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Ladue school district honors soccer star and equal pay advocate with field dedication

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Former high school coach Sweeney La Barge with Becky Sauerbrunn.

A force on the field and off, Ladue native Becky Sauerbrunn is famous for contributing to the national teams that won Olympic gold in 2012, and back-to-back World Cups in 2015 and 2019. The current captain of the U.S. Women’s National Team is now the namesake of the Ladue Schools soccer field, home of the Ladue Rams at her alma mater, Ladue Horton Watkins High School.

Sauerbrunn, a 2003 Ladue alumna, reflected on the field’s dedication in her honor in the high school’s newsletter, saying: “When I think about this field, and the happy moments and memories that can be made on it, I mean, what a gift you’ve given to me, that I will forever be tied to these happy moments.”

Her jersey number, No. 11, was officially retired after the 2019-20 school year. The Becky Sauerbrunn Field dedication and ribbon-cutting took place on May 29 of this year, which was declared Becky Sauerbrunn Day by St. Louis County.

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Missouri Rep. Ian Mackey, Missouri Rep. Tracy McCreery, Sauerbrunn, State Sen. Jill Schupp, Superintendent Jim Wipke.

“You have two prongs there,” Ladue Schools Superintendent Jim Wipke says about the impact that renaming the soccer field has had. “It put a highlight not only on our alumna, Becky Sauerbrunn. It also highlighted things she stands for – most notably, equitable pay and her profession.”

Sauerbrunn became a national hero again – and a role model for female athletes around the globe – when her efforts, alongside those of her teammates Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, resulted in the landmark May 18 announcement that athletes in both the men’s and women’s national team unions would receive equal compensation.

“The Women’s National Team had been working on that since the first (collective bargaining agreement) was penned, right after the 1999 Women’s World Cup,” Sauerbrunn says about the monumental victory for equal rights in the school’s newsletter. “And each agreement since has been a little bit closer, and a little bit closer, and we were lucky to be the current group that got it to go to equal pay.”

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Aerial view of the newly dedicated Becky Sauerbrunn Field.

The dedication drew student athletes from numerous sports, as well as fans from the community at large.

“There was a girl who waited in line – we had about 300 people there – and when she finally got to Becky, she couldn’t speak,” Wipke describes. “Tears were just rolling down her face. I think that tells it all right there – how much Becky means to our school district community and the soccer community as a whole.”

He adds: “Becky can continue to have such a powerful impact on Ladue and our students.”

Her former high school coach, Sweeney La Barge, says Sauerbrunn demonstrated leadership abilities even as a freshman.

“She played with girls that did not have her ability or skills, and she made every single one of them feel like they were just as good as she was,” he reflects. “She was a fabulous role model at that. It was never, ever, ever about Becky Sauerbrunn – it was always about everybody else, and it was always about the team. … She made everyone on the field better. She made her coaches better, and I definitely benefited from that.”

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Sauerbrunn cuts the ribbon with Ladue Schools Board of Education President Kisha Lee and Superintendent Jim Wipke, joined by district and local leadership and the LHWHS girls’ soccer team.

As the current defender for the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League, Sauerbrunn is looking ahead to the 2023 World Cup with high hopes, she shares in the school’s newsletter.

“Becky Sauerbrunn is the real thing,” La Barge says. “There’s no pretense there. That’s exactly who [she] has been since she was a kid. … The way she’s looking down the field right now? She’s been doing that since she was 14 years old, playing for me. I smile from ear to ear whenever I watch her play.”

Ladue Schools, 9703 Conway Road, Ladue, 314-994-7080, ladueschools.net

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Digital editor and staff writer Amanda Dahl has a love for all things beautiful, from people trying to change the world for the better to fashion and beauty to picturesque places found around the globe.

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