After she scored a goal during the U.S. Women's soccer team's 8-0 victory over Costa Rica during a friendly match in Pittsburgh on Sunday, Meghan Klingenberg ran around Heinz Field waving a Terrible Towel. Klingenberg, who grew up in the Pittsburgh area, knows well the region's obsession with its sports teams, particularly the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers. The yellow Terrible Towel is a rally flag for Steelers fans, and if everyone in western Pennsylvania didn't already love Klingenberg, they do now. But even though it's one of the more recognizable rally flags in professional sports, many don't know the inspiring backstory of the Terrible Towel, which was created by late Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope in 1975, to get fans excited about a game against Baltimore.
In 1996, Cope signed over the trademark rights for the towel to the Allegheny Valley School, which provides care for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Cope's own son Danny, born severely brain-damaged, has been a resident of the school since 1982. So the Allegheny Valley School receives proceeds from every sale of the ubiquitous rally towel.
Klingenberg isn't the only member of the USWNT who has represented her community or otherwise given back; in fact, many members of the team are remarkably civic-minded.
Even before the U.S. team won the Women's World Cup in July, midfielder Megan Rapinoe was recognized for her 100th international appearance in May. She was only the 31st women's U.S. soccer player to reach that career milestone, according to ESPN. Usually winners receive a Rolex watch, and those ain't cheap: They cost thousands of dollars for even the "low end" models. Rapinoe asked the money instead be donated to the charity her twin sister Rachael works for, I-ACT. Among other charitable works, that organization has set up soccer academies for refugees in Darfur.
"I started looking around on watch sites, and thinking, 'This feels ridiculous to me.' It just didn't feel right," Rapinoe told ESPN. "So I thought I would give to something that I really care about and an organization that is amazing and does really good work."
The charities the USWNT team members donate their time and efforts to are as varied as the women themselves. Ali Krieger has long supported an organization called Miraclefeet, which works to provide treatment for children in developing countries with the birth defect clubfoot. Alex Morgan works with To Write Love on Her Arms, an organization which helps people with depression, addiction, and self-injury issues. And Carli Lloyd is a spokesperson for Sports Matter, which helps high school sports programs.
As they celebrate yet another victory and look forward to more games before appreciative American crowds, members of the USWNT have shown their impressive performance extends off the soccer pitch as well.