the young leagues or on their board for 30 plus years, she kept score for the baseball team when she was in high school. She loved baseball and it’s in no small part to her why I love it too.

Watching the World Cup this year and the personalities that make up the USWNT, I can’t help but think how much she would have loved this team.

My grandmother was a business woman and a sports fan, politically active and as take no nonsense as they come. She grew up in a time when if a woman worked it was on the family farm or maybe taking in wash or sewing. They did not open a farm equipment business and spend 30 years going all around the world for Case Tractors with their husbands.

In her day women just didn’t speak out against the town plowing the churches parking lots for free or write letters to the editors of the local paper in support of LGBT rights or freedom of expression before it was more normalized.

The more Megan Rapinoe speaks and the more she stands up, or kneels, for what she thinks is right, the more I can’t help but think just how much my grandmother would have loved this team and maybe Megan Rapinoe most of all.

I think she would have looked at Rapinoe with her pink/purple hair, her outspoken nature and her ability to ball the fuck out and I think she would have smiled. She would have seen Alex Morgan sipping tea and she would have cheered her. Because women being badass and saying “fuck it, I’m going to do the damn thing” crosses generations.

One of my great frustrations with how the USWNT has been marketed is that they push the family friendly, girl next door, no controversy here narrative. They do not push how outspoken, how radical, how progressive these players are.

It really feels like after a lot of years of letting the bland, vanilla narrative crafted for them to live, the team has collectively said “fuck it, we’re going to be as powerful and smart and queer and radical and whatever else we want to be and if you don’t like it that’s not on us that’s on you”. And it’s wonderful.

My grandmother will have been gone for 12 years this September. But watching this team, seeing them do what they have done and speak out like they have, it makes me think of her and smile.

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Nancy Lightbody
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Nancy Lightbody

Thank you for this. It’s perfect! Love your grandmother.

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