Member spotlight: Meet Courtney
Courtney Levinsohn: Sports psychologist, executive producer of Coach, and why we’re all here…the founder of Women in Soccer!
Catch phrase/mantra/ word: Go beyond!
What’s your favorite soccer memory?
My favorite memory—or maybe most satisfying—was sinking a set piece from a free-kick against a big rival.
Big rival…? I’m intrigued! Can we name names?
(Laughs) Okay, okay —Stanford, 1997. It was actually a funny rivalry because honestly, they dominated us. For me to even say I was so happy I sank that goal is kind of sweet. Stanford would be like, “Aww that’s cute! We’re happy it meant so much to you, scoring against us.” Meanwhile, they’d probably be about five goals up—but that didn’t matter! They just were not expecting a goal like that. That moment was a huge personal triumph.
What do you think is the greatest thing about women’s soccer?
The atmosphere of women’s soccer is unique because soccer culture has never presented the game as an area women can excel in. Only four percent of all sports media coverage goes to women’s sports—isn’t that crazy? As a result, there’s a lack of sponsorship money, a problem with access, and mainstream popularity. Men don’t face those gendered obstacles, but the result of them is that women don’t bring ego to the game. They bring 90 minutes of their authentic selves…and it’s raw determination!
What inspires you even when things are tough?
I really lean into things that celebrate the spirit of the game. For instance, watching the women’s championship games are so uplifting because it’s a huge reminder of how far we’ve come. Watching Lyon and Bayern Munich play in such an epic final this past summer was so joyful to me. It’s incredible to see talented women who have been respected as athletes and invested in.
Tell us about a soccer (or general sports) organization doing work for women and underrepresented communities that you admire.
South Bronx United and Rooklyn International Football Association (RIFA). These organizations are providing resources for their players as well as their greater soccer community. In many cases, this involves providing the positive outlet of soccer in addition to legal aid that supports undocumented people and refugee children. Also, I really admire the model that Brooklyn City F.C. has to support its community. Brooklyn City F.C. runs a youth soccer club that can progress girls into top adult leagues in one single pathway. That stops girls from falling out of the soccer community at a transitional phase in their lives, and that’s so important.
Oh, and one more…can I mention another? Yeah, let’s hear it!
Goleadoras! The organization has supported tens of thousands of girls through soccer programs in Latin America. They teach leadership skills to young women from under-resourced communities to help them excel in the game. I mean, the research is there, the correlation between engaging in sports and going on to lead in a professional field is so strong. I’d say all of these organizations carry the same thread of trying to support and empower diverse communities. That’s something I believe in so much. Women in Soccer isn’t here to further a “certain type” of woman. WIS is here for all of us.
What experiences and strengths do you have that inspired you to start Women in Soccer? I think making the movie Coach. The experience allowed me to take control of my expertise in the sporting space and use it to work on solutions to gendered barriers that keep women out of soccer. During screenings, we heard how other women saw themselves in the movie and related to Tracy Hamm pushing against gender barriers alone. Connecting women through WIS is an action against the isolating feeling of gender bias in the soccer industry and beyond.
What makes you excited about WIS?
Duh…hanging out with more women in soccer!
(Laughs) I know, they’re always the best.
It’s gonna be a lot of fun! But seriously, what makes me excited about Women in Soccer? Right now is a special time because there are a lot of people out there who are looking to organize and create positive change. The toxic elements of soccer culture like the lack of visibility women have in the space are things we can actually get rid of if we’re organized about it. Women in Soccer is going to unify all these fragmented groups of changemakers and, with our collective impact, we’ll leave soccer culture much better than we found it.
WIS member spotlights are conducted and written by our content producer, Pip Penman.