Chicago Red Stars players Casey Short
and Rachel Hill,
at the center of the emotional moment along with teammate Julie Ertz
before their opening match at the NWSL Challenge Cup,
issued statements via their Twitter accounts on Tuesday for what was going through their minds on Saturday night.
When the national anthem was played, Short and Ertz knelt along with rest
of the Chicago starters and most of the Washington starters while Hill stood behind Short. Ertz embraced Short as her teammate on the U.S. national team cried.
After the match, which the
Red Stars lost to Washington, 2-1, their coach, Rory Dames
, said his players were emotionally spent even before the game began, but none of the three players in the emotional scene captured in
images distributed around the world were made available to the media on the NWSL's Slack channel set up for reporters to ask virtual questions.
On Tuesday, Short tweeted an explanation on
behalf of herself and Ertz, while Hill also issued a statement explaining her decision to stand. Both Short and Hill discussed the conversations they have been having in recent weeks.
In Short's case, she talked about the "hard conversations" she's been having with Ertz.
"The two of us have always
set out to be our honest and true selves," she wrote, "but have struggled to find the 'right' thing to do in order to show our truth. We understand people are entitled to their opinions. Often these
opinions are presented through the individual’s lens and do not accurately portray how the two of us truly feel."
Short said the conversations she has had with Hill "have been
unapologetically authentic. I have to ask where my hope lies. It lies in my faith and those types of conversations that have been long overdue. The types of conversations that are raw and
uncomfortable, that can lead to real impactful change."
Short said she and Ertz were touched by the support they received in response to Saturday's pre-game ceremonies.
"Currently, every time the national anthem is played, our country continues to become more and more divided on what the visual symbol of unity looks like," Short and Ertz said. "Through our continuous
conversations we wanted to make sure that whatever we decided to do, it would not be an empty gesture. It would be a gesture that portrayed that we have heard those who needed to be heard, validated
and loved. That moment during the anthem was difficult, very difficult. We are still searching but we are humbled by the outpouring of support."
Hill, who also evoked her faith, said she
supported her teammates and the Black Lives Movement wholeheartedly and it was "way past due for me to be diligently anti-racist."
Hill, who was traded to Chicago from Orlando in January, chose to stand "because of what the flag inherently means to my military family members and me." At one point, she put her hand
on Short's shoulder.
"Symbolically," she wrote, "I tried to show this with the placement of my hand on Casey’s shoulder and bowing my head. I struggled, but felt that these actions
showed my truth, and in the end I wanted to remain true to myself."