Kassie Gray is our guest this week on Cal South’s “The Bear & the Ball” podcast

Kassie Gray grew up in San Jose, CA, playing soccer from the young age of 5. She played club soccer for Los Gatos United and high school soccer at Leigh High School. She joined the Olympic Development Program at age 12 where she climbed the ladder from District Team to State Team to Regional Team, and eventually made the U18 National Team. Kassie’s passion was always the camaraderie with her teammates.

Married to former MLS star, Kelly Gray, Kassie has a unique perspective on life as a soccer wife, mom, and trendsetter within the game of soccer.

From their website:

“Over the past 50 years, the landscape of women’s soccer has drastically changed in the United States. Since the passing of Title IX, many young girls had newfound opportunities to play sports, some went on to play for the first NCAA programs, and a few became our first USWNT members.

“By 1999, our USWNT won another World Cup to a record-breaking, sold out crowd. This event sparked women’s soccer in the United States. After multiple attempts to keep women’s professional soccer in the U.S., the NWSL found success in 2013. And today, after almost 10 years, investment in women’s teams is stronger than ever. At the same time, youth soccer has exploded — becoming a billion dollar business made of new leagues with tiered structures and a push for hyper-competitive environments before players have the chance to develop both physically and mentally.

“Through all the growth and changes, one area of women’s soccer hasn’t changed: the mindset of the female athlete. We consistently see youth players to professional players struggle to maintain their mindset through the highs and lows of competitive sports. From overcoming societal doubt in the women’s side of sport, lack of funding, overuse injuries, the pressure to play in a man’s world, and a lack of consistency, many girls have struggled in silence as these pressures have mounted. Most recently these struggles have come to a head with a wave of emotional abuse and sexual misconduct at all levels. On top of that, we see athletes struggling with their mental health. 74% of girls say they are under pressure to please. (Girls Inc). Rates of females feeling depressed, anxious, sleep-deprived, body-shamed and emotionally burned out are rising post-pandemic.

“We are proud of how far women’s soccer has come, but recognize how far it needs to go. We saw gaps in the development of youth female athletes and wanted to find solutions. So, we developed a variety of mental skills and leadership development-centered programming to help female athletes advocate for themselves from a young age and provide resources to athletes at all ages who have experienced the challenges of competing in environments that aren’t always designed to help players succeed.”

To learn more, visit https://www.femalefootballers.org/.

“The Bear & the Ball” is also available on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, and most other major podcast platforms. You can also access our full archive of past “The Bear & the Ball” episodes here.

Sign up for our Newsletter