DES MOINES, Iowa -- Megan Rapinoe is a two-time World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist, but Iowans got to see someone much more than just an athlete Tuesday night.
"She`s a great advocate for social justice and women`s rights, gay rights and the LGBTQ community," said Mallory Abreu, who attended the lecture series. Dakota Sanchez added, "A strong, independent female that was able to really ruffle feathers and make change." Abreu added, a "purple-haired goddess."
These were just some of words Iowans of all ages used to describe the United States Women's National Team captain, as they awaited her question and answer session at Drake University`s Knapp Center. "I always heard it was lit in Iowa, but I didn`t know it was like this," said Rapinoe upon entering the stage.
Rapinoe is one of the most feared opponents on the soccer pitch, and she proved to be equally formidable when taking on social issues such as equal pay for women to make the same amount as their male soccer counterparts. A gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. soccer is currently in mediation. "When we play a game, our maximum amount we can earn is here, and when they play a game, it`s much higher. If we are really serious about equality, this can be one example of it, and it has to be both the men’s and women’s team," Rapinoe said.
She praised Drake University and Suzie Glazer Burt's $5 million commitment to the program being the largest non-capital gift to a women's basketball program in NCAA history. "That`s the kind of big, bold movement we need and bold investment we need," said Rapinoe.
Rapinoe and the women`s national team caused waves when they refused to meet with President Donald Trump after winning the World Cup this past summer. Her response drew cheers. "He doesn`t stand for women, he doesn`t stand for people of color, he doesn`t stand for anything we stand for. So to go there and have ourselves co-opted and corrupted like that doesn`t make sense to me," Rapinoe said.
The Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture Series event was free and open to public. It peeled back the curtain on why she chooses to be outspoken and not just a soccer player. Rapinoe said, "We are in the media a lot for the sport, but we get to be our full selves wherever we are. We aren`t here just for your entertainment. We are people as well."
This was the 41st installment of the Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture Series. The announcement for next year's lecturer is expected later this fall. Past speakers have included Magic Johnson and Maya Angelou.