During the National Women’s Soccer League’s 2020 Challenge Cup last week, Chicago Red Stars soccer player Rachel Hill was the only member of her team to stand for the national anthem. Now, she is revealing why she decided to stand while all of her teammates took a knee.
While her teammates, including players Julie Ertz and Casey Short, took a knee for Black Lives Matter, Hill stood with her head bowed and her hand on Short’s shoulder.
Rachel Hill of the Chicago Red Stars one of my new favorite athletes. pic.twitter.com/3LjRCl87RE
— DSIMPS14 (@Dsimps14) June 29, 2020
After images of the 25-year-old Hill standing went viral online, she spoke out to say her decision to stand “did not come easily or without profound thought.”
“Before the game, I was completely torn on what to do,” she explained. “I spoke with friends, family, and teammates —of all races, religions and backgrounds— with the hope of guidance.” Hill went on to say that though she supports the message of kneeling, she decided to stand for the anthem on behalf of the military members of her family. “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,” she said. “Symbolically, I tried to show this with the placement of my hand on Casey’s shoulder and bowing my head.”
“If this wasn’t clear, let my words and further actions be,” Hill continued. “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.”
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In a joint statement she released with Ertz, Short referenced a conversation she had with Hill after the game. “I, Casey, can only speak for myself but the conversations I have had with players, specifically Rachel, have been unapologetically authentic,” Short said. “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 National Women’s Soccer League also released a statement saying that while it is “proud” of its players for shining a light on social justice issues, it supports players regardless of their “personal decision” to stand or kneel during the anthem.