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U.S. Deaf Women's National Team using Colorado showcase as platform to reach kids

Australia US Soccer
Posted at 4:44 PM, Jun 02, 2024

Some strikers are said to have a sense for goal, but Emily Spreeman has dollars, maybe even a few Benjamin Franklin's.

Spreeman scored six goals — a hat-trick per half — to lead the U.S. Women's Deaf National Team (WNT) to a thumping 11-0 victory over Australia.

The match made history by being both the first U.S. Extended National Team (ENT) doubleheader with a senior U.S. National Team, and the first time an ENT has played on television in a U.S. Soccer-controlled match.

Spreeman's performance was also historic, six goals set a new Deaf WNT record for goals in a match along with being the most scored by a U.S. Soccer senior national team player in an 11-a-side match, encompassing the U.S. Women’s National Team, U.S. Men’s National Team, U.S. Women’s Deaf National Team and U.S. Men’s Deaf National Team.

“We made it," said Spreeman. "We’re finally here, this is real, we’ve dreamed about this day for so long.”

The relief in her voice jumps off the page because this recognition has been a long time coming for these dynamic athletes, including Colorado native Mia White.

“I’m humbled to be here and to be representing my home of Colorado and my community," said White ahead of their ground-breaking match at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

White didn't know the U.S. Deaf Women's National Team existed until she was 14 years old. At that point, the chance of making it to the national stage probably seemed slim.

But White never gave up, traveling to Rochester Institute of Technology to play college soccer, eventually catching on professionally to finnish second-tier club Kotkan Työväen Palloilijat, and earning her call up to the national team.

Prior to the showcase match against Australia, White's parents had never seen her don the USA crest in person.

“I can't explain [this feeling], it’s written all over my face," said White after being selected in the Starting XI vs. Australia as a defender. "I can’t explain what that felt like, to see [my family], to think back to the whole time I’ve been playing, now them getting to see me play live. It means so much to me.”

This moment took White back to being three years old, kicking a ball around Littleton, following in the footsteps of an American soccer hero.

“I have a few [players] that I look up to, but I would say Mia Hamm is my idol," said White. "I’ve always loved her and watching her play growing up.”

The major impact of having a game broadcast on national TV for the first time is that now White can be the "Mia" little girls look up to.

“It means we can inspire other deaf youth that are out there and don’t know about this team yet," she said. "They have the opportunity to see it and think, 'Oh I’m deaf, they’re deaf, I can play too.'”

"I hope that they look at our teammates, my team, and they can think that one of us could be a role model for them as well," said Spreeman.

Fellow Colorado native Sophia Smith was honored to share the weekend with such inspirational women.

“It’s so amazing," said Smith. "All of our national teams, we all share experiences that no one else can really understand. I think the more that we can connect with each other, support each other, build each other up, use our platforms in the best way possible. It’s really great.”

On the distant horizon looms the 2025 Deaflympics in Tokyo, Japan, but until then, actions speak louder than words, and the U.S. Deaf Women's National Team doesn't do anything quietly.

With the win over Australia, the Deaf WNT has gone a remarkable 38-0-1 in 39 all-time matches, outscoring its opponents 188-15.

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