CHICAGO (May 4, 2022) -- Fifteen-year-old Lexi Polinder has been voted the winner of the 2022 SheBelieves Hero™ contest. Polinder is a strong advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Her work with Sophie’s Squad, a nonprofit organization founded in 2021 whose main focus is to improve the mental health of athletes, is just one of many ways she embodies the SheBelieves Spirit.
Polinder started her own Suicide Awareness Chapter at her high school in St. Cloud, Minn. to encourage students to understand that it’s okay to openly communicate about their mental health. Along with her community involvement, Polinder hand-makes and sells bracelets to raise money for suicide prevention. As the winner of this year’s contest, she will receive complimentary travel, tickets, and a VIP experience to one of the U.S. Women’s National Team matches this coming June.
The SheBelieves Hero™ Selection Committee, comprised of Women’s World Cup and Olympic-experienced players Stephanie Cox, Leslie Osborne and Siri Mullinix, narrowed down the large field of impressive submissions to the five finalists. The other four finalists, all of whom embody the SheBelieves spirit and feature inspiring stories, were: Sophia Saludares, Lexi Stranutu, Hana Gonzales, and Sadie Goodman. U.S. Soccer applauds all the finalists and all those who participated for the incredible work they are doing to make a positive impact in their communities.
The finalists’ stories were shared via social media and the general public was asked to vote on who best embodied the SheBelieves spirit, which is defined as a leader in their community, a confident and passionate individual who empowers others around them and who works to make a positive difference in the world. Public votes counted for 50 percent of the weighted total with the panelists’ scores accounting for the other 50 percent.
SheBelieves is a movement created to inspire and encourage girls and women of all ages to accomplish their goals and dreams, athletic or otherwise. The campaign was originally launched in the run-up to the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup but has since evolved into a special bond between the team and its fans, taking its powerful message of empowerment and that of believing in yourself into communities across the nation.
The past winners of the SheBelieves Hero contest are: Ella Bard (2021), Semahj Ware (2020), McKenna Woodhead (2019), Hollis Belger (2018) and Danielle Bosland (2017).