During Women’s History Month, we’re recognizing women who are making a difference through the game we all love, whether they’re AO members, chapter leaders, players, or women helping in their community.
“There are very few people who grind harder for others than Eboni. She’s incredible as a chapter leader and she continues to push for the changes necessary to make our soccer space the most inclusive for everyone. We need 1 million Ebonis not just in AO, but in society at large.”
– Donald Wine, AO National Board
First up: How did you get into soccer and the U.S. national teams?
I didn’t get involved until 2010. I was in Argentina for school, and it was a World Cup year. My host family asked me if I watched soccer or knew Messi. I said no, and they immediately made me buy a Messi jersey and Argentina jacket. Came home, watched the men’s World Cup, then the Women’s World Cup in 2011. I was hooked from then.
And how’d you get involved with AO?
It was 2014, and I wanted to watch the World Cup again. An article about the American Outlaws was just featured on the news, so I checked for a local chapter here in Raleigh. I was only 20 at the time, but I walked in, said hi. People were friendly, we hung out, and in the moment of the Dempsey goal and the John Brooks goal, it was like I made 2,000 new friends. After that game, I introduced myself to then-President Kelly Carter, VP Stephen WIley, and Treasurer Adam Trimmer. She kinda said “I’m taking you under my wing” and helped me navigate the soccer world. All three kinda helped me understand the game more, and helped me understand what AO was about. I’ve been in leadership ever since.
Where/when/why did you first capo?
My first capo experience was wild. It was the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada. It was my first time really traveling for a game. I didn’t know anyone but Kelly and Donald [Wine], and I only knew of Donald; I don’t think we had actually met or talked. I didn’t know what I was doing, but Donald walked up to me and literally said, “you’re helping lead the march.” I looked at him like he was crazy, but that was kinda the end of the convo, so I just went with it. Rest is history.
What does it mean to you to capo?
Being a capo is awesome. It means so much that people trust me to lead them through 90 minutes of pure excitement for our national teams. One skill I think every capo needs is the ability to “read the room.” Know your audience and what chant will work in that moment. It took me a while to get the hang of that part. Energy and personality are big, too. I’ve capo’d with a lot of different people, and they all have different styles. Capo’ing with Max is different from Crystal [Cuadra-Cutler], Donald, Imani [Williams], or any local chapters. But we vibe off of each other, and make it a party on the stand, which makes the crowd have a party in the stands.
One of my favorite capo memories was actually not in the stands, but on a march. We were in Paris for the 2019 Women’s World Cup Quarterfinal vs. France. I couldn’t see how big the crowd was until I was a little higher up and I just saw thousands of fans following my lead. That’s one that will always stick with me. My favorite in-stadium moment has to be a combo of Nashville and Cincy from this qualifier round. Doing the intro Boom-Boom-Clap as players walk out and seeing the whole stadium get involved was amazing. I always get to share that moment with local capos, and their faces when it happens makes the whole game so much easier.
What does soccer mean to YOU?
Soccer means the world to me. Soccer is where I went when my mom passed away, and I instantly had a group of friends ready to support me, even though we had only met maybe two times. Soccer has allowed me to come out of my comfort zone a lot. I’m actually introverted. But you put me in front of 2,000+ crowds who are just as pumped as me for their national teams, and suddenly I don’t shut up. This sport has kinda given me a platform I didn’t know I had. I get to represent a lot of different communities. I’m loud, I’m Black, I’m gay, but I’m here. And I make sure that everyone around me has a voice, whether it’s through me or themselves. I don’t think I would have made that realization without soccer.
What do you want to see for women’s soccer in five or 10 years?
I want women’s soccer to be the biggest event. I want the money, I want the sponsors, I want the best of the best. I want Marta and Dunn jerseys on the backs of every soccer fan. Whatever the bar is for FIFA, raise it 10 times so it can be at the same level as the men. I want the atmosphere be just as rowdy, energetic and rambunctious as the men’s games. I want this game widely available and accessible to all. I want merch to be widely available (get it together, Nike) and accessible to all. In five years? I want this question to not even be considered, because we did it, and we left this game better for the next fan.