Strike a Blow Against Systemic Racism: Support South Tacoma United Soccer Club

When I first saw this message from Christina Lorella of South Tacoma United, I thought it was just a story pitch about a local soccer team and, to be honest, I wasn’t terribly interested. We don’t do a lot of sports coverage. After reading through it, though, I realized it was about more than just a soccer team. It was about pushing back against a stark injustice that has persisted in spite of this season of reckoning that we’ve all been living through for the last year and a half.

TLDR; donate to the team to help get them to the nationals where they rightfully belong.

The following is Christina’s message, edited slightly for clarity:


I am a board member for South Tacoma United Soccer Club and a parent on the team coached by a volunteer named Vicente Lemus. Recently, our girls 2008 team won both the state championship and then the US Club National Cup Regionals for the northwest region. With that win, we were invited to compete in the national championship in Colorado. 

These girls have defied all odds. Youth soccer has become a pay-to-play world, where those with money are invited to the top clubs and it is there that they receive the recognition they need to advance their careers and earn scholarships. Unfortunately, the athletes who cannot afford those programs either don’t bother trying or are overlooked for someone who can pay.

As Doug Andreassen, the chairman of US Soccer’s diversity task force, explained, he sees “well-to-do families spending thousands of dollars a year on soccer clubs that propel their children to the sport’s highest levels, while thousands of gifted athletes in mostly African American and Latino neighborhoods get left behind.” Andreassen “worries about this inequity. Soccer is the world’s great democratic game, whose best stars have come from the world’s slums, ghettos and favelas. And yet in the US the path to the top is often determined by how many zeroes a parent can write in their checkbook.” (It’s only working for the white kids’: American soccer’s diversity problem. The Guardian, 2016.) For this reason, youth from underserved communities are almost always left out of the equation.

Our club is different. At South Tacoma United, our highly talented coaches volunteer their time and energy to keep our rates affordable. We are a 501 (c)(3) who works hard to fundraise throughout the year, believing that every child should have the opportunity to play the game of soccer, regardless of ability to pay.

However, the more people we help, the tougher it can be to cover our expenses. Evolution has talent that is unmatched by other local teams. An invitation to a national championship is no easy feat, even for the pay-to-play club, and it is something most kids could only dream of achieving. These girls have all the talent in the world but require the support of their community to make this dream a reality.  Evolution is comprised almost entirely of girls of color, many of whom are Latinx, and who come from working-class homes.

These girls deserve recognition for the barriers they have overcome. An invitation to a national championship is no easy feat, even for the pay-to-play clubs and these girls have fought obstacle after obstacle to get here.

For example, many of the girls speak Spanish in their homes. On multiple occasions, they (or other teams in our club) have been told they should not or could not speak in Spanish by the referees. Other times, we have been denied placement in the highest leagues, even after winning our seasons by a landslide, simply because our club is small and does not have the funds or the resources to hire coaches or board members with certain licenses.

The other reason is that our club is too small and doesn’t bring in enough money. Bureaucracy in youth sports is rampant, and almost everything about youth soccer favors white athletes from affluent homes while leaving athletes of color behind. This team has fought through it all and won every single one of their games against teams both their own age and years higher, just in a battle to prove their worth. And now is their chance to show the world who they are as representatives of the State of Washington.


Donate to the GoFundme campaign here and follow them on Facebook here.

All funds raised will be used for:

  • Travel-related expenses for Evolution players and coach (airfare, hotels, transportation, food)
  • Player equipment and gear
  • Any additional costs accrued as a result of the national tournament

South Tacoma United is a 501 (c) (3) organization. Donors to our Club are able to deduct contributions under Internal Revenue Code Section 170. EIN: 47-4267310 | Tacoma, WA, United States

Photos courtesy of South Tacoma United

  1. Wow. Thank you for raising awareness to this. Never thought about it before, but it makes sense. Very honored to donate to this

  2. This article is misleading and a misrepresentation of this team. I am a parent of a child who plays on a Washington Premier ECNL team alongside a few of these girls. They have not been discriminated against. I am confused as to why the article represents South Tacoma United as a team of underserved minority children who have not been afforded the opportunity to play on Premier teams, yet 6 of these girls play for Washington Premier. In addition, president of the STU soccer club is also the team manager for Washington Premier 09 ECNL girls.

    The article states: Bureaucracy in youth sports is rampant, and almost everything about youth soccer favors white athletes from affluent homes while leaving athletes of color behind. This team has fought through it all and won every single one of their games against teams both their own age and years higher, just in a battle to prove their worth. And now is their chance to show the world who they are as representatives of the State of Washington.”

    The article implies that the kids on this team have been rejected due to race and/or socioeconomic status yet the STU team is comprised of kids that also play for Washington Premier. Essentially, they are playing for 2 teams and their parents have paid the cost associated with Washington Premier and team travel. Some of the STU players have parents who have already paid out of pocket for their upcoming trip to San Diego with Washington Premier. Yes, paying twice is expensive but also a choice as they are choosing to play on two different teams. It appears as though the team is misleading the public for donations?

    Is this team attempting to use current social events to mislead and persuade the community to pay for travel? I’m baffled….

    1. Haha! White privilege at it’s finest! Quite a reply Karen, without knowing the facts of the kids on this team or their financial situation. Good for you your daughter can play and pay for an expensive club. Not everyone has the opportunity to afford these opportunities. Just keep being part of the problem. It looks good on you!

    2. Congrats on your daughter making ECNL at WP! That’s a fabulous program and one to be proud of, for sure! Your daughter must be a tremendous athlete!

      You are correct, there are a few players on this team who are blessed to play for WP. Without violating their privacy, please keep in mind that some of those families do receive financial assistance from one or both clubs. While STU provides exceptional coaching and is blessed with talent, WP provides professional coaching and opens the door to future opportunities, like college scholarships, that smaller clubs often cannot provide for a variety of reasons. The athletes who play for more than one club are so grateful for the opportunity and realize it is a privilege.

      Evolution is a team of 17 girls from varying socioecomic backgrounds, most of whom (if not all) come from working class families. The club works hard to fundraise with the goal of providing all young athletes in the community the opportunity to play recreational or competitive soccer, regardless of ability to pay. With just a few weeks notice, the cost of traveling to a national tournament was just too much for some of our families to absorb, especially coming off the back of a pandemic that impacted many incomes. Without the generous support of our community members, this opportunity would not have been possible for many of our players and our girls and their families could not be more grateful for the love and support they have received.

      I, for one, was on a plane with two players who had never flown before and who used their savings to pay for their own flights to the tournament before the fundraiser monies came through. Seeing the joy and excitement in their eyes was a moment I will never forget—made possible because of a whole lot of talent and the kindness of their community.

      Please also keep in mind that any parents who did not need financial assistance were able to opt out and donate it back to players in need. We are so grateful to everyone who expressed their support and who made this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity a reality for a group of 17 incredible young ladies!

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