Burlington High School girls varsity soccer team before Friday's game
The Burlington High School girls soccer team and its #EqualPay jerseys have gone viral. They've been featured on ABC's "Good Morning America" and in the news on NBC, CBS and CNN, and even in Britain's Daily Mail — all since Friday night.
“It is unreal," co-captain Helen Worden, a 17-year-old senior, said on Monday. "It's just out of this world.”
The publicity blitz began after refs yellow-carded Worden and three other players for wearing #EqualPay jerseys during a home game Friday evening at the high school. The display violated regulations that state only official team jerseys can be worn during games.
The Burlington Free Press reported on the sanction and publicity spread, as did tweets of praise from women's soccer greats, including World Cup and Olympic champion Brandi Chastain:
Worden led the creation of the jersey fundraiser to promote wage parity after attending a United States women's soccer World Cup game in France in July. She watched as thousands of people in the stadium chanted "Equal Pay!" in solidarity with that team's campaign to bring women's soccer pay up to men's.
Inspired, Worden brought the idea of an equal pay campaign back to her high school team. "I was like, 'we should do this,'" she said. "And everyone was like, 'yeah.'"
The team partnered with Change the Story, a Vermont initiative to erase the gender wage gap. A jersey sale campaign was born.
With the publicity, sales have soared. After the "Good Morning America" story aired Sunday morning, supporters placed 500 orders, some for multiple jerseys. In just 24 hours, the buying spree generated about $20,000. As of Monday afternoon, the team had sold 2,000 jerseys to people in 38 states.
They cost $25, but males are asked for an extra $4.80 — a 16 percent extra donation that represents the wage gap in Vermont. Proceeds, about $30,000 so far, will go to the Greater Burlington Girls Soccer League, where many of the high school team's players first learned how to dribble and pass.
Worden also helped create the current #SeahorseMediaSensation.
The center midfielder scored a goal from 20 yards out with three minutes left to go in Friday's game, the last one of the regular season, giving her team a 1-0 edge.
Elated, Worden peeled off her regular team jersey to show off one of the white #EqualPay jerseys that the entire team wore as an under-layer that day.
Aware of the rules, the team had planned before the game to just lift their blue team jerseys, but not take them off, to promote the #EqualPay jerseys if they scored. But Worden deviated from the plan. "I ripped it off and ran to the stands because I was so excited.”
Many fans chanted "Equal Pay!"
South Burlington scored a tying goal. The game was still tied after two overtime periods.
BHS ended the season with a 9-4-1 record and many new fans, including at least one member of the opposing team.
BHS varsity girls soccer co-captains Helen Worden (left), Maia Vota (center) and Maggie Barlow (right).
The BHS girls were selling T-shirts at the game. “One of the [South Burlington] girls after the game bought one," Worden said, "and her mom as well.”
To learn more about the campaign and purchase a jersey online, go to this website.