by SARAH BOGAARDS
A video of Griff playing soccer in a pink wig is all it took to get Drake students asking, “Could it be?”
The teaser on Twitter and Facebook all but confirmed that yes, in fact, accomplished women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe will speak at the 41st edition of the Martin Bucksbaum lecture series.
Advertising and Marketing major Anne Hirschfield said she heard the news during class and rushed to confirm it on social media.
“Oh shit, Megan Rapinoe is going to be on campus,” she said was her first reaction to seeing the announcement.
Rapinoe is recognized globally for her skills and achievements in soccer; she became an Olympic gold medalist in 2012 and appeared in three consecutive World Cup tournaments, earning top honors for her performance in 2019.
Following these successes, Rapinoe has garnered an ardent fanbase and a platform she uses to advocate for equal pay, and rights for women, refugees and LGBTQ people.
As an athlete at Drake, sophomore Kristen Arias said she admires Rapinoe’s advocacy for women’s equality in “predominantly male” sports.
“She’s fighting for women to have a chance and I really appreciate that,” Arias said.
Hirschfield said she looks forward to having “such an influential person” on campus for her first Bucksbaum lecture.
Rapinoe acknowledged the position of influence she and the U.S. women’s national soccer team possess during a ceremony in New York celebrating the 2019 World Cup win.
“Yes, we play sports, yes, we play soccer, yes we’re female athletes; but we’re so much more than that, you’re so much more than that,” Rapinoe said.
A lead organizer of the Bucksbaum lecture series and Coordinator for the President’s Office Erica Hartschen said the soccer star’s personal attributes help deliver her message.
“She is a great example of bringing someone to the stage who has all sorts of platforms. … all the platforms that she speaks on and advocates for have come out of not only her success in her sport, but because she’s able to capture attention, and that takes charisma,” Hartschen said.
For the last 22 years, the Bucksbaum lecture has supplied the community with access to an all-star list of guests for no cost, which Hartschen said is now “unheard of.”
“These lectures are a gem, not only for the Drake community, but for the Des Moines community, really Iowa,” Hartschen said.
Rapinoe’s presentation will be a moderated Q&A session titled “Strength On and Off the Field.” Students will have the chance to submit questions for consideration, but the details are not yet finalized.
Hartschen said goals of this event are to create “provocative conversation” and to select a speaker who will “create a dialogue amongst everyone.”
Rapinoe draws public attention and sometimes criticism for steadily holding her convictions, a topic Hartschen says she thinks students should hear about.
“It’s good to hear from people like Megan Rapinoe who really is speaking to today’s generation of students in terms of how to be the best person you can be even though you might not have everyone liking you,” Hartschen said.
The announcement of Rapinoe’s visit resulted in mostly positive feedback, nevertheless, Hartschen said she especially invites those who disagree with the player in any capacity to attend, calling it “an opportunity of a lifetime.”
The lecture is on Monday, November 18 at 7 p.m. in the Knapp Center, no tickets are required. For more information, visit drake.edu/bucksbaum/ or contact Erica Hartschen at firstname.lastname@example.org.