How Briana Scurry Made Women’s Soccer History

Growing up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Briana Scurry loved sports. The youngest child of nine, she tried just about every sport there was and eventually decided to stick with basketball. However, that all changed when her family moved to Dayton, Minnesota, a predominantly white suburban area in Minneapolis, where she first encountered racial discrimination.

In the midst of prejudice, Scurry found her purpose.

One day in class, a teacher handed out flyers for a local soccer league. Soccer was the only sport she hadn’t tried. However, the idea of an African American kid playing suburban soccer was too preposterous to imagine or consider. Despite this, at the age of 12, Scurry played on her first soccer team, a boys’ team, because there were no girls’ soccer leagues. Not only did she break the racial barrier in the game of soccer, but also the gender barrier.

“I never got singled out,” Scurry later told Sports Illustrated.  “My parents never let me think I was alone in anything. They taught me that I could do whatever I wanted to do, and the odds against that didn’t matter.”

Scurry polished her game at the University of Massachusetts under Coach Jim Rudy. In fact, it was her collegiate experience that gave her the courage to play on the national team. After college, Scurry joined the U.S. Women’s National Team allowing no goals in her first game against Portugal. Unsurprisingly, she immediately became the team’s number one keeper.

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Scurry’s list of achievements is long, from holding two Olympic gold medals to becoming the 11th USWNT player and the first keeper to appear in 173 international games, with 73 as one of the first African American professional female soccer players. However, her greatest achievement is helping diversify the game of soccer.

As one of the first African American female soccer players, Scurry has championed diversity and equality throughout her career. Additionally, she defined what it means to be an exceptional team player. Scurry’s resilience to overcome race and gender issues for the development of women’s soccer provides insight into her personal strengths and self-motivation. Scurry changed the way young black children view soccer and changed the game forever.

Featured Image via @BriScurry on Instagram


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