Soccer player for the Chicago Red Stars. Previously played for Northwestern.
Tell us about yourself and your athletic career.
My name is Hannah Davison and I am from the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois in Geneva. I have 4 siblings and all of us grew up playing sports (soccer, basketball, track, softball, etc.) and competing over just about any type of game my parents put in front of us. So it was apparent from a young age that I had a very competitive spirit. I started playing soccer as soon as I was able to walk and kick a ball. I started off playing on my community recreational team (coached by my dad of course) until I quite literally begged my parents to let me join a higher level travel team when I realized I was quickly outgrowing my current team and wanted more of a challenge. They finally let me switch teams when I was in 3rd grade and that was the year I really started to dream about becoming a professional soccer player when I grew up. My days were filled with soccer. I would wear my new, special travel jersey to school every day, dominate the pickup soccer game at recess, just to go straight to my own practice immediately after school. I loved every second of it and it would soon consume a majority of my time. I played club soccer with Eclipse Select, traveling almost every weekend to tournaments and games, and was fortunate to earn myself an athletic scholarship to continue playing in college at Northwestern University. After a very eventful 4 years of growth and accomplishments at Northwestern, I was drafted in 2019 into the NWSL by The Chicago Red Stars and I am currently about to begin my 3rd professional soccer season in the NWSL as a central defender!
What are your hopes for the future?
My hopes for the future are to see all of women’s sports continue to grow, expand, and gain more respect in the sports world. I hope in the near future there is equal coverage of men's and women’s sports in the media so that there is more visibility to young girls who want to grow up and become a professional athlete. I also hope that the word “female” does not need to proceed “athlete” or any other job/career occupied by a woman. I hope for a truly equal playing field that women are able to be treated with the same respect and resources as their male counterparts and are be able to receive equal pay for their play.
As a pro athlete, do you feel gender inequality? Have you experienced it?
As a professional athlete, it feels like you are constantly in a battle of proving your worth, your athletic capabilities, and mental and physical strength to the media, to men, and haters. I have chosen to lift the burden off of myself personally to not feel like I must constantly need others' validation to know my own capabilities, however, I have definitely experienced and seen first hand the effects of gender inequality in sports. These acts of inequality can and do present themselves in many ways but I see it most commonly in the lack of coverage of women’s sports on major media outlets, sexist comments from reporters and fans that focus on our appearances, our attitudes, our clothing, and our bodies, the lack of investments and resources to build the women’s game, differences in playing conditions, and salaries. We have come so far already from where we started but we have also just begun to close those gaps and there is still a long way to go.
What do you think will improve equality on and off the field?
I think the most important thing that we need to focus on is changing the narrative of women in sports and we need to stop using gender as a means of measurement. Too often women’s sports are deemed as less important, less entertaining, and taken less seriously solely based on the fact that we are women. We need to stop treating women’s sport as a showcase for pleasure where people feel the need to comment on our looks, body size, and competition and link that to our worth and abilities. Our bodies are built differently, but we put in the same amount of time, effort, commitment to our sports as our male counterparts. Our sports are badass, we are badass. And the lack of coverage or knowledge about our sports from the general public is due to a lack of coverage in the media and press, and less about the world’s lack of interest in viewing our sporting events.
What does the phrase "Equalize the Future" mean to you?
“Equalize the Future” to me is a very powerful and hopeful phrase that to me means that our generation and our children’s generations will grow up in a world where they feel no limits on what they can achieve and what and who they can become. I want to cultivate a world where my children and their children will not feel the same limitations to chasing their dreams of a professional athlete. I want the next generations to be able to see women on their TVs, hear conversations about women in sports, and know that they are just as, if not more strong, powerful, and worthy as their male counterparts.
There has been so much progress in the last couple of years with closing gender discrimination gaps and we need to continue to speak on this topic because sports is one of the most powerful platforms we have for promoting gender equality and we must continue to let our actions speak loud and continue to fight to equalize the future for our children.