For Community, By Community
In Season 3 Episode 4 of I So Appreciate You!, co-hosts Nadege Souvenir and Melanie Hoffert talk to Andrea Yoch, Co-Founder and Chair of Minnesota Aurora FC, the first women-led and community-owned women’s soccer team in this country.
Andrea Yoch spent her entire career in sports mostly working for men. Although she received support from men throughout her career, she was no stranger to the limitations, lack of opportunities, and inequity the industry has historically been known for. When she started the Aurora soccer team with a small group of fellow sports lovers, she knew that she wanted to give women, people of color and other underrepresented groups more opportunities than she had. She and her co-founders believed that creating an inclusive, diverse and safe space not just for players but for the fans and spectators had to be a top priority.
“Part of what’s unique about this team, besides being community-owned, is that we founded it based on our values first. Soccer is absolutely a really important product, but it is not the whole thing. What’s really important for us is to have a space where everybody not only feels welcome but is actually welcome.”
From day one, the Aurora soccer team has valued inclusivity above all else. None of it would have been possible without the over 3,000 community-owners from 48 states and 8 countries who rallied together and raised money to create this innovative team. Within 6 months, they raised a million dollars, sold all of their shares, and started a team that is for the community, by the community. This group of community-owners have a say in what the team does, too – they even voted on the team’s name.
Knowing that everyday people have spent their hard-earned money and entrusted this group with it to create a team means a lot to Andrea. This aspect of accountability to their shareholders is one of the perks of being community-owned.
“It’s sports – you’re going to win and lose on the field. If we’re winning off the field, if we are doing the things we promised our community we are going to do, then we’ve won. That’s for community, by community. This is for all of us. It’s not just for this little group that founded the team – it’s for everybody. The more everybody feels that they’re a part of that, the more successful we will continue to be.”
Andrea also shares with Nadege and Melanie the importance of having an honest conversation about strengths and weaknesses when starting something new, what all the team is doing to further connect to the community and gives an update on how Aurora is doing after two successful seasons.
Minnesota Aurora FC
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