Gov. Cooper signs proclamation to honor NC Courage players: ‘A voice for change’

In front of the main staircase of his mansion in Raleigh on Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper signed a proclamation that stated that July 19, 2019, will serve as a day in recognition of the 2019 NC Courage — for the team’s collective achievement, and for its players “inspiring athletes and fans of all ages and genders.”

Cooper, with the Courage’s full roster behind him, said that Friday was a day to celebrate the rise of soccer in North Carolina and across the country. He singled out all seven of the players who represented their respective countries in the 2019 World Cup, saving the four members of the world-champion United States team — Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, Jessica McDonald, Samantha Mewis — for last.

“You make us so proud, for you represent the Courage, how you represent the talent of North Carolina and how you are a voice for change,” Cooper said to a crowd of hundreds of guests, including young kids. “Reflecting on your accomplishments, I am continually impressed.”

The Courage are not new guests to the governor’s residence. Last August, Cooper welcomed the Courage to celebrate the team’s 2018 International Champions Cup victory and second consecutive NWSL shield.

NC Courage players take photos with fans on July 19, 2019 at the North Carolina Executive Mansion in Raleigh, NC. Bryan Cereijo

Mewis, who accepted the proclamation on behalf of the team, offered her thanks to everyone in attendance, including Cooper himself.

“We’re so honored to be a part of a community that fights for equality in the workplace and inclusivity for all,” Mewis said to a rise of applause. “Thank you Governor Cooper and First Lady Cooper for continuing to make North Carolina a place that we are proud to call home.”

Mewis also thanked team owner Steve Malik for setting an example for the NWSL by investing in the Courage, including his proposal to build a new sports and entertainment complex south of downtown Raleigh.

Malik also offered a few words.

“We all know what they can do on the field,” Malik said. “What they do in their lives to be pioneers for women’s soccer, and to uphold what we all would aspire our country to be, and to stand for those beliefs, is just incredible.”

The Courage play the Chicago Red Stars in Chicago on Sunday evening. After that, the team travels to Utah to take on the Utah Royals before it returns to WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary to play the Washington Spirit on Aug. 2 at 7 p.m.

Until then, soccer remains a part of the action in North Carolina: Relevent Sports Group’s House of Soccer fan fest, an annual sports and arts festival, will come to Charlotte this weekend — and its headlining guest is World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe.

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Alex is an intern at The News and Observer, covering sports and however it intersects with life in the Triangle. Before that, Alex graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in May and was a three-year staffer on UNC’s student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel.