On Sunday, Oct. 8, the Arizona women’s soccer team hosted UCLA in one of the biggest matchups for the Wildcats this season. The Bruins came to the field as the No. 1 team in the country, and on Sunday afternoon they separated themselves from the rest of the league in a different way.
UCLA became the first collegiate team at the University of Arizona to take a knee during the National Anthem.
Six members of the team knelt during the anthem, including two members of the coaching staff. Three out of the six players are international student-athletes. Teagan Micah, goalkeeper for the Bruins, is from Redcliffe, Queensland, Australia. Kennedy Faulknor is from Ontario, Canada, along with Jessie Fleming who is also from London, Ontario, Canada. Three members of the team and one trainer placed their left hand on the person either kneeling next to them or standing in front of them. In front of the line for the Bruins stood a player with her hands linked behind her back with her chin and eyes pointed straight down to the grass. Fans in the stands had little to no reaction to the Bruins statement, and the ‘Cats all stood during the anthem.
But this wasn’t the first time for the Bruins; UCLA took a knee before playing Oregon State on Oct. 1. Following the Oregon State game, UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell was interviewed by PAC-12 Networks’ Tammy Blackburn.
“The team came together, and as a team we decided that they would kneel beforehand. The Dallas Cowboys did that in a show of unity, and I thought that was awesome, so the whole team was together on that,” Cromwell said in a Pac-12 interview.
With the NFL now in its third week of team-wide protests during the National Anthem, the number of players kneeling has continued to grow.
Before the Bruins decided to take a knee at Oregon State, kneeling during the National Anthem hadn’t branched into the NCAA. Now UCLA brings up the question, how far will it grow and across how many players or sports?
This Saturday, the Bruins travel back to Tucson but for a different kind of football. The Wildcats take on the Bruins in football this week. While the football teams have always been in the locker rooms during the National Anthem, the question is: Are football players talking about protesting in a different form, and will a team from Arizona Athletics be the next school to protest?
One thing to watch on the UA campus will be what the basketball team will do. With the season fast approaching, will fans witness players protesting during the anthem soon in McKale Center? With UA basketball having such a large fan base, the players have a chance to make a big statement for not only Arizona Athletics but college sports in general.
“It’s about supporting the cause of racial justice and equality in the world. I love that our team is socially active, politically active, and we support them across the board,” Cromwell said.
Just last year Megan Rapinoe, a member of the U.S. Women’s National soccer team, took a knee before one of the team’s games. UCLA now continues that trend in women’s soccer. This leaves soccer fans wondering how long the team will continue this and if it will spread to other soccer teams.
“We have two veterans on our staff, so it’s not about the military, of course. We love the military. It's just an honor to coach this team and have these conversations because they’re really important to have," Cromwell said.
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