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Jamia Fields discusses athlete activism in the NWSL

Female football players struggling to keep the ball / JWS
Female football players struggling to keep the ball / JWS

Jamia Fields is a forward for the Houston Dash of the NWSL

In the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting, we have seen a lot of athletes using their platforms to demand change. The Black players of the NWSL also released a powerful statement in response. Can you talk to me about what being a part of that statement means and your perspective? 

I think it shows that we’re moving in the right direction. It’s terrible that all these things had to happen, or continue to happen, to come together as Black players in the league to make a statement. But I understand that we’re making a movement together, for the Black athletes in the league and the Black community as a whole.

What was the league’s response to your statements?

I’ve seen a couple statements, but overall the league has been supportive with our statement. They don’t really have a choice because we put it out there. As a Black players union, our goal really is to just come together and have a voice. Hopefully, people support it. If they don’t, we can all keep continuing to learn, but the league has been responding well and we’re appreciative of that. They’re trying to push for change.

After the statements made by Hansen, what is the hope for the future of NWSL ownership and how do you think the league can continue to progress?

Well, yes, the statements — they were terrible. Those things can’t be said. They show zero support. Black players, in this league, and across multiple leagues from the WNBA at the forefront and the MLS… we deserve better. We deserve to be seen. We deserve to fight against the injustices that are happening. And that’s what we’re trying to do.

Does your team or the NWSL have any plans for social justice messaging during the Fall Series at all?

Well, we do have plans. We are trying to lead a few initiatives, and we are trying to really piggyback off of what the WNBA has done. Obviously we have to stand on our own, as our league and ourselves, but we see how the WNBA has progressed and handled fighting for change. We definitely, as a league, as a whole — we need to be role models.

What have you learned about the role that athletes have to play in national conversations around race and social justice?

Well, this world kind of revolves around sports in a way. I’ve just been very proud and thankful for how many men and women athletes have been taking a stand and using their platforms to just really catch the eyes of America, and be like, “Hey, I know we’re good at our craft, but these topics are more important. These topics deserve the attention ahead of our games.” Right? So I’m just really proud of the female and male athletes that have really pushed for this.

 Is there anything that you have personally been using this time to reflect on? 

I just think that I can figure out more ways I can help fight for change. I think all of us wish we just had the one answer that would correct everything. I have been doing a lot of reflecting on how I can continue to use my platform, use my voice, to push for change. Both in the league and in my community.

 What have the conversations been like between teammates while all of this is going on? 

A lot of conversations are happening. We all have different perspectives, we’re all raised differently, we’re of different races. But I think these conversations are important due to the fact that we have been raised differently and we are different. We should come together and see each other’s perspectives. There were a lot of conversations at the tournament, and now, here in Houston, we have been collaborating with the MLS a little bit, trying to figure out how our organizations can make a bigger impact on the Black and Brown community in Houston.

Was there anything else that you wanted to mention that I didn’t bring up?

In sports, our voices are so powerful. And so in these leagues, in these seasons, I keep highlighting the WNBA, and that needs to be pushed in our league because we’re not a minority Black league. The NWSL is predominantly white. We need to try harder with using our voices and our platform, know when our games are aired on TV we can use that platform to be able to show like “Hey, these are injustices that are happening, and we need justice to happen.” I’d just like to really highlight that point.

Caitlin Clark dunks on Michael Che in surprise SNL appearance

(Julia Hansen/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Caitlin Clark made a surprise appearance on “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend, which quickly went viral.

The Iowa star showed up on the show’s Weekend Update segment to playfully call out Michael Che’s history of making jabs at women’s sports.

It started when Che joked that Iowa should replace Clark’s retired No. 22 “with an apron.” 

When Clark entered, Che said that he was a fan. But Clark wasn’t convinced – especially not when co-host Colin Jost brought the receipts of Che’s jabs.

“Really, Michael? Because I heard that little apron joke you did,” she said, before making him read some jokes of her own in retaliation. Clark finished her segment by shouting out the WNBA greats that came before her. She then got in one final dig – bringing Che a signed apron as a souvenir. 

When Che promised to give it to his girlfriend, Clark delivered her last playful dig of the night.

“You don’t have a girlfriend, Michael,” she said.

Afterward, SNL castmember Bowen Yang told People that the 22-year-old and teammates Gabbie Marshall, Kate Martin and Jada Gyamfi – who joined her at Studio 8H – “were so cool.”

“She's so charming and witty,” Yang said. “They were just the most stunning, noble people.

“Athletes just have this air about them. They know they're amazing. I mean, these are people who have numeric attachments and values to their performance. That's something that comedians never have.”

Portland Thorns, in uncharted territory, start NWSL season winless

Portland has started the season winless through four games for the first time. (Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports)

The Portland Thorns continue to struggle to start the NWSL season, falling 2-0 to the North Carolina Courage over the weekend to remain winless through their first four games. 

It’s uncharted territory for Portland, who has never started the NWSL regular season without a win in four games before.

Following the loss, defender Becky Sauerbrunn voiced her frustrations with the start. 

“It’s hard to find a lot of encouraging things, but what I find encouraging is that people are frustrated,” she said. “People are pissed off that we’re not doing well. We care, and I think that’s really important.” 

She also added that while the team will reflect individually, “there’s going to be no finger pointing.”

“We’re going to look at ourselves and figure out what we should have done, or I should have done better,” she said. “There is a list of things that I could have done better, and I’m going to make sure I know every single thing and watch this game back.”

The Thorns currently sit at the bottom of the league table with just one point, having allowed 10 goals – tied for the worst in the league. They’ve yet to lead in a match. And as questions grow, attention turns to head coach Mike Norris. 

Norris is in his second year as head coach of the club after leading the team to a second-place finish in the regular season last year. When asked about the possibility of pressure growing after the unprecedented start, Norris said that the pressure has been there “from day one.”

“I cannot be driven by my day-to-day and the longer vision of the pressure of the job,” he said. “We’ve got a belief in how we want to play, how we operate. We’ve got to stick with the process of that. While we do it, we have to review and see what is working, what’s not working.

“I’ll be showing up for the team and being there for what they need from me as we approach getting back together as a group next week.”

Maria Sanchez reportedly requests trade from Houston Dash

Mar 23, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Dash forward Maria Sanchez (7) warms up before the match between Racing Louisville and Houston Dash at Shell Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Maria Sanchez, who signed one of the biggest deals in NWSL history just four months ago, has reportedly requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

ESPN was the first to report the news, which was confirmed by multiple sources.

In a statement to ESPN, the team said: “​​Maria Sanchez is under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the Dash worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. At the time, it was the largest contract in NWSL history – something that was eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

The winger was a restricted free agent in the offseason, meaning that Houston could match any offer from another team and retain her rights. Should the team trade Sanchez, her contract would remain as it has been signed with the league. That limits the number of teams that could take on her contract. 

In three starts with the Dash this season, Sanchez has zero goals and an assist. The Dash are 1-2-1 through four games and have allowed a league-worst 10 goals.

The team hired a new coach, Fran Alonso, in December. Earlier this year, former goalkeeper coach Matt Lampson was fired for violating the league’s Coach Code of Conduct and Anti-Fraternization policy. 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close at midnight ET on Friday.

Canada beats U.S. Hockey 6-5 in thrilling World Championship win

UTICA, NEW YORK - APRIL 14: Team Canada raises the Championship Trophy after winning The Gold by defeating The United States in OT during the 2024 IIHF Women's World Championship Gold Medal game at Adirondack Bank Center on April 14, 2024 in Utica, New York. (Photo by Troy Parla/Getty Images)

Canada got its revenge on Sunday, winning the 2024 IIHF Women’s World Championship and taking down the U.S. in a 6-5 overtime classic.

Marie-Philip Poulin, a longtime star for Canada, got her first two goals of the tournament, while Danielle Serdachny had the game-winner. 

"I hate to say you're not trying to rely on it, expect it, but I know I've grown to expect it," Canada coach Troy Ryan said of Philip-Poulin. "Tonight was just a whole other level. I could see in her eyes every time we called her name that she was ready to go. It's just special."

The win came after Canada lost 1-0 to the U.S. in the group stage of the tournament. On Sunday, the two teams met for the 22nd time in 23 tournaments in the gold medal game – and the action between the two teams delivered. 

Among those scoring for the U.S. were Megan Keller, Alex Carpenter, Hilary Knight, Laila Edwards and Caroline Harvey. Julia Gosling, Emily Clark and Erin Ambrose had the other three goals for Canada, giving them their 13th World title after falling to the U.S. in last year’s title game in Toronto. 

This year’s game was held in New York, and it was the second-highest scoring final between the two teams. The U.S. won a world championship 7-5 in 2015. 

"Oh man, that feels good to win it on U.S. soil," Canada goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens said after the game. "We owed it to them and owed it to ourselves to win that one."

Canada also denied Knight a record 10th World Championship win, although she did become the most decorated player in women’s world championship history with 14 medals. After the game, Poulin gave Knight a hug on the ice. 

"We just said 'that was unbelievable,'" Poulin said.

U.S. coach John Wroblewski echoed the sentiment that it was an outstanding game after being asked about ending the game on a power-play after leaving too many players on the ice. 

"Instead of talking about the isolated events of tonight's game, I think that normally that's an interesting storyline,” he said. “But I think the entity of an amazing 6-5 game is an amazing hockey game that took place."

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