Club Founder and Director comes out as Transgender

On May 1st, 2017 Kaig Lightner decided it was time to tell the players something that he had been nervous about revealing to them. He told them he was born a girl. In preparation for telling the players at practice that evening he decided to have it recorded, mainly to document an event that is unusual but also to have something to share with the parents and players who weren't at practice that night. He never expected it to ignite national attention overnight! In just a little over 24 hours the video that Kaig posted to Facebook captured the attention of Outsports.com who wrote the first story about Kaig's coming out. Shortly after that Huffington Post picked up the story.  Within a week of the first article many local, national and international news outlets had picked up the story and nearly 110,000 views on YouTube in a month!

While Kaig is certainly appreciative of the positive support by some of these large publications he is even more appreciative of the outpouring of love from his players, their families and the club supporters. His intention in telling the kids was to be honest with them but to also connect with them on the complexities of discrimination.  As a white person Kaig is very aware that he has been given many privileges in his life. But it is through his experience of being a "different" kid that he also became painfully aware of how it feels to be judged simply based on the way one looks.  He wanted to make sure the current and future players in PCFC knew that he could relate in someway to them as kids from Latino, African and low-income communities.  He also had the message that through being open, honest, and real with one another we build community. Kaig is aware that not all kids (or adults) have the support or resources to do all those things, but it is his hope that through organizations like PCFC that more kids will find the community support they might be lacking otherwise.

Kaig Lightner is also the head coach of the club's U16 Boys Competitive Team

Kaig Lightner is also the head coach of the club's U16 Boys Competitive Team

PCFC is on the National Soccer Map

 This summer Director, Kaig Lightner reached out to the author of a fantastic article in The Guardian after discovering that the author was tapping into an issue of inequality in youth soccer nation-wide.  Much to Kaig's surprise the author quickly put him in touch with the US Soccer Diversity Task Force.  Kaig had a very productive and exciting conversation with Ben Lear of the Task Force where Kaig learned that PCFC is the only sustainable program of it's kind in the entire Northwest Region.  This was exciting to hear and also fueled Kaig's passion to continue to make PCFC accessible, affordable and professional.

As a result of being on the radar of the US Soccer Diversity Task Force Kaig now meets every other month via conference call with leaders of the Task Force along with 15-20 other community leaders around the nation who are also striving to equal the playing field for all youth to have access to soccer programs.

The Task Force has made a serious commitment to provide the US Soccer Federation (the organization that governs youth soccer) with hard facts about how many youth around the country are being excluded due to multiple barriers.  The goal of providing these facts is to begin to change the way that youth soccer has been governed for nearly 50 years.  There is a lot of work to be done, but with programs like PCFC gaining attention nationally it will hopefully bring more light to the disproportionate access to soccer for kids from communities of color, low-income and marginalized areas across the country. And by shining light onto this issue the hope is that more grassroots programs will have access to funding, resources, and coaching education.

Please continue to follow PCFC news to find out about how we are assisting in this major national shift!

 

The Unifying Force that is Sport

The story below comes directly from the internal Nike volunteer and donation platform, WE Portal.  Our very own Kirstin Soldevilla was recently featured!  This story of Kirstin's own love of the game, coaching and her dedication to youth has been sent to nearly 7000 employees nation-wide.  We are very proud to call Kirstin a member of the PCFC family!


Kids of all backgrounds play soccer at Portland Community Football Club, where Kirstin Soldevilla, Senior Administrative Assistant for Global Sourcing and Manufacturing Finance, is a highly dedicated volunteer coach.

Kirstin Soldevilla’s family moved around Portland a lot when she was a kid. “I was constantly changing schools and sports teams, and making new friends,” she says. It could have been discouraging to start over so many times, but instead it contributed to her independence. And with encouragement from her parents she tried new sports and even “played with the boys, especially when it came to soccer.”

Soccer became a unifying force for Kirstin that could “bring people of all ages and all walks of life out to a field at 5 am on a Saturday to score a couple of epic goals before sneaking back to the house for breakfast just as the rest of the family was waking up,” she says. It was on the field—from weekend pickup games to competitive high-school matches—that she learned “respect for others regardless of age, gender or background, and how to listen to and inspire others. To this day, some of my most powerful memories were made on the field, and were inspired by teammates, coaches, rivals and fans.”

THE ROAD TO PCFC

After college and a stint traveling, Kirstin came back to Portland with a desire to re-root herself in the community. She reached out to the Global Community Impact team for suggestions on where to volunteer; with her soccer background, Portland Community Football Club (PCFC) was a natural fit.

She’s been coaching at PCFC for 10 months now, planning practices and hauling equipment in her Subaru, as well as gaining a reputation as a “professional shoe tier, back rubber, encourager, mediator and chauffeur,” she adds.

PCFC’s goal is to offer high-quality, low-cost soccer to Portland youth, eliminating barriers to entry by asking families to pay only what they can afford. It’s a simple concept, but one Kirstin believes is much needed. “The playground is the only outlet many of these kids have to socialize outside of school, and that is not enough,” she says. “They grow up without the funds to pay for costly sports equipment, team fees or tournament registrations.”

A PROACTIVE APPROACH TO TOLERANCE AND RESPECT

PCFC is also the first youth soccer club in Portland with an open acceptance policy for LGBTQ players, coaches, staff and families. By coaching young kids with different backgrounds (many represent minority ethnic groups, and a fair number are refugees), Kirstin hopes they learn respect for each other, as well as positive communication and teamwork. “It is important to me that everyone feels they are equal and important contributors to the success of the team,” she says. “With this inclusiveness, you see the kids shine and learn to support each other. It creates a strong bond among teammates that extends beyond the soccer field.”

It’s also created great admiration of the players by Kirstin. “My favorite questions to ask them are, ‘What are you going to study in school?’ and, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up? So far, we have two lawyers, one mayor, one software engineer, a policeman, and a professional football player.”

These are some of the most amazing people I have ever met, and I would love to see what incredible things they achieve 20 years from now.

WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, BUT THINK YOU DON’T HAVE TIME?

If you’ve thought about volunteering but aren’t sure you can commit, take this bit of advice from Kirstin: “It’s hard to allocate your free time to helping others, but once you start it is hard to stop. When you find a cause that resonates with you, you’ll end up diving in. Don’t let fear that you won’t be able to make a long-term commitment deter you. Start by doing it once a month. The positivity you will feel is unbelievable. Just get out there!”

Bonus: Nike will match your volunteer hours at $10 per hour up to $1,000 per year! “This is one of the most empowering and inspiring benefits the company offers,” says Kirstin.

ABOUT THE WE PORTAL

Every day, Nike employees create positive change in our communities around the world. The WE Portal was created to make it easier for employees to make a difference.

Through the WE Portal, you can help your community however you choose. Whether you are looking to donate money or time to the causes you care about, the WE Portal can help you tap into a world-wide network of opportunities to volunteer, donate, and initiate change.

Nike will also help you along the way. We'll match your donations to causes on the WE Portal. We'll reward your WE Portal giving account for volunteer hour you track. Because when you give to your community, Nike supports you to give your best.