SWB Welcomes Ryan Walker-Hartshorn as Switch the Pitch Program Manager
Soccer Without Borders (SWB) is thrilled to welcome Ryan Walker-Hartshorn as the Program Manager of Switch the Pitch, a first-of-its-kind collective movement to unite the US soccer community around anti-racist education and action.
A graduate of Stanford University and former player on the Stanford Women’s Soccer Team, Ryan comes to us with extensive experience as a talented journalist, published writer, and strategic communicator. Combining these skills with a passion for representation in soccer, Ryan has already proven herself to be a valuable contributor to Switch the Pitch programming.
Combining team challenges, a virtual league, and a coach training series, Switch the Pitch was developed in collaboration with Common Goal, America Scores, and Soccer in the Streets. The innovative movement was designed to provide an interactive and experiential opportunity for coaches and youth players to take action and to make the game (and the world) more inclusive and equitable for all.
Continue reading to learn more about Ryan, what brought her to SWB, and which aspects of the role of Switch the Pitch Program Manager excite her most:
What is your “why” for working at SWB?
I used to be a player and now I want to continue positively impacting the game I’ve known my entire life. Growing up, I was one of few Black girls on my teams and that was hard. Hard not to see myself reflected on the team or in the coaching staff. So getting a chance to work on Switch the Pitch has made me excited to make an impact on the game from a different perspective.
What has been your journey in soccer so far?
I’ve played soccer my entire life – a highlight was definitely playing in college. I’ve struggled with a lot of injuries (which is never fun). I wanted to play professionally but decided not to pursue that after I ruptured my achilles tendon last December. Despite these setbacks, I’m really grateful for my time on the pitch.
What mantra speaks to you the most, and why?
Celebrate the pass more than the goal. Things are always evolving and changing – we are never done growing. It’s important to celebrate the growth behind the goal.
What about getting girls into the game is meaningful to you?
Getting girls to the game is important to me, particularly Black girls. Representation matters. Nowadays, there are so many professional Black footballers you can look up to and that’s amazing! I look forward to watching how the game continues to evolve.
What has been your favorite part of managing Switch the Pitch so far?
It’s only been about a month [since I joined Soccer Without Borders], so I’m still making memories. But right now, meeting all the folks I get to work with has been my favorite part. Especially at the Coach Foundations training that recently took place in Boston.
Additionally, It was great to be a part of my first Switch the Pitch training session with the Chicago Fire Academy! People were willing to have hard conversations and to really “go there” and get comfortable being uncomfortable. I appreciated that. It’s brave. And necessary. I look forward to continuing this work and moving toward a more inclusive culture in football.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
What I love most about football is the opportunity to connect with people from all over the globe. The shared passion for the sport is truly remarkable. I love playing pick-up games at home and abroad. These moments hold a special place in my heart as some of my most cherished memories. They're unique experiences and I’ve made friendships to last a lifetime.