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Kiki Stokes Discusses the Tweet Heard ‘Round the World

Courtesy of This is Us Softball

Kiki Stokes was on the field playing for Scrap Yard Fast Pitch on June 22nd when the team’s GM, Connie May, tweeted at President Donald Trump, bragging that the whole team had stood for the anthem. That night, the entire team quit in protest of having been unwillingly used to make a political statement, cutting short what was supposed to be a summer-long series with the USSSA Pride. Days later, the 18 players announced they were making a new team, called This is Us. Below, Stokes walks us through the events of the last two weeks and what comes next. 

The last two weeks have been crazy. Can you describe what happened from your perspective, starting with what went down after that first game? 

So the game ended and we were all kind of walking into the locker room at different times. I sat down in my seat and I had picked up my phone and I noticed that I got a text message from one of my teammates, Kelsey Stewart. It was a screenshot of the tweet. In that moment, I guess, I didn’t really know how to view the tweet or how to take it. I just had to sit there for a second and comprehend it all. And as more and more of my teammates were coming into the locker room, everybody’s starting to see the same thing. So at that point it became really heated in the locker room, because we knew exactly who had put out the tweet. We were trying to figure out where to go next. I think one of the biggest things was, “Kiki, how do you feel? What do you want to do in this moment?”

And I really couldn’t say a ton. I was just overwhelmed, and I felt betrayed. That’s the best way to put it. And immediately, in that moment, everybody was like, “We’re done. We’re going to walk out. This is it. We’re done.” About 10, 15 minutes after that, our coaches walked in and expressed their apologies. They had just gotten the news as well. And they had told us whatever we wanted to do, they were going to be a hundred percent behind us. And they stuck by that. They chose to walk out of their jobs as well.

When did Connie May address the team? 

About 30 minutes after that, because we asked if the GM could come into the locker room. Because obviously as a team, we wanted to talk about it. And immediately, the first thing that she did was try to justify why she said what she said. In that moment, a bunch of team members started speaking up about why what she did was wrong, and what we were going to do as a team. She kept trying to say her two cents. She kept chiming in. At one point, she started repeating, “All Lives Matter.”

That was my cue. I started to pack up my things as she kept talking, and of course my teammates are still chiming in trying to tell her why she was wrong. And then she says, “Well, this is a really uncomfortable situation for me.” And at the time, I mean, I was the only black person in the locker room.

I realized, she doesn’t understand, she’s not comprehending anything of what we’re saying. She’s just thinking about her own feelings, to be honest. So I just walked out of the locker room. She tried to stop me saying, “Kiki, wait, let me explain.” And at that point again, I’m just a mess. So I walk out. About a minute later, my teammates are right behind me. Everyone’s cleaned out their lockers and they’re leaving.

I’d heard that she was just talking in circles and that players started walking out. I didn’t realize you were the one to really lead that. 

That’s the best way to describe it. She was talking in circles. I mean, I was obviously crying and as were some of my teammates. It was just really, really disheartening to know that she did what she did to fit her own agenda. It’s not even like we had had a discussion prior to the game. Were we going to stand? Were we going to kneel?

That was never a discussion that any of us had had amongst each other or as a team or as an organization. So for her to just do that while we were playing and blindsiding all of us was just so disrespectful and insensitive to everything that’s going on right now in our world and within the Black community. And so I think walking out was a really easy decision for everybody. It wasn’t even a question. I mean, it was like, “What do we do? Okay, we’re done? All right, cool.” Jerseys came off and that was that.


Yeah. It was a really quick decision for everybody. I don’t even think anybody thought twice about it. I mean, for myself, I was just like, “Yeah, I’m leaving. I can’t play for an organization that doesn’t stand behind me.” It was powerful, though, because some of these girls I’ve only known for a week or two, and the fact that they would go to bat for me and stand behind me just goes to show the character that we have on our team.

I remember seeing the Tweet live and just thinking, what? And then hearing about what happened in the locker room after was so disheartening. But that’s so powerful to know your teammates were willing to have your back, no discussion needed. 

Mm-hmm [affirmative]. It was a really cool moment looking back. I mean, the fact that I was only outside the locker room for a moment, and then I turned around and saw everybody else was right there with me. That was a really cool moment. But again, it’s gone to show, you do the right thing and you stand up for what you believe in. As women, we have to put our foot down, especially when our voices have been taken, after we’ve fought for so long to have our voices heard. The fact that we did that, it speaks volumes of all of us and who we are.

Absolutely. Speaking of your collective power, can you talk to me a little bit about This Is Us Softball? Where did the initial idea come from? 

We kind of came up with this right after the game. That first night, our media director helped us come up with a statement. We could each write our own, but the initial statement was “This isn’t us,” in terms of what the tweet said. That wasn’t us. We didn’t have anything to do with it. We were blindsided by that.

I think making a new team was the obvious next stop. Everybody was like, “Okay. As long as we’re not tied to Scrap Yard or the general manager, we’re good. We’re going to keep playing. It’ll be on our terms.” And so then that next day, we were all thinking about names, and we said, “Well, what about This Is Us? Everything that we are doing now, this is us. This isn’t Connie, this isn’t whoever else is involved in the picture. This is us doing everything from here on out. This is us.”

And the USSSA Pride has been very, very supportive in everything that we’re doing. I think it was easy for them to just stand behind us and be like, “Well, we still want to play too. We’ll find a way to do it.” And literally within days, we had shirts and all of it to be able to do it.

How would you describe the new team’s mission? 

The best way to put it is it’s a group of us now that are going to stand on empowerment, unity and awareness, as far as educating the softball community about the things that need to be better. And whether it be in our game or just in life itself, I think that we’re really just striving to show people now that when one person messes up, there’s still a light at the end of the tunnel.

The speed at which you guys brought everything together is incredible. I mean, you already have t-shirts being printed and sold. 

I think this just goes to show all the resources that all of us have as a unit and as a team. When you put all those things together and you have people who were reaching out before we could even ask for a hand, it just goes to show how powerful our movement is and how much it meant to a lot of people that we stood up for what we believed in. Everybody that has donated, those are the people that really are making everything that we want to happen, happen.

How have you been handling all this mentally? I can’t imagine trying to organize all this and stay focused on your sport. 

It has been, honestly. When people ask, “How has it been?” I’m like, “honestly, it’s been overwhelming.” The softball part of it, actually being able to go and play softball, has been the best part because it’s our release. But all the stuff behind the scenes has been so stressful. And it really does suck because none of us are specialized in any of this stuff when it comes to the logistics of how to make something work. And everything costs money. So it’s hard. It’s hard to navigate through it all, but we have so much help, and we’re all on board. So that makes it easier. And when we see that we are inspiring people and that our story is being told all over the place, I think that’s what kind of keeps us motivated and keeps us going.

Do you think this is a temporary phenomenon, or is This is US something you hope will continue well after this summer? 

I think this is the beginning of something that’s going to have longevity. I think all of us want to be a part of making sure that this is something that can change our game and change the way we view professional softball. In the beginning, did we think it was temporary? Absolutely. But as it started growing and becoming more and more inspiring and powerful to people, I think we’ve changed our thinking around completely. Now it’s like, this is something that we have to continue to do and we want to continue to do. It’s become a long-term vision.

Seattle Reign Stars Barnes, Fishlock Back New USL W League Team

usl w league ballard vice president tiffany mallick holding an official usl w ball
Joining May 2025, Seattle’s USL W team will be the sixth in the league’s Northwest division. (Ballard FC/YouTube)

On Tuesday, 25 Seattle-based sports and business professionals announced their investment in a new USL W League team operated by popular semi-pro USL League Two men’s side Ballard FC.

Headlined by Lauren Barnes (Seattle Reign), Jess Fishlock (Seattle Reign), Olivia Van der Jagt (Seattle Reign), and Sam Hiatt (Gotham FC), alongside Seattle Storm co-owner Ginny Glider and Jen Barnes, owner of the women's sports-focused Rough & Tumble Pub, the yet-to-be-named Ballard squad will enter the pre-professional league next May.

Current Ballard FC president Sam Zisette will oversee both the men’s and women’s clubs, while vice president and seasoned athletic trainer Tiffany Mallick will shift her focus on the women's team.

"Our goal is to create better opportunities for young women to develop their skills on and off the field," said Reign captain Lauren Barnes in a team press release. "The path to professional soccer didn’t exist on the same scale while I was growing up, and I’m thrilled to be part of changing that for future players."

"Introducing a USL W League team to Ballard is a monumental step in advancing our organization and soccer community," added Zisette. "Ballard is a special place with an immense sense of pride, passionate spirit, and love for soccer. We can’t wait to see the community embrace this new team!"

Tampa Bay United Soccer Club
Launched in 2022, the USL W League now fields 80 teams across four conferences. (USL W League)

What is the USL?

The United Soccer League (USL), which organizes multiple US leagues across all divisions, has recently upped its commitment to the women's game.

In addition to the developmental USL W League — which started in 2022 and now fields 80 teams across four conferences plus three 2025 expansion teams, including Ballard — USL is set to launch the fully professional USL Super League next month.

With eight inaugural clubs (and plans to expand to 20 teams by 2026), the USL Super League will join the NWSL as the only other Division 1 women’s league in the country. But unlike the NWSL, the USL Super League will mirror the European schedule, operating from fall through spring with its official kickoff slated for August 17th.

As with USL W Ballard, the Super League also has some star power behind it. In May, WNBA All-Star rookie Angel Reese joined the ownership group of Washington's forthcoming DC Power FC.

USL W League finalists South Georgia Tormenta FC v Minnesota Aurora FC
The 2024 USL W League's semifinals kick off on Saturday, July 13th. (Jeremy Olson/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

USL W League gears up for postseason action

But before the USL Super League takes the pitch, their pre-professional counterparts will finish up their 2024 postseason run.

On Saturday, the USL W's four conference champions will square off in the league semifinals on Saturday, July 13th, with NC Courage U23 hosting Tennessee SC and the Colorado Storm facing Detroit City FC in Michigan. Winners from those two matches will then battle it out at the USL W League final on July 20th.

All USL W postseason action can be streamed live on SportsEngine Play.

Wilson, Clark Put Up Record-Breaking Numbers in Midweek WNBA Action

WNBA Las Vegas Aces A'ja Wilson blocks Nneka Ogwumike of the Seattle Storm
Las Vegas's A'ja Wilson added to her lengthy stat sheet on Wednesday. (Scott Eklund/NBAE via Getty Images)

Around the WNBA, big-name players A'ja Wilson, Kahleah Copper, Caitlin Clark, and Angel Reese made good use of Wednesday's jam-packed five-game schedule, kicking off a pre-All-Star Weekend campaign that promises not to disappoint.

Aces' A'ja Wilson racks up a perfect 20/20

Two-time MVP A’ja Wilson was the star of the show yesterday, throwing down epic numbers in one of her most successful performances so far this season

Wilson registered a 24-point, 20-rebound double-double in the Aces’ 84-79 win over Seattle, marking the six-time All-Star's first-ever 20/20 game.

Storm guard Jewell Loyd’s 28 points led the game, but between Wilson’s numbers and fellow Ace Jackie Young’s 27 points, Vegas managed to leapfrog fifth-place Seattle to secure a fourth-place spot in the WNBA standings.

WNBA star Kahleah Copper of the Phoenix Mercury drives to the basket against the Dallas Wings
With 32 points, Mercury standout Kahleah Copper led the WNBA in scoring Wednesday. (Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images)

Top-ranked WNBA teams keep scoring

At the top of the table, the Liberty beat the Sun 71-68 to oust Connecticut from the pair's previous tie for first in the standings. 

2024 WNBA All-Star DeWanna Bonner’s 22 points led the Sun, while Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu sank 21 points alongside Breanna Stewart’s 18-point, 14-rebound double-double to extend New York's record to 18-4 on the season.

And in Phoenix, the Mercury dominated the last-place Wings 100-84 behind Kahleah Copper’s 32 points — the most drained by any player that day. Yet despite double-doubles from both Teaira McCowan and Arike Ogunbowale, Dallas fell to 5-18 on the season with the loss.

WNBA Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark shoots in a game against the Washington Mystics
WNBA rookie phenom Caitlin Clark dropped 29 points for Indiana on Wednesday. (Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Rookies Clark, Reese, and Cardoso put up numbers

Fever star Caitlin Clark owned Indiana's stat sheet yesterday with 29 points and 13 assists, becoming the first player in WNBA or NBA history to drop 25+ points, five rebounds, 10+ assists, five steals, and three blocks in a single game.

Clark's effort wasn't enough to hold off the otherwise struggling Mystics, however, who stunned the Fever 89-84 behind a monster 26 points from Ariel Atkins

Chicago's rookies joined forces to lift the Sky over the Dream 78-69, as Kamilla Cardoso added her own double-double to teammate Angel Reese’s record-extending 14th

This season, Reese and Cardoso have combined to average just under 20 rebounds per game so far this season. If that metric holds, they’ll make WNBA history with the highest average for any duo in a single season.

A 2024 WNBA All-Star banner hangs outside the Footprint Center
Only 15 regular season games remain before WNBA All-Star Weekend in Phoenix. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

What happens next for WNBA teams

With All-Star Weekend tipping off one week from today, only 15 regular season games remain before the WNBA's scheduled Olympic break.

Whether they currently sit in first or last place, all 12 teams will want to hit the ground running when play resumes on August 15th.

NBA 2K25 to Feature WNBA All-Star A’ja Wilson on Cover

NBA 2K25 WNBA Edition Cover starring A'ja Wilson
Five-time WNBA All-Star A'ja Wilson will feature on both the NBA 2K25 WNBA and the dual-league NBA 2K25 All-Star Edition covers. (NBA 2K25)

Today, NBA 2K25 announced back-to-back WNBA Champion, two-time WNBA MVP, and six-time WNBA All-Star A’ja Wilson as its latest cover athlete.

Las Vegas's newly minted all-time leading scorer, Wilson will grace the cover of the GameStop exclusive NBA 2K25 WNBA Edition. She will also be featured on the dual-league All-Star Edition alongside 2024 NBA Champion Jayson Tatum.

"Being featured on the NBA 2K25 cover is a big moment for me and a testament to the ever-growing fandom of the WNBA," said A’ja Wilson in Wednesday's press release. "Seeing more and more WNBA athletes scanned into NBA 2K25 to best capture the style and confidence of the league has been empowering, and I can't wait for fans to experience it in-game."

Wilson has had a standout season so far. The back-to-back reigning Defensive Player of the Year not only topped the Aces' all-time scoring list, but also leads the league in points per game with an average of 27 and sits second in average rebounds per game with 10.9. In May, she announced a signature shoe deal with Nike, and later this month, she'll be heading to Paris as a part of Team USA's 12-player Olympic 5×5 roster. It will be the 27-year-old's second time competing in the Summer Games.

"In a year that showcases competition at the highest level — and in a play style that is uniquely one’s own, we’re thrilled to share Jayson, A’ja, and Vince as the NBA 2K25 cover athletes" said Greg Thomas, president at 2K studio Visual Concepts. "The development team has delivered another innovative experience for basketball lovers, setting up NBA 2K25 to be the next icon in this long-standing dynasty."

nba 2k25 wnba cover star a'ja wilson
"Seeing more and more WNBA athletes scanned into NBA 2K25 to best capture the style and confidence of the league has been empowering," said Wilson. (NBA 2K25)

The New-Gen version of the video game is available on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. Powered by enhanced ProPLAYTM technology, the release delivers the franchise’s most true-to-life basketball experience yet, offering players the ultimate control in how they dominate the competition in modes such as MyNBA, The W, and in The City.

According to the press release, the WNBA Edition will be available for $69.99 while the All-Star Edition will run $99.99. NBA 2K25 will be available on September 6th on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

NWSL Awards Race Heats Up Ahead of Olympic Break

Temwa Chawinga of the Kansas City Current runs with the ball in an NWSL game with the Portland Thorns
With 12 goals, Kansas City's Temwa Chawinga tops this year's NWSL Golden Boot race. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

As the NWSL heads into the Olympic break, it's time to take stock of the players currently in contention for individual accolades by season's end.

Only 10 regular season games remain after the league's August 23rd return, despite this season being four games longer than last year's campaign.

NWSL Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda in action during a NWSL match against Seattle Reign
Orlando's Barbra Banda is a strong NWSL Golden Boot award contender. (Nicholas Faulkner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The NWSL Golden Boot award comes down to two

The league's Golden Boot frontrunners are well known, with Orlando's Barbra Banda and KC's Temwa Chawinga leading the pack.

At the moment, Chawinga has a slight edge on Banda even though both forwards are tied at 12 goals apiece: Chawinga has registered six assists to Banda's five, giving her the award's first tiebreaker. Banda, however, has racked up her goals in just 12 games, while Chawinga's tally has come over 16 games.

With 10 matches to go, Banda and Chawinga could be on pace to break former Chicago Red Star Sam Kerr's 18-goal single-season record.

NWSL Washington Spirit's Croix Bethune celebrates her stoppage-time equalizer against San Diego Wave FC
Washington's Croix Bethune is in the running for both the Rookie of the Year and NWSL MVP awards (Amber Searls/USA TODAY Sports)

NWSL MVP award is still anyone's game

While Banda and Chawinga are certainly shoo-ins for this year's MVP conversation, a few other players also deserve some attention.

Rookie of the Year favorite Coix Bethune leads the league in assists with a staggering nine while sitting tied for seventh in goals scored with five. 

USWNT stars Trinity Rodman and Sophia Smith should also be considered, as Rodman's passing and finishing continue to stand out while Smith's performance has resulted in 10 goals and six assists on the season.

NWSL goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger of NJ/NY Gotham FC stops the ball during a game against Bay FC
Late Gotham addition Ann-Katrin Berger might just snag the NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year award. (Karen Hickey/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

Plenty of NWSL competition for defensive awards

Orlando and Gotham have the stoutest defenses in the league this year, with both Defender and Goalkeeper of the Year candidates in the mix.

Orlando defender Emily Sams has proven her versatility, playing outside back after entering the league as a center-back while also being called into her first USWNT camp.

Recently signed Gotham goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger might be behind in games played, but she's been statistically solid ever since joining the 2023 NWSL champions.

And don't count out two-time reigning Defender of the Year Naomi Girma, who has been consistently excellent even as San Diego's season has wavered.

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