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Fighting for gold—and equality

Former UMass soccer star Briana Scurry triumphs against the odds 

If you’re a women’s soccer fan, the name Briana Scurry is likely to ring a bell. Scurry studied at UMass in the early 90s and is known as one of the best soccer players ever to play here, being named all-America and Adidas Goalkeeper of the Year in 1993. As goalie for the U.S. women’s soccer team, Scurry helped secure a World Cup win in 1999 and went on to win two Olympic gold medals. And she believes she’s the only Black, lesbian goalkeeper to grace the cover of a Wheaties box. She recently sat down with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air to share more about her training, career, and new book, My Greatest Save

TERRY GROSS: So there’s a photo of you in the Smithsonian African American Museum of History and Culture. That would be meaningful to anyone who is in it. But is it especially meaningful to you because for so long, like, you were the only Black athlete on the soccer teams that you played on because soccer in the U.S. has been so associated with it being a white sport? 

SCURRY: Absolutely. I didn’t know that my body of work on and off the pitch was having that big of an effect on the African American community. And so when we finally did speak to the curator, I was so humbled and so thrilled to be honored, to be in the same building as Oprah Winfrey, as Rosa Parks, Tiger Woods, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King. I didn’t really think that my contribution was necessarily going to be worthy of that type of honor. 

And then when I spoke to them, they wanted me to be the Title IX example for the “Title IX” exhibit within the “Game Changers” exhibit at the museum. And I was more than honored and thrilled to do so. So in that “Game Changers” exhibit is the jersey that I wore for the Women’s World Cup that I made that penalty kick save in. That is the actual jersey in that exhibit. 

Listen to the full interview, and make sure to also check out Scurry’s book, My Greatest Save, and her documentary, The Only, on Paramount Plus.