Soccer girl power
Lake Oswegan Tess French, 11, is one of 14 featured in a positive post about female athletes that caught fire on the Internet
If youre ever feeling discouraged about the future of America, just talk with Tess French and youll most likely walk away smiling.
The 11-year-old Lake Oswego resident last month discovered her picture in The Huffington Post, where shes quoted as saying: Cheetahs are my favorite animal theyre almost as fast as I am.
Wildfang tomboy clothing CEO and co-founder Emma McIlroy (whose flagship store is in the Rose City) reached out to Portland photographer Andrea Corradini for #GameFace. The June Wildfang blog post features photos of 14 female soccer players, ages 5-14, looking as fierce as if theyre about to step onto the field to face off against their biggest rivals. Each girl has a quote, including Tess cheetah comment.
The photographs below show each girl exactly as they are: powerful, competitive, the blog post says.
#GameFace came out a few days before the June 6 kickoff of the FIFA Womens World Cup; Team U.S.A. triumphed over Japan 5-2 in the finals July 5. The Huffington Post used all of the #GameFace photos, with Tess at the top, and the story since has lit up Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest and garnered attention from BuzzFeed and sites for Cosmopolitan Magazine and Shape Magazine.
It made me feel powerful, says Tess, an incoming Lakeridge Junior High School sixth-grader. Im a tough girl, and all girls can do that be tough and strong.
What does it mean to be tough and strong for Tess?
It means to be your own person or powerful in your own way, she says.
Tess has been powerful in her own way on the field for a while now, a member of the Tualatin Hills United Soccer Club for the past two years. She has been on a soccer team since kindergarten and intends to stick with her passion, planning to join the soccer team at Lakeridge Junior High. She was invited to participate in U.S. Soccer National Training.
"This past weekend, Tess scored a header goal, off an assist from teammate Parisa Burke, in their U-12 Championship game in the Lake Oswego Nike Cup," said Jeff French, Tess' father.
McIlroy and others at Wildfang used to play for and with one of the coaches at Tess club. She co-founded Wildfang with fellow former Nike executive Julia Parsley in 2013 and the brand is now popular with celebrities such as Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood. Wildfang provides styles for women who dont exactly want to wear pink floral prints, featuring T-shirts and ball caps that say Tomboy, fitted and not-so-feminine flannel shirts and jeans that are as distressed as any tough girl could hope.
But Tess and the 13 other girls in the photo shoot werent there to wear Wildfang; they looked into the lens clad in white or gray T-shirts, some turned inside-out to hide a brand name. It was an opportunity to spotlight tough, young female athletes.
Tess said her coach sent her parents an email about that opportunity.
I said, I want to do it, and I thought it was an interesting and cool new thing to try, Tess said.
Her father, Jeff French, said he and his wife werent sure about the shoot at first, but they liked how the girls were portrayed.
Its a great message promoting girls as strong and determined, he said. Its a good message regardless of whether its my kid.
Girl power is definitely important for his soccer kid, a huge fan of Team U.S.A.s powerhouses Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd. Tess will continue shooting and scoring as her teams attacking center midfielder, and thinking about the world as a place of possibilities, not one of limitations something she said all girls could, and should, do.
Maybe they can go on to do something like winning the World Cup or anything else they want to do, she said.
See The Huffington Post article on Wildfang here: huff.to/1MvTZov.
See Wildfangs original blog post here: bit.ly/1MsBRLp.