I’m not asking for much this holiday season — just a few simple things to help make the New Year bright for the WNBA. Coming off another successful season, with a continued rise in viewership and fan interaction across the board, there’s a lot to look forward to this upcoming season. But there are also some things the WNBA can and should improve upon next season.

In the spirit of the holidays, I present my 10-item WNBA wish list for 2023.

1. Throwback jerseys

Ahead of the regular season in 2021, the WNBA partnered with Nike to create a collection of new jerseys for each team in the league. The set featured three editions — Rebel, Heroine and Explorer — that were well-received by players and fans alike. But there have been no additions to the collection since then. NBA teams, on the other hand, have an average of four jerseys in their rotation, and recently, they’ve released new designs every season.

The WNBA is due for more jersey editions to stir up preseason hype among fans. How cool would throwbacks look for each team? Give me a 1997 New York Liberty design or a Las Vegas Aces/San Antonio Silver Stars retro look. Imagine how quickly they’d fly off the shelves.

2. Big free agency moves

WNBA free agency has never been more exciting. Just as the weather turns particularly cold and bleak in February, things heat up in the WNBA. While fans speculate, players take meetings with teams around the league who are desperately trying to lure them in. When the free-agency period kicks off, watching JWS analyst Rachel Galligan and others break new signings left and right only adds to the fun. This year, there are some big-name free agents in the mix, including Breanna Stewart, Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, Alysha Clark, Brionna Jones and about half of the Chicago Sky roster — Candance Parker, Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot, Emma Meesseman and Azurá Stevens.

Taurasi and Griner have both indicated they will stay in Phoenix, but other decisions are up in the air. Will the Sky keep their core together? Will Stewie return to her home state to play for the Liberty? Will the Ogwumikes stay in Los Angeles as a package deal under new Sparks head coach Curt Miller? I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

2021 WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper brought a competitive edge to the series. (Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)

3. Team rivalries

One of the many reasons the 2021 Finals series between the Chicago Sky and Phoenix Mercury was so captivating is because of the on-court and off-court action. There was trash-talking, memes, Twitter beef, chippy play, a fist-fight with a locker-room door and some amazing basketball on display. But the rivalry didn’t extend into the following regular season as many had hoped, and currently, there’s no real WNBA rivalry to get behind. Remember Los Angeles Sparks vs. Minnesota Lynx? Detroit Shock vs. Phoenix Mercury? And Los Angeles Sparks vs. New York Liberty back in the day?

The WNBA needs team rivalries. They’re good for the league and fun for fans, making for must-see-TV during regular season broadcasts and upping the competitiveness for the players.

4. All-Star Weekend planning

Let’s be honest: WNBA All-Star Weekend could be so much more organized than it is, especially for fans. While last year’s festivities in Chicago were a success in terms of fan turnout and viewership, there were also some notable missteps. Saturday’s 3-point contest and skills competition were not held at Wintrust Arena due to a scheduling conflict, and fans were unable to attend. Additionally, location and event schedules weren’t released until Friday, causing confusion for attending fans.

The WNBA would benefit from getting ahead of schedule and planning accordingly this year, well before the regular season gets underway (there is already a report that the All-Star Game will return to Las Vegas in 2023). That would allow for fans to book flights, make hotel accommodations and prepare for what should be a celebratory and memorable weekend for the league.

The 2022 WNBA All-Star Game brought a mix of fun and confusion for fans. (David Banks/USA TODAY Sports)

5. All-Star Weekend activities

While we’re on the topic of All-Star Weekend, let’s talk about adding more activities. The WNBA could get extra creative, mixing in events that are fun for both the fans and players. Giving fans a chance to watch and enjoy the skills competition is a top priority, of course. But how about expanding Saturday’s lineup? Add some one-on-one games — a Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson matchup would be prime viewing. Host a rookie versus vets game, or a rookie showcase game. Invite celebrities to come and participate. There’s a lot to explore and plenty of room for All-Star Weekend to grow.

6. Honoring the past

At times, it feels like there is a disconnect between the WNBA’s past and present, especially from the late 1990s and early 2000s. Aces owner Mark Davis set the bar this season by making it a point to honor former San Antonio Silver Stars — the Aces’ previous franchise — during Aces home games. The WNBA as a whole can follow suit and become more conscious of celebrating its lineage. That might include catching up with former players on a regular podcast or video series, acknowledging them on national broadcasts throughout the season, or featuring them in articles that explain what they are up to now. There’s a rich history with the league that is worth revisiting on a more regular basis.

7. Even more games on television

Between live broadcasts and streaming, the WNBA showcased a total of 147 regular games in 2022. Disney’s group of channels (ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC) aired 25 nationally televised games, which accounted for the league’s most-viewed season since 2008. Overall, viewership between CBS and Disney networks was the highest in the WNBA’s history with those partners. Each team in the league will play 40 games in 2023, and the WNBA has yet to release its broadcast and streaming schedule. But one thing is clear: There need to be more games on television and on channels where people can easily find them. As the fan base continues to grow, those viewership numbers will keep rising.

8. New and improved marketing

Some of you might not remember the WNBA commercials from the late ‘90s — but I do. They were so well-written and funny. For those who didn’t know who Tina Thompson, Sheryl Swoopes or Cynthia Cooper were, those TV spots put a face to players’ names. They also built momentum for the league and kept the start of the regular season on peoples’ minds. What happened to them? I don’t know, but they remind me of the league’s marketing possibilities.

Last February, the WNBA announced that it had raised $74 million in investment capital. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert pledged to use a portion of that money toward marketing efforts. The league needs to keep attracting fans in order to grow, and an overall marketing strategy helps give players opportunities, lure in would-be viewers and keep the WNBA relevant during quiet periods.

Washington Mystics guard Natasha Cloud is one of multiple WNBA stars playing for AU in 2023. (Jade Hewitt/Athletes Unlimited)

9. Offseason content

In my recent conversation with Angel McCoughtry, the WNBA veteran made it a point to talk about the league’s lack of promotion of players during the offseason. The WNBA season is short compared to those of other major sports leagues, and from October to April, there’s a recognizable lull in coverage. With more and more players opting to stay stateside rather than compete overseas during the offseason, there are plenty of stories worth telling. Players are participating in the 2023 Athletes Unlimited basketball season, juggling multiple business ventures, getting into broadcasting, connecting with their alma maters as coaches and mentors, taking on modeling and fashion gigs, etc. The WNBA (and more independent media outlets) could provide fans with updates, pulling back the curtain on players’ lives when they’re not balling.

10. BG’s emotional, mental and physical recovery

Brittney Griner was unjustly detained in Russia in early February 2022, and after 10 months was finally released on Dec. 8. I can’t even begin to imagine the emotional, mental and physical ramifications of her imprisonment, and I hope she recovers in all three aspects of her life. It was encouraging to read her statement that she intends to play in the WNBA this season with the Mercury, and to see that she dunked after picking up a basketball for the first time in almost a year. My biggest holiday wish is that BG heals fully from this experience and ultimately basks in the joy of being on the court again.

Lyndsey D’Arcangelo is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports, covering the WNBA and college basketball. She also contributes to The Athletic and is the co-author of “Hail Mary: The Rise and Fall of the National Women’s Football League.” Follow Lyndsey on Twitter @darcangel21.

Welcome to England, the birthplace of football. We don’t call it soccer — we call it footie, we call it tradition, we call it The Beautiful Game. This is the game we were born into. It runs in our lineage and our blood. This is the school playground and the housing block carpark. It’s a Sunday morning on the local playing fields and a Saturday afternoon in the mighty Premier League. This is the land where, if England are playing during term-time, TVs are wheeled into classrooms. This is education. This is what we plan our lives around. This is nostalgia. This is identity. This is conversation. This is a life-long relationship. This is our inheritance, our pride and our story.

In major competitions, though, our story for the last 56 years has been a tale of hurt and pain. At least on the international stage. Our national teams for years have failed to live up to their potential, making early exits from World Cup and European tournaments, too often conceding in the last moments of extra time or falling short in a dreaded penalty shootout, always serving the most amount of agony to any believers unfortunate enough to exercise even a glimmer of faith in their beloved Lions. The English World Cup-winning team of 1966 has become a legend of old, with the heroes who “brought football home” slowly fading away, and those still alive to tell the tale being outnumbered by a disheartened audience of pessimists.

For women’s footballers, the root of heartache has run deeper. While their male counterparts have enjoyed the opportunity to at least chase a legitimate dream of lifting a trophy in front of an 80,000-strong stadium and millions tuning in worldwide, women had been forbidden from playing organized football, a ban that was only lifted by The Football Association in 1971.

It was just four years ago that the Women’s Super League (created by the FA in 2011) became completely professional. This meant that the 2009 English women’s team — The Lionesses — that made the Euro finals (losing 6-2 to Germany) were made up of players who supported their dreams with part-time jobs. They were in classrooms and offices one day, and representing their country in a football stadium the next. This was true passion; it was also discrimination.

The Lionesses that took the field in the 2022 Euro tournament were, for the first time, a squad made up completely of professional players. The team was led by Sarina Wiegman, who took on the role as England boss last September. Her coaching style gave the players freedom to own their decisions, and she pushed her players onto the front foot and always aiming for goal. Her deep understanding of the game’s intricate detail would lead her women to a perfect record in the tournament, exiting the group stages undefeated. These weren’t small victories either, with the Lionesses desolating solid teams like Norway 8-0.

Spain came into the tournament as the favorites. Georgia Stanway’s right foot sent them home empty-handed in the 96th minute of a tense quarterfinal. The semis weren’t quite as tense, with Beth Mead, Lucy Bronze, Alessia Russo and Fran Kirby all contributing to a 4-0 dismantling of a solid Swedish team. Four goals by four different scorers — a perfect demonstration of the selflessness that carried this group of women to European football’s biggest stage. It was at this point that it dawned on English football fans around the country: Something special could finally happen again.

On the evening of the final, there was the same electricity in the London air as there always is when England are playing a big game. The UK is in the middle of a heatwave, during which rain hasn’t been seen for weeks and crowds of people have been enjoying the parks and public spaces during the light summer evenings. But on this Sunday evening, most were indoors, enjoying fellowship around TV screens in hot living rooms. Other expectant fans spilt out of pubs and onto humming streets, with conversations and emotions expressing positivity and affection toward England’s women’s team. Where any negative attitude toward the women’s game had once been, it was now replaced with respect, admiration and pride.

Meanwhile, a record 87,192 fans flooded the historic Wembley Stadium in North London — the most this venue had ever held for football, women’s or men’s — with the mix of both male and female, young and old, contrasting the “traditional” attendees who hold a poor reputation for hooliganism and violence, the things that no self-respecting English football fan endorses. This atmosphere was one of joy and hope, and the emotion resonated from the stands and into the 90 minutes that followed.

Germany are England’s old foe. They were the team defeated in 1966 by the heroes who first wore the three lions on their shirts. To meet them in the 2022 Women’s Euro final was fitting, and the stage couldn’t have been more set for what followed. After a tense first half, the scoring began in the second. First by England’s Ella Toone, the Manchester United forward who skillfully chipped the ball over the keeper with perfect composure.

Chloe Kelly celebrates after scoring the game-winner for England in extra time. (Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images)

Germany, of course, would respond. Lina Magull’s late equalizer sent the game into extra time and England fans into a state of concern. Chloe Kelly made sure the feeling didn’t last long, scoring her first international goal for England while breaking the curse and finally turning the hurt into joy.

The image of her sprinting across the pitch and waving her shirt above her head, sports bra on display, will be an iconic image of defiance and victory in years to come. It will be a reminder of the day that women’s football was changed forever, the day that the Lionesses brought it home for England.

This is our game, a game that belongs to all who hold it dear. Our game now has a new story, and the narrator is female.

Sammy Gunnell is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports based in London, England. Follow him on Twitter @SammyTheBW.

Before there were the A’ja Wilsons and the Breanna Stewarts of the WNBA, there was Adrienne Goodson. “Goody,” as she is popularly known, was a fiery 6-foot forward whose career spanned 14 years, beginning overseas before she returned to the U.S. in 1996 for the American Basketball League’s inaugural season.

In 1999, the Bayonne, N.J. native made the jump to the recently formed WNBA and was drafted by the Utah Starzz. In her first WNBA season, Goody had an immediate impact. She finished 10th in the league in scoring while averaging 33 minutes per game. In 2002, she was named to a WNBA All-Star Game. When the Utah Starzz relocated to San Antonio ahead of the 2003 season, Goody re-signed with the newly minted San Antonio Stars, now the Las Vegas Aces.

Here, Goodson tells the story of the ABL’s inception and her decision to enter the WNBA, the Aces setting an example by honoring their alumni and what’s next for the franchise, in her own words for Just Women’s Sports.


I’m in Jersey right now, but I’ve been traveling a lot this summer between North Carolina, Virginia and also Vegas. My trip to Vegas on Memorial Day Weekend was pretty out of the blue. It was four o’clock in the morning, and when I got this email from the president of the Las Vegas Aces (which shows how much Nikki Fargas is grinding!), and it said, “We want to honor you,” real talk, I thought, “Man, what do the Aces want with me?”

I had to re-read the email, and I still can’t believe it. It was mindblowing. The Aces were actually reaching out to former players with an invitation to a Las Vegas alumni celebration. As any diehard fan knows, the history of our team stretches far and wide. I decided to respond and heard back immediately. Before I knew it, I was flying out to Vegas to celebrate the WNBA’s 25th consecutive season at an Aces game on May 30.

As a former player, it can be hard sometimes when the league doesn’t show former players much love. But then came Mark Davis. The owner of the Las Vegas Aces franchise and the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, Mark understands the importance of acknowledging former players for their worth. The things he is doing for us are phenomenal, and I hope other teams follow suit in the years to come.

Before our trip to Vegas, Mark told me, “I’m bringing you guys out here, and I’m going to feature and showcase you all.” We watched two Aces games, we ate meals together, and everybody was able to tell their own story. I remember sitting with everyone and, let me tell you, there was not a dry eye in the room. From the players to the administration, those four days were an unforgettable experience.

This month, the Aces also honored WNBA All-Star and NBA coach Becky Hammon with a halftime jersey retirement ceremony. Although Becky never played in Las Vegas, the Aces have not forgotten what she did for the franchise in San Antonio. I was proud to see them pay tribute by retiring Becky’s No. 25. While her jersey is the first to hang in the rafters, there will soon be many more.

Players like Becky Hammon are not just pioneers of the Aces franchise — we are also pioneers of the WNBA. We paved the way for many of these young players to continue to excel. When I think back to entering the WNBA and being drafted by the Utah Starzz, it’s hard to forget the role the American Basketball League played in this story.

The ABL was really what brought me back home. When I graduated from Old Dominion in 1988, there was no professional women’s league in the United States. Playing overseas was our only option. So I packed my bags and I embarked on a professional career in Brazil. Soon enough, I was playing basketball in Rio de Janeiro, learning Portuguese, and sipping on coconuts every morning with my teammates. To leave that setting was difficult because I was in one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen in the world.

In Brazil, I met Val Whiting. She was part of the Stanford crew, and since the American Basketball League was headquartered in San Jose, Val had the lock on all the information. I remember her saying, “Hey, listen, this league is getting ready to start, and you’ll get the opportunity to go back home if you want to play.” I thought, “Wow, I guess I’m going to stay home this year.”

I can’t say enough great things about the American Basketball League. I really feel like “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” when I think of those years. And I feel the same way about Brazil — I left my heart there, too! Those two places were just absolutely phenomenal and opened the door for myself and so many other players. I don’t think the ABL ever gets enough glory.

Shortly after the ABL was formed, the NBA began creating the WNBA. During those years, what I remember most is the crazy media attention surrounding the WNBA. The WNBA commercials! There were so many dang commercials. And that was really because something new had arrived in women’s basketball: competition.

I was hesitant to leave the ABL because it was a very family-oriented league. The passion of our fan base was something I’ve never experienced before. But when the league folded in 1998, I decided it was time to move over to the WNBA.

I felt like Utah was a special place because, first of all, when I found out I was going there, I dropped to my knees and I started screaming something along the lines of: “Lord, you got jokes! Are you kidding me? Salt Lake? What’s even in Utah?”

After I went through that moment, Fred Williams called me and said, “Listen, I don’t know how the hell you dropped to the third round.” And to be honest, I was furious, too. I had heard from many different teams before the draft so I thought I might be going fifth or sixth overall. But then there’s always the politics that goes on behind the scenes. I really got hit with it. I feel like I was one of those players that always had to “kick in the door.”

With that being said, I get out to Utah and I decide that I’m just going to get to work. I became top three on the team in scoring that year, third in rebounding and second in assists, and I continued to consistently finish in the league’s top 10 in scoring. But more importantly, we all grinded up there. For three hard years, we accomplished more than anyone thought we could. We took that team to a new level and we brought the fans with us.

Looking back on our legacy, it can feel bittersweet at times. But from Natalie Williams to Margo Dydek, Debbie Black, Korie Hlede and myself, we laid the foundation for that team. That was our blood, sweat and tears.

I know we prayed so much in Utah and in San Antonio for our team, and you know what? God never let us fold! And maybe it was for all of this, so that we could build something so special with the Las Vegas Aces. So that nothing could ever tear us down.

Adrienne Goodson (“Goody”) is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. She played 14 years of professional basketball, including seven in the WNBA. A three-time All-Star in the pros and an NCAA champion, she was inducted into the Old Dominion Hall of Fame in 1999. She is the host of the podcast “A WNBA State of Mind with Adrienne Goodson.” Follow her on Twitter @agoody15_wnba.

Note: this piece was first published in The Sustainability Report

As a professional athlete, you’re always looking for a competitive edge. Every morning, you wake up and ask yourself, how can I be better today than I was yesterday?

You’re always looking to improve, and not just on the field. Every aspect of your life is under constant review for areas where you can do more to maximise your efforts.

Six years ago, my own professional journey led me to become a vegan athlete. I initially made the switch for health reasons and because I thought it could improve my on-field performance. Little did I know that it would fundamentally change the way I see my place in the world and ultimately lead me to take the initiative of working to make the sports industry carbon-neutral, starting with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

Almost immediately upon going vegan, I felt the personal benefits of my new diet. I felt stronger, both physically and mentally. My recovery time was shorter and my energy levels were higher. Playing soccer year round in the NWSL and W-League wears on both your mind and body. But after I made the switch, I honestly felt like I was getting younger season after season.

Over time, I started to do more research into the diet. And as I did, I was blown away to discover just how much of an impact being vegan had not only on my own health, but on the health of the planet as a whole.

Did you know that you’d save more water by not eating one pound of meat than you would by not taking a shower for 6 months?

Or that 70% of grains and cereals grown in the United States are fed to farmed animals?

And that nearly a third of the Earth’s land mass is used for raising animals?

When I had heard people praise veganism before, it was always in terms of saving the animals. Obviously, I knew that eating chicken wasn’t ideal for the chicken. But what I hadn’t realised was just how inefficient it is to raise animals—and how much damage eating meat does to the earth itself.

Going vegan forced me to think critically about my relationship with the environment, as I became keenly aware of every single thing I was putting in my body. And the more I read, the more my love for the natural world evolved. I realised that being vegan wasn’t just a way to spare the lives of animals and help my athletic career – but that it was also a way to help the Earth, day by day, meal after meal.

One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with climate change is that it’s such a huge problem. It’s hard to see how you can make an impact as a single individual. But what my experience with veganism has proven to me is that changing the world is often as simple as just changing a few of your everyday behaviours.

While collectively we need to think big in order to save our planet, individually, we need to think small. Eco-friendly habits, over time, will do more than any one single decision or donation.

As I’ve grown in my education and awareness, I’ve looked for other ways to change my personal behavior in order to lower my environmental impact.

I started by tracking my own carbon footprint. As a professional athlete, travel is an unavoidable part of my job. But by creating a baseline, I would have something tangible to work against, and I knew it would be a great resource to share with my teammates.

I partnered up with Santiago Gallo, who used to work for the OL Reign as an operations coordinator and manager. Santiago has a background in environmental engineering and sustainable consulting, and even when he was back home in Colombia, he was still willing to help me aggregate and analyse all the data I sent him.

With his help, I was able to rally my teammates and team owners together to figure out ways that the OL Reign could lead the league in sustainable practices, starting with the 2020 Challenge Cup.

Understanding our impact on the environment was and continues to be very important to me. I was already well aware that our team travel had a significant carbon impact but I wanted to delve deeper into the numbers, so I decided to track my own personal carbon footprint during a season. Originally, I planned on mainly tracking travel until the pandemic eliminated travel and had us all competing in a common location.

Inside last summer’s Challenge Cup bubble, safety was our top priority for obvious reasons. But because everyone was so focused on Covid, environmental concerns fell by the wayside.

When we first arrived in Utah, everyone was using plastic water bottles and disposable silverware. This was done for the sake of sanitation, but it also led to a ton of unnecessary waste. These levels of waste led me to expand the scope of my tracking and research. I wanted to see how replacing all the single-use plastics with reusable wares would impact carbon footprint data.

With the help of Dani Weatherholt and Rosie White, I immediately began reaching out to local companies that I thought would be interested in providing my teammates and I with sustainable products in exchange for us marketing their brand.

We were quickly able to secure Crazy Cap water bottles (which use UV light to kill bacteria) for each player on the team. Albatross Take Back Ware likewise provided us with reusable utensils that generated zero waste, and ECOlunchbox sent us stainless steel plates to eat off. Working with small, sustainable companies whose values aligned with our own, we were able to eliminate plastic from our Challenge Cup environment as a team.

As I pushed for our club to be more environmentally friendly, I became concerned about securing everyone’s buy-in. As female footballers, we already have so many other commitments and concerns that extend beyond the soccer field. Most of us don’t have the luxury to just focus on our sport in the way that our male counterparts do. Because of that, it’s easy to understand why environmental concerns can take lower priority.

But inside the bubble, all it took was leading by example. Once Rosie, Dani and I were able to show our teammates how easy it was to just change just a few of their habits, everyone bought in. They realised it was both more environmentally friendly and personally convenient to use reusable items rather than plastic.

My total carbon footprint inside the NWSL bubble last year was about 0.795 tons of CO2e, the relative equivalent of the consumption of 1.8 barrels of petroleum or charging your phone 101 times. Based on the similarly controlled conditions of my teammates in the bubble, I estimate comparable footprints for them as well.

While this was a relatively small sample, our Challenge Cup experience offered an important lesson: the best way to make an impact is to lead by example.

This is why athletes have so much influence in our society. Because they have so many eyes on them, they’re able to create a domino effect using their platform. They lead by example, whether it’s through their hard work on the field or their activism off of it.

This experience tracking my carbon footprint in the NWSL bubble helped me to hatch another idea that will launch at the 2021 Challenge Cup: putting together a travel kit for my teammates made up of sustainably-produced items that we use every day to help eliminate the use of single-use plastics. I chose a travel kit because, similar to a toiletry bag, it will be filled with items needed on a regular basis– items that will all be free of single-use plastic.

These travel kits, called the ‘Make a Difference’ kits (or ‘MAD,’ for short), include everything from a toothbrush to deodorant, shampoo to menstrual cups, protein powder to reusable bags. Everything in the kit is sourced from companies that credibly emphasise sustainable and eco-friendly production. In this year’s Challenge Cup, everyone part of OL Reign will receive a travel kit for their use during, and hopefully beyond, the competition. The goal is to spread these kits, and other initiatives like it, to the rest of the league and sports world as a whole.

As part of the launch of the kits, we’re releasing a digital pledge that encourages athletes and fans to #PlayItForward by doing one small act to eliminate the use of single-use plastics. My hope is that the message spreads far and wide, proving the ability the sports community has to help drive awareness in sustainability.

I firmly believe that if we, as athletes, can demonstrate sustainable behaviors, our fans will follow. They’ll see how easy and impactful it is to just change a few of their everyday habits, and together, we can create real change in the world.

I know when I’m competing on the pitch that there are girls in the audience who are studying what I do, hoping to improve their soccer game. If my behaviour on the field can inspire them, I don’t see why my behaviour off the field can’t as well.

Climate change is one of, if not the most critical issues facing our world today. But the size of the problem is no reason to despair. Systematic change starts with personal behaviour, and as a professional athlete, it’s my responsibility to spread awareness. I want people to know that they can, in fact, change the world. They just have to start with themselves.

Lauren Barnes is a professional soccer player for OL Reign and the creator of Make a Difference (MAD) kits