Playing for Change with the Bruins
National champion Sam Mewis knows what it means to play it forward. "Soccer has played such a huge role in my life; giving the opportunity for other girls to have an experience similar to mine is inspiring." In the spring of this year, the UCLA women’s soccer captain looked ahead to the fall season and pondered ways to leverage her team’s first national championship as a way to give back. Learning about the Soccer Without Borders Ambassador Program presented by Positive Tracks, she found her platform. On top of training for her final season as a UCLA Bruin, Sam spent the summer and fall planning a game day and youth clinic to raise funds and awareness for SWB.
Coordinating a large scale event is no small feat. Challenges of NCAA compliance and athletic department marketing protocols might have been a reason to give up, but it was immediately apparent that Sam's determination and commitment on the field was equally prevalent off. "Realizing how much I actually cared about the charity- as I explained repeatedly why we were taking part in this, I realized that I cared so much and wanted to help really badly. I learned that I have the capacity to actually go through with an event like this that started from nothing," she reflected.
The end result was nothing short of amazing. On October 5th, UCLA Women’s soccer played for change against the University of Colorado, sporting SWB shirts during warm-ups, spreading the word through PA announcements, and raising funds through t-shirt sales. But it didn't end there. After scoring the game winning goal, Mewis and her teammates remained on the field after the game to lead a free skills clinic for kids in elementary and middle school from the surrounding area. Their efforts truly embodied the spirit of the Title IX legacy: where women opened the door for the opportunity to play a Division I collegiate sport, these student-athletes paid it forward, helping girls globally gain the right and opportunity to play.
Mewis and her teammates' efforts were featured by Soccer Nation, the Boston Globe, and on Mewis' very own blog, Mew's Views. While their success on the field is impressive, SWB and Positive Tracks are so grateful and proud of the Bruin ladies for all the amazing work they are doing off the field, too. They are modeling how to truly "get active and give back" locally and globally, raising $2,800 for SWB, which will be doubled by Positive Tracks. Congratulations to Sam Mewis and the UCLA women’s soccer team and we wish you all the best in your final five games on the road!