Every Day is Mother’s Day

Washington Spirit  |   May 12, 2024
Every Day is Mother’s Day Featured Image

Celebrating & empowering mothers at the Spirit


Enter Casey Krueger – NWSL defender, USWNT player, and Olympian. Krueger’s reputation as an elite one-on-one defender and stellar passer preceded her prior to signing with the Spirit this offseason. In 2022, she added another title: mom.

In her own words, Krueger said that prior to becoming a mother, she wasn’t sure if she wanted, or could, have a child — let alone resume her career afterwards. Following a tumultuous pregnancy journey that included a miscarriage and subsequent c-section birth, Krueger welcomed her son, Caleb, in July of 2022. Upon Caleb’s birth, Krueger experienced an intense realignment of what was most important to her: being Caleb’s mother.

So, when Krueger entered the offseason prior to the 2024 season as a free agent — a historically uneventful proceeding for the veteran outside back who played her entire NWSL career (eight seasons) with the Chicago Red Stars — the Washington Spirit was not only keenly aware of the precious context that readjusted Krueger’s approach to professional soccer but embraced it fully.

“Having to uproot my family would be a challenge, and so all of that was a factor during my free agency process,” Krueger said. “I needed both my husband and son to be happy and for it to make sense for them. The Spirit went above and beyond as far as taking care of them and making sure all those boxes were checked, things I didn’t even ask for which made it so clear this was the place for me.”

Accordingly, the Spirit sporting staff, including Senior Manager, Player Marketing & Logistics, Katia Rabinowitch, sprang into action to make Washington the dream destination for a mother. That included knowing what the bare minimum NWSL requirements for mothers were, so that the Spirit, in Rabinowitch’s words, could triple-down and “go way beyond because that’s who we are.”

At the top of the list: a Mother’s Room that would offer a private, intimate space for Casey to nurse and for Caleb to play and engage in his favorite activities. Led by Rabinowitch, the Spirit constructed a Mother’s Room and filled it with nearly any supply a mother could need. She even crowdsourced, calling upon mothers from around the Spirit staff to garner firsthand the resources most vital to a working mother. From tools to wash pump parts to child-friendly décor and carpet, toys, refreshments, a TV for Caleb to watch Ms. Rachel (his favorite program), and even framed photos of the Casey, Caleb, and the Krueger family, the Mother’s Room became an extension of home for Caleb.



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“The Mother’s Room has been so wonderful to have and is immensely helpful,” Krueger said. “For the longer training days, he’s able to go in there, and I’m able to pump in that room and feed him. It goes a long way and enables me to focus on football at the times I need to.”

While the Spirit is intentional in its support of Krueger, the team is well aware that any level of support does not erase the toil of balancing the demands of being a full-time mother and playing soccer at the world’s highest level.

“It’s tough because you’re never really able to shut off, especially on the road,” Krueger said. “Having to balance out a schedule of nursing and playing — it feels like a math problem sometimes. He’s been super adaptable and he’s such a wonderful baby, so he makes it easy, but it is tough from a physical and mental standpoint.”

Krueger’s schedule has become a jigsaw puzzle and to help her balance it all, the Spirit travels Krueger’s full-time nanny to all road matches, carves out dedicated spaces at opposing venues, hotels, and more for Casey, Caleb, and their nanny, and ensures resources such as highchairs, car seats, etc. are available when needed.

Not to mention, Casey, admittedly, is afforded the luxury most other professional athletes typically don’t get to experience: Having their child get to experience their professional journey alongside them. And better yet, what about the fleet of over 20 want-to-be aunts – a crown that is worn by Nicole “Auntie Barnie” Barnhart – who jump at any opportunity to shower Caleb with love and company?

“From day one, I felt the love and support for Caleb. Top to bottom, everyone was making sure he was comfortable and taken care of,” Krueger said. “It wasn’t something that was even on my radar or that I thought would be possible. I knew league wide the support was improving, but the Spirit has just gone above and beyond.”

The Spirit’s commitment to working moms extends beyond the pitch, with a parental leave policy that has become a standard-bearer across the sports industry. With many organizations across the United States providing no, or meager, paid leave policies following childbirth, many mothers are forced to make the sacrifice: Either sacrifice income or time to bond with your newborn.

Recognizing this as a gap in most companies’ offerings, the Spirit – led by Michele Kang and spearheaded by first-time mother and HR Director Maria Harrigan – acted to provide an inclusive, non-discriminatory, and comprehensive parental leave plan of four months full paid leave regardless of gender or birthing method.

“Since we are a women’s team, we need to support and uplift them, not create barriers to prevent other women from having a career,” said Harrigan. “We don’t want to discriminate based on gender or sexual orientation; it must be inclusive.”

On Mother’s Day and every day, the Spirit recognizes the sacred occupation that motherhood truly is, acting every step of the way to lift up mothers across the organization.

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