Shannon Boxx enters the Football Hall of Fame as a model

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FILE - Shannon Boxx, U.S., right, is greeted by her husband Aaron Spearman and their 20-month-old daughter Zoe Spearman before a friendly soccer game Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Seattle.  The match was the last of his career for Boxx.  Boxx showed that representation matters while redefining the role of a defensive midfielder for the United States Women's National Team.  Boxx has made 195 appearances with the national team, the most in team history for a black woman.  she was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame and will be dedicated on Friday, May 21, 2022 in Frisco, Texas.  (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

FILE – Shannon Boxx, U.S., right, is greeted by her husband Aaron Spearman and their 20-month-old daughter Zoe Spearman before a friendly soccer game Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Seattle. The match was the last of his career for Boxx. Boxx showed that representation matters while redefining the role of a defensive midfielder for the United States Women’s National Team. Boxx has made 195 appearances with the national team, the most in team history for a black woman. she was elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame and will be dedicated on Friday, May 21, 2022 in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

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Shannon Boxx understood the impact she could have on a younger generation even as she redefined the role of defensive midfielder for the United States Women’s National Team.

Boxx played at a time when the national team was predominantly white. At the 2015 Women’s World Cup, she was one of three women of color to play for the United States.

She was aware of her presence even on the pitch as a biracial woman sent a message to girls like her.

“There were times when I was in the national team where I looked around and thought, ‘I’m the only person of color here right now, at certain times in the team. “” she said. “For me, it was just a big weight that I was ready to have, but I remember thinking, OK, when we’re signing autographs, I’m looking for these kids of color because I want them to know that they can do it, and I may be the only one right now, but it won’t be like that in the future.

Boxx played 195 games for the United States, the most by a black woman in national team history. Next week, she will be enshrined in the National Football Hall of Fame in Frisco, Texas, joining a class that includes former men’s national team star Clint Dempsey.

Known as Boxxy, she retired at 38 shortly after the United States won the 2015 World Cup. She also won three Olympic gold medals with the national team.

She brought creativity and technical know-how to her position. She only made her national team debut at the age of 26, but immediately made an impact and was named to the 2003 World Cup roster by the then manager, April Heinrichs. She became the first American to score in each of her first three appearances with the team.

During the last years of his career, Boxx took two years off due to injuries and the birth of his daughter. She also battled lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome, two autoimmune diseases.

While her run with the national team was marked by resilience, she also faced challenges in her professional career. After a short stint in Germany, Boxx was drafted by the San Diego Spirit of the WUSA in 2001. She credits the pro league for uplifting her game.

She started her first season, but her playing time was reduced in the second.

“I don’t think up to this point, I had really failed. I had been successful in high school, I had been successful in college,” she said. “And that was the first time I was like, ‘Wow, like, there’s a whole other level than if I really want to be successful, I’m going to have to do these things to get there.

Boxx then played in the Women’s Professional Soccer League and finally the National Women’s Soccer League.

After retiring, Boxx settled with her family in Portland, Oregon, where she helped establish a girls’ soccer academy to bring the game to underserved populations.

“Parents are so happy that we are entering a community that wants to do this. They want to provide that for their children, but they can’t afford it,” Boxx said. “I think it makes things much more accessible. And realizing that paying to play isn’t the only way to get someone to play football.

Boxx will be enshrined with former teammate Christie Pearce Rampone, who was originally inducted into the Hall of Fame last year but postponed her induction until this season in response to a series of scandals in the NWSL.

Former United States goaltender Hope Solo was elected to the Hall of Fame this year but released a statement saying she would delay her induction for a year while she participates in an inpatient treatment program at the following his arrest for impaired driving in late March.

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