Member Spotlight: Meet Yewande

Yewande Balogun @yewandeful

Assistant coach with UC Davis women’s soccer

Pronouns: She/her/hers  

Motto: “You either win or you learn; you only lose when you stop moving.”

What’s your favorite soccer memory? 

Oh, that’s gotta be the first time my team Maryland beat UNC on their home turf! It was so special to me since I chose to go to Maryland (a team that didn’t have top recognition yet) because I wanted to make a difference and have an impact on the club. That win was the first of its kind in Maryland’s history and really made me feel like a changemaker! 

What do you think is the greatest thing about women’s soccer? 

Honestly, for me as a young girl, it was all about “anything you can do I can do better”—I grew up playing with three brothers. Once I was older, I realized the empowerment I feel from playing soccer as a woman comes from the way we step into a male-dominated field and prove we can be strong leaders. That’s so powerful, right?!

Yup, we’re superheroes! What inspires you even when things are tough? 

My parents. They migrated to America in the early ‘80s to have a better life for themselves and their children, and when times are hard I think about all the things they had to sacrifice and go through for their kids. It makes me feel like I have no choice but to make it, even during tough times. I want to succeed in all I do, not just for myself, but for them.

Your parents sound incredible, thanks for sharing this with us. Tell us about a sports organization doing work for women that you admire.

The Women’s Sports Foundation. I love that this organization supports young women across every sport. Their advocacy is really multi-faceted. They do everything from sponsoring girl-serving sports organizations to research programs that investigate Title IX violations. 

Tell us what experiences and strengths brought you to the WIS team? 

Aw man, I don’t really know… 

(Laughs) You don’t need modesty at WIS, women play themselves down too much!

(Laughs) You’re right, okay, my strengths…in my coaching experience so far I’ve worked with many different groups of people, and I think that’s a great strength. Working with people who have diverse perspectives on soccer culture and the way they want to play the game is a huge plus for me as a coach. 

Also, Covid, the murder of George Floyd, and the protests that followed motivated me to speak out against racial injustice in different spaces. There are so many layers to this type of oppression that I decided to speak out about my own personal experiences as a Black woman within coaching—there aren’t many of us. I think being super vocal on topics of injustice and more people hearing and seeing me is what prompted WIS to be like, hey come on board! 

We hear you and we’re with you! What impact do you think connecting more women and allies will have on equity within soccer?    

Normalizing women in sports! Normalizing women in positions of power in sports! 

Yes, Yewande! 

The more visibility we create for women who lead in sports, the more interest we will get for women to take up these roles. I think the WIS platform is an ideal space to generate this visibility. 

What makes you excited about WIS?

Really, I’m just so excited to have the opportunity to give back to the game that’s given so much to me. Soccer has shaped my life in so many ways that I can barely comprehend it sometimes. I got into coaching because I’m determined to make the culture of soccer more inclusive to all the women that come after me. 

WIS member spotlights are conducted and written by our content producer Pip Penman.