Welcome to February! February 1st marks the start of Black History Month in America, where we pause to recall the achievements that black people have made and the many things that black people have provided this great nation. It’s also a chance to reflect on the many hardships black people have endured throughout American history and continue the conversations that will lead to the changes necessary to improve life for black people moving forward.
What I decided to do this month is to bring some of that to the soccer world. Soccer is a sport that’s rich with history, and a lot of the iconic moments, players, or events that define the beautiful game’s history is a result of black people. So, over the next 28 days, I will bring you quick, daily stories about a black player, an iconic moment in black soccer history, or other soccer achievement made by a black person. Some will be domestic stories, while others may span the globe. In the end, it’s an opportunity to recall some great things that you may have already known while some days learning something new. I know by doing this, I hope to gain a lot of new knowledge as well.
Today, I start with Eddie Hawkins. Eddie Hawkins, a New York native, starred in soccer in the midfield, becoming an All-American while in high school before he was drafted by the Washington Diplomats of the NASL in 1980. He decided instead to attend Hartwick College, where he led the Hawks to the 1980 NCAA Final Four.
It was after college where Eddie Hawkins made history, becoming the first African American soccer player to earn a cap with the United States. That cap came when he appeared in a 2-2 Miami Cup draw against Ecuador on December 2, 1984. This important color barrier was broken and because of Eddie Hawkins’ strides, so many players have had the opportunity after him to become stars on the USMNT. Many of those players we will see in this series later on in the month. But, all of them must pay tribute to Eddie Hawkins and his ability to work his way up the ranks to become the first of his kind to represent the United States on the soccer field. Currently, Eddie Hawkins runs Zen Soccer School, a private soccer training company where he trains kids of all ages while also preparing high school players for the rigors of college soccer.
Have you heard of Eddie Hawkins? Did you know the color barrier has only been broken for 33 years? Well, now you know. Hopefully, it will help you consider the conversation about how to get more black kids into the soccer pipeline. We have Eddie Hawkins to thank for the pipeline even existing.