Imagine stepping out onto a field knowing that the eyes of young girls across the country are on you. They’re expecting you to play your absolute best, win the game, and do it with confidence. Every time 27-year-old Alex Morgan puts on her uniform, she not only assumes the position of star forward of the US women’s national soccer team but also that of a role model for girls everywhere.
Morgan has been in the spotlight since age 21, when she played in the 2011 World Cup and was the youngest member U.S. women's national team. Since then she has gone on to win a World Cup title in 2015 and an Olympic gold medal in 2012, both as a part of the team. But in addition to her impressive success on the field, Morgan has left an impact on the sport in general. From advocating for gender income equality to posing in Sports Illustrated, the star is all about girl power. Scroll down to see the eight reasons why we love her.
1. She's fighting gender income inequality.
After attracting 25.4 million viewers to watch their World Cup victory in 2015, Morgan and her teammates used their newfound social platform to promote the #EqualPlayEqualPay campaign, which addresses gender discrimination in the US Soccer Federation. Despite the immense accomplishments of these professional female soccer players, they don't receive the same pay, travel accommodations, or playing conditions as their male counterparts—who, by the way, didn’t even qualify for this year's Rio Olympics. Morgan explained that this fight is for “all the little girls around the world who deserve the same respect as well as the boys. They deserve a voice, and if we as professional athletes don't leverage the voices we have, we are letting them down. We will not let them down.”
2. She's the author of a book series for young girls.
Morgan’s book series, The Kicks (starting at $6; amazon.com), is focused on inspiring young girls to never lose hope even when the going gets tough.
3. She's all about body positivity.
In 2012, Morgan posed for the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated in nothing but a body-paint bikini. She looked strong, beautiful and confident. Her goal of this photo shoot, she said, was "to help young women feel comfortable in whatever body type they were given."
4. She's not afraid to play #LikeAGirl.
Morgan is the spokesperson for Always's #LikeAGirl campaign, which encourages young women to break the stereotype of playing like a girl on and off the field. The World Cup champion knows exactly what it’s like to grow up in a society where girls are discouraged from playing sports with the same intensity as boys. She’s definitely proven that whatever a boy can do, a girl can do even better!
5. She never gives up.
Morgan came back better than ever after a knee injury that halted her time on the field before the 2015 World Cup. The Olympic gold medalist shared to her 3.9 million Instagram followers that her time in recovery was not time off and that she had to “put in a lot of work off the field” too.
6. She loves to support a good cause.
Morgan uses her soccer skills not only to win championships but also to raise money for organizations like Soccer Across America, geared toward making soccer training accessible to young kids around the country.
7. She knows what it means to be a part of a team.
Morgan may be a star on the US women’s national team, but she is aware that without the combined efforts of her teammates they wouldn’t be the reigning world champs. She values what everyone brings on the field, and as a result she acts as a uniting force. And, as you can see, nothing can beat Alex Morgan’s #girlsquad!
8. She's ready to change women's soccer.
Morgan’s success has come fast—and with all of these achievements come the responsibility to be a role model. She told ESPNw, “When you are asked to play a certain role on a team or in a league, you want to do it for the development of the women's game here.” Instead of shying away from the spotlight, she views her role in the soccer world as an opportunity to inspire young girls that they can too change the face of the women’s soccer.