The Justice Coalition: How Ivy League Women’s Soccer Leads Teams in the Pursuit of Social Justice

This past year has been an immense awakening of sorts. It has called for a reform of justice and awareness to the truth of Black American history and systemic racism still present in our society today. In response, we have seen the rise of various female athlete groups continue the fight for social justice. The Black Women’s Players Collective mobilized to speak up about these issues, especially the injustices occurring within the NWSL.

The women’s soccer teams of the Ivy League felt a responsibility to mobilize as well. They’re called the Justice Coalition. 

How It Started

Margo Sneeringer, a senior on the Princeton women’s soccer team and a Justice Coalition rep, noted that they felt they needed to take ownership and set the tone as members of the Ivy League. It began with the coaches discussing how they can actively contribute more to this important conversation. Sean Driscoll, the Princeton women’s soccer head coach, said he credits much of the group’s formation and continued progress to Kia McNeill, the Brown women’s head coach and one of the few female head coaches of color. As a result, all eight Ivy League women’s soccer teams joined together to begin this activist pursuit. 

Importantly, Sneeringer notes, it’s not just about educating. It’s about providing the tools for players to continue educating themselves and understand how to navigate these conversations. The end goal is to help the players own their individual path to becoming engaged, anti-racist advocates while providing them a safe space. 

The Justice Coalition also guides the coaches who seek to understand and gain the right knowledge to bring awareness to their program. This can also increase their emotional intelligence so coaches can provide a more inclusive environment for their players. 

How It Works

The Justice Coalition mission can be summed up in 3 words: education, leadership, and action. 

It consists of all eight coaches and a few players from each team. Within the group, there are four subcommittees: Logistics and Operations, Social Media, Education, and Civic Engagement. Driscoll said they meet monthly to discuss updates and initiatives, and then the players really take charge from there. 

So what does the Justice Coalition do exactly? In 2020, the players took part in a number of events.

The 2020 Election 

The Justice Coalition successfully registered all their players to vote and sent out constant reminders to go vote. One particular stand-out moment was the Poll Hero Project, co-founded by Princeton women’s soccer sophomore and Justice Coalition rep Ella Gantman. With most poll workers typically being older, a population at risk of complications from COVID-19, the project successfully recruited over 35,000 young people to work local polling spots. Read more about the Poll Hero Project here and here.

Black History Month

The Justice Coalition released a “Hidden Gem” series, highlighting black employees at each Ivy League school who are an integral part of the campus community. Check them out on Instagram @justicecoalition_

Educational Awareness

During winter break, each team chose a piece of media highlighting social justice issues and hosted a team discussion. For example, the Princeton players watched Just Mercy, while the Brown players read Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis. They plan to have multiple installations throughout the year. Driscoll added that just last week, the Princeton women’s soccer team and women’s cross country team took part in an incredible two-day anti-racism activation experience called “A Long Talk.” Find out more here

How It’s Going 

The Justice Coalition has several future projects. An individual education initiative will have groups of players research their school’s historical policies that exclude on a racial bias, facilitating individual discovery of facts. Another upcoming initiative will highlight a female athlete alumnus of color who has had an impact on their team. Sneeringer said they also have a T-shirt fundraiser in the works (we know we want one!).

The Justice Coalition is a great example for other schools and leagues to follow. It is also yet another great example of how female athletes can use their platform to make meaningful, sustained changes to move our society forward.

Featured Image via Instagram @justicecoalition_



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