By Victoria Zambello
Laces tied tight. Hair thrown into ponytails. Pre-game music at full blast.
The soccer girls of Burlington High School went through their normal soccer routine on a windy and chilled October night game under the lights.
But this was not their average soccer game. After conducting multiple interviews with media reporters from Boston to Vermont senior captain Maggie Barlow held a large smile across her face during warm-ups. By the time the game was over, she and her team showed up on CNN, The New York Post, CBS News, Glamour and Fox news among other outlets.
“We were inspired by the U.S Women’s National Team, specifically Megan Rapinoe to helping to lead the fight for equal pay for equal pay,” said Barlow.
“It also goes to show if one team starts with such a big heart and such a big passion to make something spread, it gets global,” said Payton Carson, junior BHS soccer player.
The #EqualPay jerseys sold both online and at the game itself cost $25, but this time men were invited to pay an additional 16 percent to symbolize the current gender wage gap.
“It’s really empowering that the boys team decided to also join us because I think it’s one thing to start a movement with gender equality. But to get the boys team to be there beside you is such a step,” said Senior Captain Helen Worden.
“Women in Vermont make 84 cents to every dollar men make, translating into a 16 cent wage gap,” noted a press statement from the Burlington School District. All proceeds from the sales will be toward the Greater Burlington Girls Soccer League. Specifically, the #EqualPay jerseys will provide scholarships and equipment donations for girls within the community.
“The wage gap has lasting impacts. Women in VT draw half the social security benefits that men do,” according to the Burlington School District press statement.
After working closely with the Burlington girls soccer team, Jessica Nordhause, Director of Strategy and Partnerships for Change The Story, an initiative to improve the economic status of women in Vermont, said that the group’s effort is incredible. “Their ingenuity and energy is inspiring. That’s how we are going to change the story around inequity for women,” Nordhaus said.
With three minutes left in the game, senior captain Helen Worden, along with three other teammates, shot, scored, and pulled her soccer shirt up to reveal her #EqualPay jersey underneath.
Just like the fans at the Women’s National game back in July, the crowd cheered “Equal Pay! Equal Pay!”; however those players received yellow cards for excessive celebration.
Maia Vota, Senior Team Captain year and BHS player wrote over text message that the school administration “has responded really well.”
“We have had to turn our assistant principal’s office into a recording studio for interviews a few times now,” said Vota.
We even had the chance to give Senator Leahy a jersey. It’s validating to know that such a large number of people are behind us. All of the players can’t stop talking about the community’s response at school!”
As the BHS girls watch their role models to support them, Voita explains how it feels to have college classes talk about them. “It feels surreal! We’ve had a couple of graduates who played on our soccer team reach out and tell us that they talked about it in their college classes,” said Vota.
The Burlington High School #EqualPay protest has continued to be covered and supported nationally, but it does not end at the Oct. 18 night game.
“I think that everyone should get the jerseys like all sports. Because it represents that we are saying the same thing not just for soccer but for every woman,” Carson said.