Girls Soccer Team Was Penalized for Their ‘Equal Pay’ Shirts — Now Their Message Is Being Celebrated

BURLINGTON, V.T. — When a girl’s high school varsity soccer team in Vermont played a game wearing matching shirts emblazoned with a bold message hidden under their jerseys, they fully expected to be heard.

But just how far their message would reach was a surprise to them all.

With three minutes left in the match on Friday, Burlington High School Seahorses captain Helen Worden, 17, scored a goal, putting her team ahead of the South Burlington Wolves.

As fans erupted in celebration, the Seahorses excitedly ran toward the stands to bask in the glory.

That’s when four players peeled off their jerseys to reveal the hidden message: #EQUALPAY.

The move resulted in all four players being penalized with a yellow card from the referee, though the crowd didn’t seem to mind.

“The refs issued yellow cards to those four, at which point the crowd started to chant ‘Equal pay! Equal pay!’ just like in the Women’s World Cup this summer,” teammate Lydia Sheeser, 14, told CNN.

Vermont’s athletic rules don’t allow players to wear clothing that displays slogans, the high school freshman said.

Inspired by the USWNT

Lydia said the girls were inspired by the US women’s national soccer team (USWNT) and “their efforts to achieve equal pay for equal play.”

The US national team, which won the Women’s World Cup in July, has been outspoken about a range of rights issues, including the gender wage gap in sports. After their 2-0 victory over the Netherlands, the crowd chanted: “Equal pay!”

The pay disparity extends to the World Cup. In the 2019 tournament, the prize money was $30 million for all teams with $4 million going to the eventual US champion. Meanwhile, the prize for the 2018 men’s World Cup was $400 million, with tournament champions France receiving $38 million.

Frustrated with the disparity, both on and off the field, the Seahorses partnered with Change The Story, an organization that says it works to “fast-track women’s economic well-being in Vermont.”

Together, they created the shirts, which they’re now selling for $25. Men are invited to pay an additional 16% ($4) to represent the wage gap, said Maia Vota, 18, a Seahorses co-captain.

“So right now, in Vermont, the wage gap is $0.16, which means that women earn $0.84 to the dollar that the men do on average,” said Jessica Nordhaus, Lydia’s mom and a member of Change the Story, in a video about the partnership.

“We’re working to close that … so that when VHS girls soccer players are out in the world working full-time, they will be making equal pay for equal work.”

Celebrating the girls’ message

The teammates told CNN the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Community members, including their school’s staff and student body, have purchased the shirts. Even the boys soccer team has started wearing them.

So far, the girls have received more than 1,000 orders.

Word of their bold statement has even reached a women’s soccer superstar.

Former USWNT player Brandi Chastain, an Olympic and World Cup winner, tweeted her support on Saturday.

“Thank you @bhsgirlssoccer for standing up, celebrating and taking your jerseys off for #equalpay,” Chastain said. “Proud of you!”

Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont also expressed his support for the girls, posting a photo on Twitter of he and his wife wearing the shirts.

“Marcelle and I stand with you!” Leahy said.

Jeff Hayes, the team’s coach, said he’s thrilled with his players’ passion: “I am so proud of this team on what they have done on and off the field.”

As for the penalty they received on Friday night, the girls say they’re over it. The game ended in a tie.

“We were frustrated at the time because we felt like our actions were appropriate for the moment,” said co-captain Maggie Barlow, 17. “In the end, the most important thing is the message we’re sending.”

In fact, after the game, a referee who penalized the players ordered one of the shirts.

“He told us he was looking forward to wearing it,” Helen said.



    Whatever happened to just taking to a field or stage and just playing a game or doing a performance where people can gain an appreciation of the craft you so trained for?

    Nope – (almost) everyone wants their five minutes of fame to push their SJW agenda, to see how much more people will still tolerate.

  • Mopar Driver (@RustyMopars)

    Liberal agendas don’t work . Time to be Valuable is not in High School sport , but to excel in a chosen profession if your after money then choose accordingly . Should I be upset the female strippers make so much (and don’t report it) So , big deal and the fool exhibition cost the other teammates the game through no fault of their own .

  • not_pennysltucky (@ds18301)

    1) We see the perfect definition of a “snowflake” here: (presumably) grown men crying in utter fear of a high school (girls) soccer team — priceless!!!…… 2) There *is* a huge pay gap in the USA — it may not exist on Fox/Breitbart etc. But (and WNEP does not allow links) please google the recent Forbes article (a right-wing but journalistic source: “3 Ways The Gender Pay Gap Is Even Bigger Than You Think”). It is long article with real references, citations and verified figures, so I doubt the “usual suspects” here would ever read it. Facts are too troublesome — even when it comes from a right-wing source……… 3) Mr Brony: as to: “Any means to divide and distract instead of unite and focus.” One must then conclude that you have utter disdain for trump: you have absolutely and perfectly described his modus operendi — pick a tweet — any tweet.


      Ah, herein lies the debacle. You view it as division, a great many others view it as exposing the weakness and desperation of the left. Our (yes, I said ‘our’ – as in everyone) President simply points out the lunacy of the zealot liberals – how the simplest of tweets can send someone with TDS over the edge. You people can’t just simply disagree, you need to regurgitate your rhetoric and yell RACIST – XENOPHOBE – HITLER at every opportunity. I support and respect our Presidency and what it stands for. Did it when Clinton and Obama were in office too. I didn’t vote for either and didn’t/don’t support their policy, but I respected the office and their position. I guess that’s the difference between you and I.


    Liberal/Socialist/Communist mantra: Any means to divide and distract instead of unite and focus.

    A divided and distracted enemy is a defeated enemy.


  • straubdavid9

    Geez, is this still a thing …. I thought the “pay-gap” meme was debunked years ago. Why do these things keep on resurfacing time and time again? Doesn’t anyone read anymore. or do they just read things that adhere to their bias? You can say the earth is flat until you are blue in the face, and even get a consensus …… it still won’t make it true. Oh I agree 100% in the equal pay for EQUAL work!


      Wait a minute – you mean the earth isn’t flat?

      Some of those flat-earthers have some pretty convincing arguements… 🙄😂🤣😂🤣

  • Rich Wickizer

    Equal pay for equal work is fine. But, that means no special treatment for women, no special leave for women, no lighter workload for women, etc… Any and all of these things mean they get paid more then a man for the same job.

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