The return of the National Women’s Soccer League has seen players join the protests against racial injustice, and an overwhelming majority of players have chosen to kneel during the national anthem.
A powerful moment was when Chicago Red Stars players Julie Ertz and Casey Short knelt together as Ertz held Short in an emotional embrace, with another player putting her hand on Short, but was not kneeling.
Rachel Hill, a forward, took to Twitter to explain why she was not kneeling, stating that the decision “did not come easily or without profound thought.”
In the lengthy post, she stated that while she supported the protests, she had military family members, and that was why she didn’t kneel. She revealed that she had “genuine” conversations with Ertz and Short before and after the game.
She wrote: “I chose to stand because of what the flag inherently means to my military family members and me, but I 100% percent support my peers. 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. I support the black lives matter movement wholeheartedly. I also support and will do my part in fighting against the current inequality. As a white athlete, it is way past due for me to be diligently anti-racist.”
Hill maintained that she 100% supports her teammates in their protest.
Short released a statement with Ertz, stating that their conversations with Hill were authentic.
The statement read: “I, Casey, can only speak for myself but the conversations I have had with players, specifically Rachel, have been unapologetically authentic. 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.”
The NWSL has altered its national anthem policy, allowing players to stay in the locker room as the anthem plays for an empty stadium. However, Major League Soccer stated that it wouldn’t play the anthem, citing lack of fans in the stadium.