U.S. Soccer Community Programs, Presented By Allstate, Aim To Drive Local Impact In Columbus, Ohio Around USMNT’s World Cup Qualifier Vs. El SalvadorPrograms Come as Part of “One Nation” Platform Designed to Further Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging
CHICAGO (Jan. 25, 2022) – As the U.S. Men’s National Team returns to World Cup qualifying this week, a series of U.S. Soccer community programs, presented by Allstate, will take place around USA-El Salvador in Columbus, Ohio.
The community engagement initiatives come as part of U.S. Soccer’s “One Nation” social responsibility platform, which seeks to drive positive impact in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
ONE NATION GAME AMBASSADORS
U.S. Soccer will recognize two Game Ambassadors in Columbus - Ohio Blind Soccer coach Katie Smith and former USMNT forward Dante Washington, who currently works as the Columbus Crew’s Director of Team Strategic Partnerships and Business Development. Game Ambassadors are selected for their impact in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.
Smith launched Ohio Blind Soccer after attending a camp with the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes. Bringing the sport to Columbus, the program has grown from one athlete to eight adults, a youth program and a program at the Ohio State School for the Blind. Smith has helped push the game’s growth in Ohio and has coached several development camps and clinics across the United States with an eye towards the Paralympics in 2028.
Washington spent six seasons with the Crew and earned six caps with the USMNT during his playing career. Now, he leads the club’s youth player development outreach, alumni relations and mentorship program for Crew academy players. His work also sees him seeking out business opportunities to connect with the Columbus community.
U.S. Soccer honored its first series of Game Ambassadors during the USMNT and U.S. Women’s National Team’s matches in June 2021. During the November World Cup qualifying window, U.S. Soccer recognized social media dream builder Charlie “Rocket” Jabaley, whose “Dream Machine Tour” travels around the country helping hundreds of people to live their dreams.
ONE NATION COMMUNITY YOUTH PROGRAM
Together with the Columbus Crew, U.S. Soccer hosted its One Nation Community Youth Program - a virtual sports industry career panel designed to inspire local young adults to dream big and pursue their goals. The program was held on Tuesday, Jan. 25, aiming to demonstrate to high school students from Columbus City Schools that they can achieve great things no matter their background, with the goal to broaden career horizons and build professional skills.
The Community Youth Program career panel featured a diverse slate of sports industry professionals working in Columbus across a variety of off-the-field functions:
Kristen Bernert - President of Business Operations, Columbus Crew
Ilyanna Gutierrez - Manager, Media and Broadcast Operations, U.S. Soccer
Mary Teeter - Senior Director of Development, U.S. Soccer
RJ Reed - Senior Manager, Corporate Partnerships, Columbus Blue Jackets
Dante Washington -Director of Team Strategic Partnerships and Business Development, Columbus Crew
U.S. Soccer is partnering with KultureCity to make the gameday experience sensory inclusive. KultureCity is a leading non-profit recognized nationwide for using its resources to revolutionize and affect change in the community for those with sensory needs, not just those with autism. In an effort to enhance their gameday experience, fans with sensory needs will be able to check out sensory bags at no cost during the match.
U.S. Soccer has also partnered with Vote.org to drive voter registration for important state and local elections, highlighting the initiative with in-game video board graphics and stadium announcements.