By Jay Skebba The Blade, Toledo, Ohio
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) At the fourth annual "Be the Force" Girls Leadership Summit, soccer star Hope Solo emphasized the importance of perseverance after sharing she was cut from the 1999 and 2003 World Cup squads and the 2000 Olympic team. She also touched upon dealing with bullies as a girl and struggling with self-confidence issues.
Goalkeeper Hope Solo helped the United States Women's National Soccer Team win a FIFA World Cup and two Olympic gold medals during her 16-year career in net, but her salary never matched her male counterparts'.
Equal pay was one of several topics Ms. Solo touched on Sunday at the fourth annual Be the Force Girls Leadership Summit at the Stranahan Theater. Ms. Solo filed a gender-discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation last August, about six months before more than 20 current players filed their own.
"[Men's goalie] Tim Howard played eight games a year; I would play 24," Ms. Solo said. "He got paid $10,000 more than me. I had to win a World Cup and a gold medal and play three times as much just to make $10,000 less than him.
"U.S. Soccer probably wants to settle at some point, but this is not about us. It's about setting a road map for future generations."
Ms. Solo said although the men sell more tickets than the women, the women's team brings in more money when advertising and marketing dollars are factored in. The USWNT also scores higher television ratings.
"The Equal Pay Act states you cannot discriminate based on gender," Ms. Solo said. "Despite money and commercial value, it doesn't matter. You get into these debates with people who aren't educated."
Ms. Solo also touched on dealing with bullies as a girl and struggling with self-confidence issues. She explained the importance of perseverance after sharing she was cut from the 1999 and 2003 World Cup squads and the 2000 Olympic team.
Other speakers at the event included America's Got Talent semi-finalist and cancer survivor Caly Bevier, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), and iHeart Radio on-air personality Meaghan Mick.
Audience member Dana Zeller wanted her daughter Mary to hear from other women.
"It's good to see powerful leaders for girls so they see role models," Ms. Zeller said. "It's too easy for women on a daily basis to tear each other down. It's really good to see women standing on the same side as each other instead of competing with each other."
Mary said she "wanted to be inspired by all the cool people" on stage. Ms. Bevier was her favorite speaker.
"She was really inspirational about how she deals with bullies and things like that," Mary said.
Miss Kaptur sported all her Girl Scout badges as she took the microphone. She urged girls to get involved in their community and others.
"Women were once not considered a whole person," Miss Kaptur said. "You have grown up in a society much unlike the one that existed when [the country] was first founded. As you get older and turn 18, register to vote. Don't be an occupant of the republic, be a participant." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.