Discover more from The Blazing Musket
How NWSL Plans To Change The Boston Sports Landscape While Uplifting The Community
While ownership looks to generate on-field success in 2026, giving back and growing the community is top priority.
Journalists and fans alike got their first chances to hear from the ownership group of Boston’s new National Women’s Soccer League franchise as they held a press conference alongside Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Celtics President of Basketball Operations and investor Brad Stevens, NWSL Commissioner Jennifer Berman, and USWNT legend and investor Kristine Lilly.
Host Ella Duncan kicked things off by welcoming all to City Hall Plaza and cracked a joke apologizing for the wind. Duncan then turned to a serious note as she highlighted Boston's impact on women's sports. From Kathrine Switzer becoming the first female Boston Marathon runner in 1967 to Boston University being one of the first colleges to put a women’s rowing program, Boston has been at the forefront of progressing women’s sport in the region, but across the country and globe.
The Blazing Musket is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
“Boston is the home of so many leaders and visionaries in the fight for women’s equity, and particularly in sports,” Duncan said. “Now I get to be a humble participant in the celebration of what is going to be the next great franchise here in the city of Boston.”
Duncan then welcomed Boston Mayor Michelle Wu to the stage. Wu opened with how she was “so excited to see everyone out here today to finally be at this moment with superstars here, trailblazers on a number of different fronts.”
After thanking her staff for the hard work with this and other projects, Wu turned her direction to the ownership group to thank them.
“Jennifer Epstine, Stephanie Connaughton, Ani Danoff, Anna Palmer, thank you for believing in our city! Thank you for believing in what is possible for the young people of our city,” she said.”
Wu then went on to talk about the rise of women’s sports across the country and the globe in recent years.
“We have seen the popularity in how important it is to elevate and highlight the success that our women’s sports teams and our women athletes are leading the way on. We’ve seen records set for viewership and attendance,” the mayor said.
Mayor Wu went on to describe how the USWNT has inspired people on and off the pitch and set standards with their “athleticism, for what it means to stand up for what’s right, and they have had an impact in changing the direction of not only sports, but parity, equity, and opportunity in this country and across the world.”
The topic of White Stadium came up as Michelle Wu applauded it being the first professional team to be co-housed with public school athletes in a public school district-owned venue. While the NWSL franchise will call White Stadium home, so will the countless students in the Boston Public School system who will use the facility to grow as athletes and as people.
Mayor Wu ended her speech by revealing what success would mean to her with this project. While many Boston sports fans would jump to titles, banners, and duck boat parades, Mayor Wu views “the success of our city and our young people.” as the real goal.
Jennifer Epstein, one of the four women a part of the ownership group, was next to speak. Epstein opened with how “today is an exciting day for the city of Boston, for soccer fans, for women, and for our team.” She described how Boston sports are integral to the city.
“It’s the way sports are intrinsically woven into the fabric of our culture,” Epstein said. “It’s about how sports are a vital part of our history, our passions, our families, our identity, and our community.”
Epstein admired the barriers the group that brought this NWSL franchise back to Boston broke. A staggering 95% of investment has come from female investors and 40% from investors of color.
While Epstein and the ownership group will “work tirelessly to ensure this exciting and daring ride will lead to the best ride of all, a duck boat victory lap in our championship parade,” like Wu, Epstein also wants to make an everlasting impact for the city of Boston.
“Community is paramount. We aim to be champions in our neighborhoods too,” she said.
Up next was NWSL Commissioner Jennifer Berman. Berman reiterated the demand for professional women’s sports by saying, “The demand for women’s sports is here. It’s knocking down our doors, and we couldn’t be more excited for the future.”
Berman described how previous Boston women's soccer teams "inability to be successful was not because of the players and not because of the opportunity. Their iconic talent and greatness was unable to shine because the world wasn’t ready for it. The state of the league today is ready for it.”
Investor and Celtics President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens pointed out how he and his wife Tracy's daughter was the driving force behind getting involved.
“It’s really important for us to give our kids something to really inspire too and to look to,” Stevens said. There is no better feeling than being apart of a group where our 14-year-old daughter can go and watch her idols.”
The best was most certainly saved for last as investor, USWNT legend, and former Boston Breakers player Kristine Lilly took the stage.
Lilly initially joked about how she wished she was 30 years younger before commending the efforts of all involved to bring women’s soccer back to the city. She described how her move from New York to Boston was initially a shock, but “the fans and the support we got back then was amazing.”
Lilly then brought the comedy back as she described how one thing was missing from her soccer career.
“I’ve won the World Cup, I’ve won gold medals, I’ve won at college, but I never won professionally. So now, guess what, this is my time to be on the sidelines, and we’re going to bring it home,” she stated.
Lilly wrapped up her speech describing how much the game has changed from when she and others initially paved the way.
“Going from the 2015 World Cup, to the 2019 World Cup, to the 2023 World Cup, the change of the game and the growth of the game has been phenomenal,” she said.
If I learned one thing from today’s press conference, it's how this project will allow for the continued growth of not just the Boston sports landscape but be a factor in the growth of women’s sports and how it can not only help the sport but help a community in the process.