Shannon Boxx embraced the impact she had on the younger generation, even as she was redefining the role of a defensive midfielder for the US women’s national team.
Boxx was played at a time when the national team was predominantly white. At the 2015 Women’s World Cup, she was one of just three women of color to play for the United States.
She was aware of her presence on the field as a fraternity lady sent a message to girls like her.
“There were definitely times when I was on the national team that I looked around and I was like, ‘I’m the only person of color on the team right now at certain moments,'” she said. “For me, it was just a huge weight I wanted to carry, but I remember, well, when we’re signing autographs, looking for kids who are colored because I want to. Let them know that they can do it, and I may be alone now but it’s not going to happen in the future.”
Boxx played in 195 games for the United States, the most by a black woman in national team history. Next week she will be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Frisco, Texas, with a class that includes former men’s national team star Clint Dempsey.
Known as Boxxy, she retired at the age of 38, shortly after the United States won the 2015 World Cup. He also won three Olympic gold medals with the national team.
He brought creativity and tech savvy to his position. He did not make his debut with the national team until the age of 26, but made an immediate impact and was named in the 2003 World Cup roster by then-coach April Heinrich. She became the first American woman to score in each of her first three appearances with the team.
In the later years of his career, Boxx took two years off due to injuries and the birth of his daughter. She also battled lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome, both autoimmune diseases.
While his run with the national team was marked by resilience, he also faced challenges in his professional career. After a short stint in Germany, Boxx was drafted by WUSA’s San Diego Spirit in 2001. She credits the professional league for raising her game.
He started his first season, but his playing time was cut short in the second.
“I don’t think up to that point, I had really failed. I was successful in high school, successful in college,” she said. “And it was the first time I was like, ‘Wow, like, there’s another whole level that if I really want to be successful, I have to do these things to get there.'”
Boxx continued to play in the Women’s Professional Football League and eventually the National Women’s Football League.
After her retirement, Boxx settled with her family in Portland, Oregon, where she helped start a girls’ soccer academy to help bring the sport to a smaller population.
“Parents are just so happy that we’re coming into a community that wants to do this. They want to provide it for their kids, but they don’t have the means to do that,” Box said. “I think it’s just making things more accessible. And realizing that getting paid to play isn’t the only means of getting someone to play football.”
Boxx will be joined by former teammate Christy Pearce Rampon, who was originally voted into the Hall of Fame last year but put off his induction until this season in reaction to a string of scandals in the NWSL.
Former US goalkeeper Hope Solo was voted into the Hall of Fame this year, but issued a statement saying she would delay her induction for a year while she remained in a position following her arrest on DWI charges in late March. Participates in inpatient treatment program.
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