SAN DIEGO (March 18, 2023) – The U.S. Soccer Membership approved a range of appointments and proposals during today’s National Council Meeting at the 2023 U.S. Soccer Annual General Meeting (AGM).
Throughout the AGM, which was held from March 15-17 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront in San Diego, U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone and CEO JT Batson emphasized the Federation’s focus to align and work closely with its entire membership to grow the game in the United States.
“The energy around the last couple of days has been palpable,” said U.S. Soccer CEO JT Batson. “There’s a lot of excitement and positive momentum. We had a great Board meeting, we’ve had great committee meetings. There’s excitement and belief in the positive direction where soccer is headed in this country and specifically where U.S. Soccer is headed and our focus on membership from the grassroots, youth and adult levels all the way to the pros and all of our National Team programs.”
With an unprecedented ramp of opportunity to grow soccer in the United States over the next few years that includes the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2024 Copa America which will be hosted in the United States, the 2024 Olympic Games, and the 2026 FIFA World Cup which will be co-hosted in the U.S., the meeting largely focused on ways to elevate the voice of U.S. Soccer’s members across the entire ecosystem to increase participation at all levels.
The meeting also focused on Participant Safety and U.S. Soccer’s vision for Safe Soccer, which in collaboration with its membership would introduce a transition from a red-light approach to a green-light approach. Rather than reprimanding bad actors after an incident, all participants -- including coaches, referees, etc. -- would have to be cleared prior to becoming involved in the sport at any level.
Earlier in the day, the Athlete’s Council held their elections, determining that Chris Ahrens will serve as Athletes’ Council Chair, while Cassidy Leake was elected to serve as Athlete representatives Vice Chair with a 2025 term. Danielle Slaton, Oguchi Onyewu, and Whitney Engen were elected to serve as Athlete representatives Vice Chairs with a 2027 term.
This evening during the AGM Awards Dinner, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, Janeicia Neely and Lesle Gallimore received the Werner Fricker Builder Award, the Kim Crabbe Game Changers Award, and the Carla Overbeck Leadership Award, respectively.
DON GARBER EARNS WERNER FRICKER BUILDER AWARD
Garber received the 2022 Werner Fricker Builder Award, which is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon an individual by U.S. Soccer. Garber has served as the league’s commissioner since 1999 and has played a crucial role in growing the sport in North America during his tenure. Garber originally earned the honor in 2022 but deferred to 2023.
Throughout Garber’s 24-year tenure, MLS has expanded from 10 to 29 clubs, added new, diverse owners and secured long-term agreements with major broadcast outlets in the U.S. and throughout the world. Garber has also led efforts to develop 26 soccer-specific stadiums in the United States and Canada, with more set to open in the next few years.
JANEICIA NEELY EARNS THE INAUGURAL KIM CRABBE GAME CHANGERS AWARD
Janeicia Neely earned the inaugural Kim Crabbe Game Changers Award. Established by Game Changers United – U.S. Soccer’s external Advisory Council focused on advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) across all areas of American soccer – the award is given to a member of the soccer community who has made a lasting impact in the areas of DEIB in a creative way while fostering long-term sustainability for the future of soccer.
Neely is the Executive Director for The 18th Ward, where she designs and manages 12 different youth development programs and leads the organization’s efforts. In 2023, the program created over 4,000 opportunities for youth players.
Neely trains over 100 high school and college students to lead each program. She was awarded the 2021 Up2Us Sports National Coach of the Year Award and was the New Orleans Pelicans 2022 Jr. NBA Coach of the Year. She’s a graduate and Hall of Fame inductee of Loyola University and a former professional basketball player in Portugal and Switzerland.
The award is named after Kim Crabbe, a pioneer in women’s soccer who became the first African American woman to play for the USWNT in 1986.
LESLE GALLIMORE NAMED FIRST-EVER CARLA OVERBECK LEADERSHIP AWARD RECIPIENT
An American soccer coach, educator, mentor and inspirational leader who has dedicated her life to the sport, Lesle Gallimore was named the first-ever recipient of the Carla Overbeck Leadership Award. The honor is given to an individual who demonstrates a unique ability to lead and guide others and who contributes to the success of an initiative that benefits those outside their own organization and places emphasis on collaboration within and among leadership.
In June 2002, Gallimore was appointed the first ever-Commissioner of the Girls Academy. Prior to that, she coached the women's soccer program at the University of Washington and retired as the winningest coach in program history. Gallimore has also been in involved in the Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative, a group which led soccer clinics and leadership training sessions for young female coaches from Morocco, Tunisia and Libya.
The award is named after former USWNT captain and National Soccer Hall of Famer Carla Overbeck. Overbeck led the 1996 Gold Medal Olympic Team and the 1999 World Cup Championship Team, and has been lauded for her leadership by former teammates and coaches. She continues to lead with over thirty (30) years of experience as a college coach at Duke University.
National Council Meeting Updates
- Following a vote, Down Syndrome Sports of America was admitted to full membership as a Disability Service Organization.
- Following a majority vote, the proposed U.S. Soccer FY ’24 budget was approved.
- The National Council approved the addition of Bill Bosgraaf and Kevin Payne as Life Members.
- Juan Uro was unanimously approved by the Nominating and Governance Committee to serve another term as an Independent Director on the U.S. Soccer Board of Directors.
- The proposed amendment to Bylaw 412 was adopted after earning the minimum two-thirds vote in the affirmative. The amendment changes the composition of the Board by making the Vice President non-voting.
- Several Bylaw amendments were adopted related to Youth and Adult governance, adding responsibilities and requiring the establishment of an annual meeting date for each council.
The next U.S. Soccer Annual General Meeting will take place in Dallas from February 8-11, 2024.