Washington Spirit players Tori Huster and Nicole ‘Barnie’ Barnhart were recently re-elected as NWSL Players Association officers, with Huster maintaining her position as President and Barnhart staying on as Secretary. Huster was first elected NWSLPA President in 2020 while Barnhart began in her role as Secretary in 2017. Following the league’s first-ever collective bargaining agreement (CBA) ahead of the 2022 season, Huster and Barnhart remain optimistic about the direction the league is headed.
“The CBA is a monumental step that we’ve made in advocating for players in protecting players’ rights and getting livable working wages but there is still a lot of work to do. It just gives the players a little bit more comfort and ease going into the season knowing that they have protections in place, they have standards in place and there’s guidelines for how things have to be run because of the CBA,” Barnhart said.
One of the most significant highlights of the CBA is raising the minimum salary to $35,000 a year in 2022, increasing each year through 2026, when the minimum salary will be over $40,000. Outside of the guaranteed minimum base salary, other key protections include: guaranteed contracts and severance payments, free agency and health and welfare benefits. The current CBA will run for five seasons, lasting through the 2026 season.
Continuing their roles as NWSLPA officers, Huster and Barnhart know how crucial it will be to advocate for their fellow players.
“It’s a big focus of mine to make sure players know their rights and to make sure clubs are abiding by what is actually in the agreement. While the CBA is an historic moment for the league, there are plenty of areas up for interpretation within the agreement,” said Huster.
While the league has made notable strides in improving the benefits for players, Huster and Barnhart know there is still a lot of progress to be made.
“Setting it up for the next generation of players is what legacy is all about. Making it easier for them to enjoy a career in football is very important to me,” said Huster. “You still need to see better salaries for players. You need this league to be players’ priority and not have players needing side hustles to make ends meet.”
Huster and Barnhart have both been in the NWSL since the league’s inception. Huster has been with the Spirit for all ten seasons of the club’s existence while Barnhart has played in Kansas City and Utah in addition to the nation’s capital. Huster attended Florida State University, where she played for Spirit President of Soccer Operations Mark Krikorian and the Seminoles for four seasons before starting her professional career and eventually becoming a Spirit captain. Barnhart was a three-time all-conference goalkeeper at Stanford University in the early 2000s and appeared in 54 matches for the U.S. Women’s National Team from 2004 to 2013. Barnhart also competed in the Women’s Premier Soccer League and Women’s Professional Soccer, the latter of which consisted of her playing for current Spirit interim head coach Albertin Montoya at FC Gold Pride.
The first CBA in American domestic professional women’s soccer history has proven to be a groundbreaking step forward for the NWSL. As the league celebrates its tenth anniversary, Huster, Barnhart and NWSLPA members are focused on ensuring the future of professional women’s soccer in the United States.