Historically black and proud | At Spelman, women’s soccer pushes beyond expectation

The 2007 season concluded in similar fashion to the previous year. That is, Spelman (11-7-1 overall, 8-3-1 GSAC) defeated Agnes Scott (12-7-1, 8-3-1), 2–1, in the conference semifinals on Nov 2. Spelman lost the final 0–3 to Maryville the following day.

We attended the first meeting of the 2007 season on Sept 21, with the two sides concluding a hotly contested 110-minute derby match at 0–0. (Spelman defeated ASC 1–0, in overtime, in a second meeting on Oct 27.) Neither side could earn a breakthrough, although Spelman striker Tyra Weaver left-footed a goal in the 27th minute that was judged offside, and twice Spelman players missed close chances in the second 10-minute overtime.

“I hope that’s a wake-up call that that went in,” an Agnes Scott player yelled after the offside goal in a match that took place at Gellerstedt Field at Agnes Scott, although Spelman was the home team. Vandalism to the water system at Herndon Stadium in southeast Atlanta, where Spelman had played its games, brought about the shift in location.

Physical challenges were the order of the day. Three Agnes Scott players were injured; two had to be substituted. Agnes Scott coach Joe Bergin earned a caution in the second half for protesting one Spelman challenge. “That’s terrible!” he yelled at the referee. “You can book me all you want!”

Division III women’s soccer affords the opportunity to hear such dissent and encouragement from the sidelines. Also in the second half, a supporter yelled to Agnes Scott junior striker Ashley Schmidt, “Ashley, your tag’s sticking out!” Schmidt checked the tag at the back of her shorts and shrugged.

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5 comments on this post.
  1. Ido Jamar:

    This was a great article and interview. Thanks for highlighting the hard work of the Spelman women’s soccer family.

    I just want to add a little background information to what Rabi said—the soccer family that Rabi referred to was Leroy Hodge and Dana Schumacher. Their daughters are Melantha, Mandela—who was a freshman starter at North Carolina State—and Marisha—who now plays for Boston University and has been nominated for a major award as a sophomore. The girls are phenomenal players, and all four years that Rabi played high school soccer at Schenley, there were one or two of the Schumacher-Hodge sisters on the team with her. The school won the city championship each year over the traditional champs, Alderdice. Her senior year, the Schenley girls (Marisha was the star forward on the team and one of the region’s highest scorers) also won the first game in the regionals. I think this was a first for the women’s team.

    The Schumacher-Hodge family did a lot for African Americans and soccer in Pittsburgh. They were involved in Soccer in the Streets, Dynamo Soccer (the city recreation and travel League—Dana was the commissioner for many years) and encouraged African Americans to get involved in soccer at all levels including the Olympic-development program and other club teams.

    Before his recent untimely death, Leroy Hodge started a women’s soccer program at Westinghouse High School, a Pittsburgh high school with a student population that is 99 percent African American. It’s a great sport and has done a lot for many women.

    Ido Jamar, proud mom of Rabi Jamar

  2. Geneva Hamilton:

    Outstanding article. President Beverly Daniel Tatum and the entire Spelman College family should be very proud of these three.

    The college was very well represented in this interview with Coach George and co-captains Ashley Hamilton and Rabi Jamar. They clearly articulated their passion for the sport of soccer as well as their dedication and pride in representing Spelman. It was wonderful to hear of the college demonstrating its mutual pride in Coach George and Hamilton and Jamar by displaying this article on their website for all of us to see and hear. Because most of the students are away from home, the support they get from their college family is vital.

    So thank you President Tatum and thanks to the entire Spelman College family for your show of love and support of our daughters by displaying this interview on your website. Bravo!

    Geneva Hamilton, MBA
    Proud mother of Ashley Hamilton

  3. Rocko Beatz:

    Even though this article is a year old it’s still new to me. I have a six-year-old daughter that has just started playing soccer. I was looking for a little inspiration for her so I was just looking, but this was a great article. I’m glad that more blacks are trying different things such as soccer, golf and tennis, sports previously dominated by whites.

  4. The Global Game | Sarah Palin, ‘soccer mom’ at a new frontier:

    [...] see our earlier report on the development of the soccer program at Spelman College in Atlanta (23 Aug 07). Tags: Alaska, Barack Obama, basketball, hockey moms, ice hockey, John McCain, Jonathan Raban, [...]

  5. Karen:

    This was such a phenomenal article! I found it because I am looking for young black African Americans in soccer to create a well-deserved blog. If someone can give me a little more info on these girls and any other up-and-coming young soccer players I would greatly appreciate it. These girls need as much exposure as their Caucasian colleagues.

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