Credit: Javier Fernández Dussaq. The Houston Elementary School Girls team stood alongside U.S. Women’s National Team players as they sang the national anthem.
On September 6, soccer fans tuning in to watch the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) take on Nigeria at Audi Field also got a glimpse of DC SCORES poet-athletes on the turf.
Houston Elementary School girls team — who won the DC SCORES Capital City Cup earlier this year — walked out with the U.S. starting eleven and stood alongside them as they sang the national anthem.
“I can have this memory forever,” said Tahirah, a 5th-grader who held U.S. midfielder Sam Coffey’s hand as the group stepped out onto the field. For many students, including fellow 5th-grader K’layah, the opportunity to share the limelight with the global soccer superstars was especially thrilling. “My favorite thing was that I could walk out with a famous person and be on national television!” K’layah shared.
The USWNT experience was the culmination of a successful year for the Houston team, which won the 2022 Capital City Cup.
Houston’s participation in the first USWNT game to be held in the District since 2017 was the culmination of an exceptionally successful inaugural year of DC SCORES programs for the school’s team, the Houston Bulls. In addition to their Cup win, the Bulls came second in the DC SCORES East Side poetry slam and their coaches won the Newcomers prize at the 2022 SCORES Awards.
The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at Audi Field will give students a big confidence boost as they take on the new school year, said Kevin Wright, a Houston DC SCORES coach and 5th-grade teacher. “Who would have thought we would be here, with the starting lineups of the USA and Nigerian soccer teams? This is a big deal!” he commented. “DC SCORES has just been a blessing to our school community and our families, as well.”
Coach Wright’s praise for DC SCORES is echoed by another Bulls coach, 3rd-grade teacher Tracey Thomas. In addition to being a fantastic evening out for her students, watching the international match was a chance for the girls to solidify their soccer knowledge, she explained. “The kids are so excited to have this opportunity. They’ve been cheering on the team and they actually know what’s going on,” she said. “This has been a remarkable moment for us.”
The September 6 game was a notable one for the U.S. women’s team, too. After their 2-1 victory, players gathered together on the field as representatives from U.S. Soccer, and the men’s and women’s national teams, signed historic collective bargaining agreements establishing equal pay for both teams.
“The U.S. women’s national team players, who use their skill on the field to amplify their calls for justice, embody the spirit of the DC SCORES poet-athlete,” said Katrina Owens, Executive Director of DC SCORES. “Walking hand-in-hand with their idols, on their hometown field, was inspiring for our kids.”
Credit: Javier Fernández Dussaq. The walk out opportunity was secured by USWNT sponsor and DC SCORES partner Volkswagen.
Houston’s participation in the game was secured by DC SCORES partner Volkswagen USA. In 2019, Volkswagen donated their advertisement space during the Women’s World Cup to promote the nonprofit’s international network, America SCORES.
“DC SCORES is fortunate to have great partners who are committed to providing unparalleled experiences for our kids,” added Owens. “We are so grateful to Volkswagen for helping us create this opportunity that I know the Houston students will cherish for the rest of their lives.”