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Vermont Girls' Soccer Team Protests For Equal Pay In Solidarity With USWNT


This past weekend at a soccer game in Vermont, the crowd went wild as the Seahorses scored.


CHANG: And then they shouted, equal pay, equal pay. Yes, they are still amateur players, but the Burlington High School girls' soccer team the Seahorses have been advocating for equal pay all season, including creating jerseys that got them into some trouble. We asked the three co-captains to join us earlier today to explain why they're supporting the cause and why four players were yellow-carded during this game.

MAIA VOTA: My name is Maia Vota. I'm 18, and I play midfield.

MAGGIE BARLOW: I'm Maggie Barlow. I'm 17, and I also play midfield.

HELEN WORDEN: Hi, I'm Helen Worden. I'm 17, and I play midfield.

CHANG: I want to picture this moment that happened last week. So describe it for all of us who were not there. You were playing a regular game after school. This was Friday, I think it was. And what happened?

WORDEN: So this is Helen, and I'm going to start off. So I actually got the goal in the last three minutes.

CHANG: Nice.

WORDEN: And I freaked out. Everybody freaked out.

CHANG: (Laughter).

WORDEN: And we were all just going to show our equal pay jerseys underneath our game jerseys by pulling up our game jerseys. But I took mine all the way off and was running towards the crowd.

BARLOW: Hi, this is Maggie. We ended up taking off our shirts all the way and whipping them around our heads 'cause the crowd was going crazy.

CHANG: (Laughter).


BARLOW: And that is when we got yellow-carded for excessive celebration. And actually, when he was carding us, the crowd showed their support by chanting, equal pay.

CHANG: So how did you guys first get fired up about this whole equal pay cause?

VOTA: Hi, this is Maia. A lot of the players on our team are really big fans of the U.S. women's national team. So when we saw them playing this summer at the world cup and fighting not only on the field, but off the field, specifically for equal pay in their lawsuit, we were really inspired. They had an event at City Hall Park where they received keys to the city. And Megan Rapinoe was there, and she spoke for a little while. And I remember her very clearly saying, everyone can do something; just do what you can.


MEGAN RAPINOE: It's our responsibility to make this world a better place.

WORDEN: Hi, this is Helen. I went to both semifinals games and the final game.

CHANG: Nice.

WORDEN: And when the final whistle blew in the final game and the women's team won, everybody - like, 60,000 people started cheering, equal pay. I had chills.


UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Equal pay, equal pay, equal pay.

WORDEN: And I immediately knew, like, we have to take some kind of action. We have to contribute to this movement. So - and everybody was super enthusiastic about it.

CHANG: Wow. So when, like, the crowd was chanting, equal pay, equal pay, at your game last week, did you get this weird sense of deja vu...


CHANG: ...Like you had your Megan Rapinoe moment?

WORDEN: So yeah. It was much smaller, of course, but it was still - it meant a lot to hear.

CHANG: So what's the message that you guys want to send? Going forward, what do you want to say?

BARLOW: Hi, this is Maggie. Basically, we've truly realized what people tell you your whole life - that you can make a difference. Like, we've had that realization for ourself (ph) just through this experience. So if you're hearing this, please do what Megan Rapinoe said and do what you can because, like, we did, and this is the result because it's wrong that women get paid less than men not just in sports, but in all jobs. In Vermont, women make 84 cents for every dollar a man makes. And, like, we can't wait longer for the wage gap to close. That needs to happen, like, now.

CHANG: It was so fabulous to talk to all three of you. Thank you so much for squeezing me in between your classes today.

VOTA: Yeah. Thank you so much.

WORDEN: Thank you.

BARLOW: Equal pay.

CHANG: Maia Vota, Helen Worden and Maggie Barlow are co-captains of the Seahorses. Tomorrow, they take on the Brattleboro Colonels in the season's first playoff game. The Brattleboro team has been in touch to say they, too, would like to wear something on their uniform to support equal pay.

(SOUNDBITE OF PYE CORNER AUDIO'S "DESCENT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.