Shannon Boxx enters the Soccer Hall of Fame as a role model

FILE - Shannon Boxx of the United States, right, is greeted by her husband Aaron Spearman and their daughter Zoe Spearman, 20 months, before a friendly <a class=soccer match Wednesday, October 21, 2015 in Seattle. The match was Boxx’s last of her career. Boxx showed that representation matters while redefining the role of a defensive midfielder for the US women’s national team. Boxx made 195 appearances with the national team, the most in team history for a black woman. She was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame and will be enshrined next Friday, May 21, 2022 in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file)” title=”FILE – Shannon Boxx of the United States, right, is greeted by her husband Aaron Spearman and their daughter Zoe Spearman, 20 months, before a friendly soccer match Wednesday, October 21, 2015 in Seattle. The match was Boxx’s last of her career. Boxx showed that representation matters while redefining the role of a defensive midfielder for the US women’s national team. Boxx made 195 appearances with the national team, the most in team history for a black woman. She was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame and will be enshrined next Friday, May 21, 2022 in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file)” loading=”lazy”/>

FILE – Shannon Boxx of the United States, right, is greeted by her husband Aaron Spearman and their daughter Zoe Spearman, 20 months, before a friendly soccer match Wednesday, October 21, 2015 in Seattle. The match was Boxx’s last of her career. Boxx showed that representation matters while redefining the role of a defensive midfielder for the US women’s national team. Boxx made 195 appearances with the national team, the most in team history for a black woman. She was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame and will be enshrined next Friday, May 21, 2022 in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, file)

AP

Shannon Boxx hailed the impact she could have on a younger generation even as she redefined the role of a defensive midfielder for the US women’s national team.

Boxx played at a time when the national team was predominantly white. At the 2015 Women’s World Cup, she was one of only three women of color to play for the United States.

She was aware of her presence on the field when a multiracial woman messaged girls like her.

“When I was on the national team, there were definitely times when I would look around and think, ‘I’m the only person of color here right now, at certain moments on the team,'” she said. “For me, it was just a big weight that I was willing to have, but I remember feeling like, OK, when we’re going to be signing autographs, I look for kids of color because I want them to know that.” they can, and maybe I’m the only one right now, but that won’t be the case in the future.”

Boxx played in 195 games for the United States, the most by a black woman in national team history. Next week she will be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, Texas, joining a class that includes former men’s national team star Clint Dempsey.

Known as Boxxy, she retired at the age of 38, shortly after the United States won the 2015 World Cup. She also won three Olympic gold medals with the national team.

She brought creativity and technical understanding to her position. She only made her national team debut at the age of 26, but made an immediate impression and was called up to the 2003 World Cup squad by then-coach April Heinrichs. She became the first American to score in each of her first three appearances with the team.

In the final years of her career, Boxx took two years off due to injuries and the birth of her daughter. She also struggled with lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome, both autoimmune diseases.

While her run with the national team has been one of perseverance, she has also faced challenges in her professional career. After a brief stint in Germany, Boxx was drafted by WUSA’s San Diego Spirit in 2001. She credits the pro league for upping their game.

She started her first season, but her playing time was cut short in the second.

“I don’t think I had really failed up to that point. I did well in high school, I did well in college,” she said. “And it was the first time I thought, ‘Wow, there’s a whole other level, if I really want to be successful, I have to do these things to get there.'”

Boxx played in the Women’s Professional Soccer League and eventually the National Women’s Soccer League.

After her retirement, Boxx settled with her family in Portland, Oregon, where she helped start an all-girls soccer academy to bring the game to underserved populations.

“The parents are just so happy that we’re coming into a community that wants to do that. They want to enable their children to do this, but they don’t have the resources to do so,” Boxx said. “I think it just makes things a lot more accessible. And realizing that pay-to-play isn’t the only way to get someone to play football.”

Boxx is revered with former teammate Christie Pearce Rampone, who was originally inducted into the Hall of Fame last year but delayed her induction until this season in response to a series of scandals in the NWSL.

Former US goaltender Hope Solo was inducted into the Hall of Fame this year but issued a statement saying she will delay her induction by a year while she faces DWI charges following her arrest in late March participate in an inpatient treatment program.

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