An ‘unbelievable feeling’: Multicultural soccer player signs pro contract

By Sunnie R. Clahchischiligi
Particular to the Instances


Madison Hammond has needed to be taught to let go all through her younger life.

Rising up in a army household, she’s needed to bid pals, houses and household farewell. However she by no means mentioned goodbye to soccer.

“It was all the time soccer,” Hammond mentioned. “Soccer was all the time the fixed. I used to be all the time leaving different issues for soccer.”

Madison Hammond, 22, signed a contract to play for the OL Reign for the 2020 Nationwide Ladies’s Soccer League Problem Cup. The Diné, San Felipe and African American professional athlete discovered to play soccer whereas dwelling close to her San Felipe household throughout her adolescent years.

Gymnastics, basketball – none measured as much as soccer. The deep-rooted relationship Hammond, who’s Navajo, San Felipe and African American, had with soccer blossomed into a chance of a lifetime as she signed knowledgeable contract final month to play for the OL Reign, a part of the Nationwide Ladies’s Soccer League.

Shortly after a pre-season tryout earlier this 12 months, the season was placed on maintain and Hammond, 22, was despatched dwelling as a result of international pandemic.

She later bought a name to affix OL Reign for the 2020 Nationwide Ladies’s Soccer League Problem Cup and was supplied a contract.

Hammond, a defender on the staff, mentioned it was sudden, particularly due to how the pandemic left many issues unsure, however she was additionally extraordinarily grateful.

“I’ve been actually lucky, and I’ve simply been making an attempt to benefit from the course of and simply get higher,” she mentioned. “I’m actually excited to be right here, and signing that contract was an unbelievable feeling.”

The OL Reign misplaced their first match within the Problem Cup to Houston Sprint, 2-Zero, on Saturday and performed match host Utah Royals FC on Wednesday. They’re seeded No. eight within the league standings.

Hammond was born in Phoenix however spent a few of her adolescent years in Albuquerque close to her San Felipe household. It was the place she discovered to play soccer. She performed on a start-up staff and progressed to the following stage because the years glided by.

At about six years outdated, her mom, Carol Lincoln, remembers how her daughter confirmed soccer potential. Lincoln is a sister to former skilled golfer and golf commentator Notah Begay III.

“He informed me, ‘She’s going to be actually good,” Lincoln mentioned.

Hammond ended up on a boys’ staff and discovered to play powerful. It gave her a way of confidence.

Lincoln mentioned these early years set her daughter up for the kind of participant she would change into.

“I believe the one factor that Madison has all the time had is a whole lot of confidence on the sphere,” she mentioned. “I believe that stems from being in conditions the place she’s needed to suppose her method by it, and her athletic capability to get her by it.”

As soon as she reached center faculty and highschool, Hammond moved to Virginia along with her mom. There she was a standout soccer participant all through her 4 years.

Hammond began getting seems from schools her freshman 12 months but it surely was nothing she paid a lot consideration to till she realized school soccer is likely to be an actual choice.

“I used to be 14 on the time and also you don’t actually take into consideration soccer as one thing that may fully take you to new ranges,” Hammond mentioned. “In that second I assumed this actually might flip into one thing that’d be actually defining.”

Hammond mentioned her mom performed a job in making her desires to play school soccer come true. As a single mother or father, she took her to additional exercise and coaching classes.

After one 12 months of highschool, the effort and time bought the eye of Wake Forest College. After a go to, Hammond felt at dwelling.

“I fell in love with the campus immediately, made a reference to the coach,” she mentioned. “I waited a 12 months and signed my nationwide letter of intent to formally decide to Wake Forest.”

At Wake, Hammond was a four-year starter. However whereas she thrived on the sphere, she confronted powerful experiences and self-reflection as a multicultural athlete.

“I had by no means skilled going to a predominately white faculty the place folks don’t perceive what it meant to be black or Native,” she mentioned. “It was actually necessary to me as a result of I discovered to have the ability to discuss it extra. In the long run I really feel that I’m snug about it.”

Hammond studied English and Spanish at Wake Forest and graduated a semester early, final December.

Hammond determined to provide the professionals a shot and tried out for OL Reign however when tryouts had been lower brief, she was despatched dwelling.

She was one of some who bought a name from the staff for tryouts and attended camp in Montana.

In her brief time on the staff, Hammond mentioned she’s already discovered extra.

“The previous six weeks have simply been a complete studying curve,” she mentioned. “There are veterans who’ve performed in world cups, have performed in different international locations.”

Lincoln mentioned her daughter put within the work to earn her contract. She mentioned she watched her undergo ups and downs as she labored to get the chance.

Hammond has misplaced tooth and labored to make the Olympic improvement program – six tries.

“She’s type of battled,” Lincoln mentioned. “Nothing all through her complete profession has ever come straightforward to her.”

For the primary time in 4 years and as a newly signed participant, Hammond has not began a sport. She mentioned she nonetheless has a lot to be taught.

“It hasn’t been out of a adverse perspective,’ Hammond mentioned. “I really feel extra impressed and I’ve extra fireplace to indicate what I can do.”

She’s excited about methods to construct her platform as a consultant of the Native American and African American communities. She mentioned she hopes to encourage others.

“Not a whole lot of Native children get to pursue my dream,” she mentioned. “For lots of people of coloration on this nation they don’t get to attempt for his or her dream.

“To see somebody who seems like them but additionally somebody who can sympathize with their experiences,” she mentioned. “I hope to have a voice that’s large enough to encourage, to affect some type of actual change.”

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