Madison Hammond leads the way for young Native American girls to follow.
It’s 2020 and the NWSL finally has its first Native American player. Madison Hammond, a Navajo and San Felipe Pueblo woman, signed a contract with the OL Reign and made her debut on September 26 in the NWSL Fall Series match against the Utah Royals.
Madison Hammond was a dominant player in college, holding together the Wake Forest defensive line while contributing a handful of goals every now and then for good measure. Beyond her soccer prowess, she played violin in the Wake Forest orchestra, successfully juggling her multiple passions in order to continue doing what she loved and ensure she had a complete college experience.
Though she grew up in the southwest in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she moved away to Alexandria, Virginia at age 9, and felt like it was at Wake Forest that she was finally able to reconnect with her Native American roots. In an interview with Men In Blazers she explained,
I leaned back into our culture and just different beliefs that we have and making sure I’m really cognizant of acting those out in my day-to-day. You don’t realize how much strength you draw from your community that’s really far away from you.
Madison Hammond has progressed beyond being a Native American woman with soccer talent. She has risen to a national stage where her skill as an athlete coupled with her connection and involvement with her tribe and pride in her identity has made her an idol of sorts.
Representation matters. Young girls want to look to the pros and see someone they identify with, look like, or whose background or beliefs they share. As these young girls begin to have dreams about playing professionally one day, they want to have a player to look at and say, she made it so I can too.
Madison Hammond had no one. But now she can be that person for so many young Native American girls with soccer dreams. It’s a shame it took until 2020 for her to be the first, but she certainly won’t be the last.
In achieving her dreams she’s made history, inspiring many along the way. I look forward to following her successes on the soccer field as she continues to lead the way for those who are sure to follow.