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Burlington Girls Soccer Team's Stand For Equal Pay Resonates Nationally

Burlington High School soccer player and freshman Lydia Sheeser holds out the jerseys her mom, Jessica Nordhaus, helped the team make and use to raise awareness about the wage gap between men and women.
Elodie Reed
/
VPR
Burlington High School soccer player and freshman Lydia Sheeser holds out the jerseys her mom, Jessica Nordhaus, helped the team make and use to raise awareness about the wage gap between men and women.

This past October, some members of the Burlington girls' high school soccer team welcomed the yellow cards they got when they scored a go-ahead goal and celebrated by removing their playing field jerseys to reveal T-shirts underneath printed with the words "#EqualPay."

The moment caught people's attention across the country. The team got mentions in Sports Illustrated and nods from soccer stars like Brandi Chastain, who 20 years ago took off her shirt quite famously as she celebrated a goal. Before their game and protest this past fall, VPR's Mitch Wertlieb had spoken with Jessica Nordhaus, the director of Strategy and Partnerships for Change the Story VT, a non-profit that works to address wage gaps and promote economic opportunities for women in Vermont. She's also the mother of a freshman on the team. Nordhaus' group helped get those T-shirts made.

Mitch spoke up with Nordhaus again for a follow-up conversation, and they were joined by Burlington High School senior Klara Martone, the goaltender for the Burlington Seahorses.

"We have sold 5,000 #EqualPay jerseys," Nordhaus said. "One thing I love about this campaign is that the team has been talking not just about soccer, and about the U.S. women's national team efforts to achieve equal pay, but about equal pay on and off the field."

Martone spoke about why the issue of equal pay was so important to the team.

"[Equal pay] was really an issue that was close to home, and very important for a lot of women in our school and of our age range to know about and to be informed about before we start making financial decisions and going into the real world." - Klara Martone, BHS goaltender

"Even without any of the coverage that we've received, it's really important that we have a good number of seniors this year that are going to be independent next year and joining the workforce very soon," she said. "So it was really an issue that was close to home, and very important for a lot of women in our school and of our age range to know about and to be informed about before we start making financial decisions and going into the real world."

And despite capturing national headlines, the moment that stood out the most to Martone was during the game when the team first took off their jerseys.

"I think the best moment was when we were in the middle of the field getting yellow carded," she said. "Everybody, there was just an uproar in the crowd and you could hear them chanting 'equal pay.' It never occurred to me that it would go anywhere, but just in my life it was such a huge moment."

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