Washington Spirit revealed their new kits and rallied fans in advance of the 2023 season with a Season Premiere event at Penn Social in Washington, DC, last night. The invitation-only event was attended by Premium season ticket holders, representatives of supporters group, players, and staff and featured speeches by Spirit staff and players.
The first speaker of the night, Y. Michele Kang, reflected on her first year as majority owner of the team as the March 30 anniversary approaches. During that time, much of her attention was directed toward bringing in new technical and coaching staff to support the players.
“Our focus was on putting out the best product out there,” she said. “We’re here to play soccer. Our players want to play soccer. Our coaches want to coach soccer.”
She also expressed her desire to create the best fan experience possible, acknowledging that fans have a myriad of options for what to do with their free time. Kang said it’s important for Washington to offer the best soccer and fan experience they can to entice fans to choose Spirit games over any other options.
Since becoming majority owner, Kang has spoken about her vision for the team and plans to make them a world-class organization, and the 2023 Spirit Premiere – the first event of its kind for the Spirit – reflected that vision. The event was polished and professional, with the new black-and-white branding evident throughout the event space. Spirit players and staff conveyed a consistent sense of excitement about the changes the organization has made and about the upcoming season.
“Together we’re going to elevate the women’s soccer game globally,” Kang said.
Dawn Scott, Vice President of Performance, Medical, and Innovation, spoke about her work with the team on player health so far, including her philosophy of treating female athletes as women rather than “small men,” which is how she said sports medicine has traditionally approached them. She has already begun educating the players about female health and understanding their bodies, as well as collecting data about each individual.
Scott’s intention is to “engineer an approach that is bespoke and specific to each individual athlete.” Her focus on individual female health includes looking at the impact of each player’s menstrual cycle on her performance and on treating any related symptoms to allow the player to recover quickly.
Scott also shared that the Spirit plan to increase the medical staff, particularly by adding members who will support players’ mental well-being and performance psychology.
Coach Mark Parsons previewed the team fans can expect to see taking the field on March 26, describing them as “a hungry, determined, high-energy, aggressive team.” He urged fans to bring “the energy, connection, and passion” that he has seen from them over the years to the new season.
The players also got in on the action of providing entertainment. Captains Aubrey Kingsbury and Andi Sullivan each moderated a panel of their teammates: the “Vet’s Club” and the “Young Guns,” respectively. Like the other speakers, the players shared their excitement about the direction of the club, with Tara McKeown referring to the work the organization has done in the offseason as the team’s “first win” of the year.
On the Vet’s panel, Amber Brooks said she was jealous of players starting their careers with Kang’s Washington Spirit. “I think this will be a top club in the next few years,” she said. Her fellow panelist Tori Huster jokingly asked Dawn Scott to begin work on anti-aging techniques so the older players could stick around for another decade.
Ending the evening’s structured entertainment, President of Business Operations Emma May teased the possibility of more changes to come for the Washington Spirit.
“We are building something so special at the Spirit,” May said. “Over the next few years, you can expect to see the unexpected from us.”