Each year, Louisville Business First salutes women making a difference in business and in the community through its Enterprising Women program, highlighting qualities such as civic engagement, mentoring and innovation.
A number of 2020 Enterprising Women honorees have aligned with another group of professionals on the rise, electing to run with Racing Louisville FC during its inaugural season.
Local women leaders in business will appear in an upcoming series of videos across the club’s social media platforms speaking about representation in pro sports, equality and other noteworthy values as the NWSL — regarded as the world’s top women’s soccer league — expands to Louisville in 2021.
Each member of the class will have access to tickets for Racing games. Also, Racing Louisville will seek seminar and networking opportunities between the Enterprising Women honorees and the team to maximize player experience and opportunities off the field.
“The debut of women’s professional soccer in Louisville is a tremendous opportunity for our region,” said Lisa Benson, publisher of Business First Louisville and a Racing Louisville season ticket member. “A big part of our mission at Business First is to serve as a connector and help our audience advance their careers, and so we are thrilled to connect our Enterprising Women honorees with the women of Racing Louisville FC to create that bridge between our business community and the team.”
Enterprising Women aligned with Racing Louisville include the heads of Greater Louisville Inc. and One Southern Indiana, major local chambers of commerce, as well as area businesses’ CEOs, presidents and vice presidents.
“When we have the opportunity to jump into the top league of any level with a sport that’s focused on women and the success of women, there’s so much to be gained by that,” said One Southern Indiana’s president and CEO, Wendy Dant Chesser.
“I grew up playing soccer, actually, and until I was 13 I was playing on guys’ teams. Women’s soccer hadn’t hit the level that we had teams locally,” added Mariah Gratz, CEO of Weyland Ventures. “So having a women’s professional team that really gives young girls and young women role models in what they’re doing and people who look like them having success in their field is huge.”
Racing Louisville opens its NWSL era April 10 when hosting the Orlando Pride at Lynn Family Stadium. It’s one of four games in the preseason Challenge Cup tournament, with the other home day an April 26 matchup against the North Carolina Courage. The regular season will begin in mid-May.
Racing’s roster — overseen by coach Christy Holly — includes U.S. Women’s National Team defender Emily Fox, former University of Louisville forward Emina Ekic and Yuki Nagasato, a World Cup winner with Japan.
“I think it’s exciting, because in a year where there’s not been a lot of hope, this provides hope — to the community, to women and to everybody who’s been marginalized,” said Gladys Lopez, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Norton Healthcare. “It provides an opportunity for people to understand and recognize that there is investment and support of individuals.”
“As a member of the Confluent Health family since its inception, I know how important it us to have great community support in a startup,” added Kim Mascaro, executive vice president of her company. “That’s why our whole team is so excited to support this. We cannot wait to be in the stands. We’ll be your biggest fans. Come join me."