Jaelene Hinkle is a 25-year-old American soccer player who currently plays for the NWSL’s North Carolina Courage. Last June, the defender was named to the USWNT’s roster to play in a couple friendlies, but refused the call-up, citing “personal reasons.” In a recent interview, the devout Christian athlete explained that her decision was motivated by her desire not to wear the USWNT’s special LGBTQ Pride Month jersey.
In the interview in question, which Hinkle gave to the 700 Club, Hinkle went over her athletic experiences and talked about how her religious faith has affected them. Eventually, she got to her choice back in June of 2017 to snub the USWNT:
In summary, she was called up to the national team—and not for the first time, as she’s already racked up eight U.S. caps in her career so far—and had planned on going. Just days before the match, however, the team announced that they would be sporting LGBTQ Pride Month-themed jerseys. Here’s what Hinkle said about her response to learning of the Pride jerseys:
I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey. And I gave myself three days to just seek and pray and determine what He was asking of me to do in the situation.
I’m essentially giving up the one dream little girls dream about their entire life, and I’m saying no to. It was very disappointing.
Hinkle’s stance against LGBTQ rights has been well-known to close followers of the women’s soccer scene for years now.
Even the day the USWNT announced Hinkle’s absence from the roster she’d been included on in 2017, many speculated that her “personal reason” was in fact her objection to the team’s Pride jerseys.
Hinkle hasn’t received another call-up to the national team since turning them down last year. In the interview with the 700 Club, Hinkle said she’s aware that she might’ve ended her national team career with that decision not to join the team. “If I never get a national team call-up again, that’s just part of his plan and that’s ok,” she said. “And maybe this was why you were meant to play soccer. Just to show other believers to be obedient.”
The 700 Club released the interview just yesterday, and it didn’t take long for news of Hinkle’s admission to spread. Last night, the Courage played an away game against the Portland Thorns, and Portland’s fans made sure to voice their displeasure with Hinkle. The Oregonian reports that Hinkle was booed by the Portland crowd when her name was announced.
In the postgame press conference, the Courage’s coach, Paul Riley, and one of their players, Jessica McDonald, came out in support of Hinkle. Said Riley: “[Hinkle] was emotional after the game, but she’s got a good heart and she battled through the game. It’s not an easy thing for her. I give her a lot of credit to be perfectly honest with you. Whatever her beliefs are, whatever she believes in, that’s her. It doesn’t affect the team, it doesn’t seem to affect anybody on the team.”