As the season started for the National Women’s Soccer League last weekend, Chicago Red Stars player Rachel Hill stood for the anthem, hand on her heart, while her teammates knelt and embraced.
Hill placed her other hand on her teammate Casey Short’s shoulder to show solidarity before the match against the Washington Spirit at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman, Utah, on Saturday, June 27.
Explaining her audacious action in a Twitter post on Tuesday, Hill stated that she chose to stand while opposing racial injustice at the same time—it was a decision she had struggled with, she said, but ultimately it came down to her family’s patriotism.
“When I stood for the national anthem before the Chicago Red Stars most recent game, this was a decision that did not come easily or without profound thought. Before the game, I was completely torn on what to do. I spoke with friends, family, and teammates of all races, religions, and backgrounds with the hope of guidance.”
“I chose to stand because of what the flag inherently means to my military family members and me, but I 100 percent percent support my peers,” she added. “Symbolically, I tried to show this with the placement of my hand on Casey’s shoulder and bowing my head. I struggled, but felt that these actions showed my truth, and in the end I wanted to remain true to myself. If this wasn’t clear, let my words and further actions be.”
Before and after the game, Hill had had “genuine conversations” with teammates and family to broaden her understanding of different views, she said.
Teammate Casey Short also posted a statement after their discussion to express appreciation toward Hill.
“I, Casey, can only speak for myself but the conversations I have had with players, specifically Rachel, have been unapologetically authentic,” she wrote. “I have to ask where my hope lies. It lies in my faith and those types of conversations that have been long overdue. The types of conversations that are raw and uncomfortable, that can lead to real impactful change.”
Going forward, the NWSL will allow players to wait in the locker room during the anthem if they so choose. Meanwhile, stands will remain empty as the season rolls ahead.
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