Fitness Firsts: Gold Medalist Briana Scurry, First Black Woman Elected Into National Soccer Hall Of Fame
For Women’s History month, we are excited to take the time out to celebrate the trailblazing accomplishments of Black women in sports. Without them, doors wouldn’t have been opened to allow some of the greatest names in all of sports, woman and man alike, to compete and make their mark.
When you think about women and soccer, your first thought is probably of a white woman. The Mia Hamms and Brandi Chastains of the world (maybe the controversial Hope Solos, too). But someone who truly made history that you should know about is Briana Scurry. Listed as number 14 out of 20 on The Guardian‘s list of the greatest women soccer players ever, Scurry was a goalie who made some very important saves throughout her career as part of the U.S. Women’s soccer team. She is one of the few women of color to stand out in the sport. Now retired, she was recently picked to be the first assistant coach of the Washington Spirit professional soccer club and is in a number of hall of fames. She played from 1986 to 2010. Check out five things you should know about this trailblazing athlete.
She actually loves basketball most.
Briana Colette Scurry, who was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the youngest kid of nine children, having five sisters and three brothers. She stood out from the pack, excelling in sports, including track, softball, basketball and soccer. Basketball was actually the first sport she was drawn to and was passionate about, but it was soccer that she excelled most in, helping her high school win a state championship in 1989. She was later named a High School All American and crowned Minnesota’s best female athlete. She would eventually be inducted into Minnesota’s State High School Hall of Fame.
She’s a founding member of the first professional soccer league to pay women.
Scurry was a founding player for the Women’s United Soccer Association. It was the first league, in the world that is, to pay women soccer players professionally. She held down the goal for the Atlanta Beat for three seasons.
She played every minute of the U.S. women’s national teams’ appearances at 1996 Olympics and 1999 World Cup.
Those who remember Scurry most have fond memories of her game-changing saves during the 1996 Summer Olympics, where the U.S. women’s national team won gold. She was the only player on that team to start in and play every minute of the U.S. team’s five matches. She also played every minute of the team’s appearance at the 1999 Women’s World Cup.
She’s the first Black woman elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
In 2017, Scurry became the first Black woman to be inducted, or “elected” into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. She would also end up being the first woman goalkeeper as well to receive such an honor. Scurry said of her accolade to U.S. Soccer, “It’s a fantastic honor to be inducted to the Hall of Fame. I remember watching the Olympics on the couch with my parents at 8 years old, dreaming of becoming an Olympian myself. It was with their help – and that of my coaches, teammates and countless others – that I was blessed to not only become an Olympian, but an Olympic and World Cup champion.”
She survived a brain injury while playing the sport.
In 2010, while playing as goalkeeper for the Washington Freedom, Scurry was hit in the temple, full impact, by the knee of a player on an opposing team. What went from possibly being an ordinary concussion turned into a pain that wouldn’t go away, and she would have to retire from the sport because of it that same year. She eventually had surgery, bilateral occipital nerve surgery, to deal with the issue. She is now an advocate for women’s health in a major way, speaking out about healing from concussions and traumatic brain injuries. She plans to continue advocating after she’s gone. Scurry will donate her brain to help with chronic traumatic encephalopathy research.