Lindsay Kennedy-Eversmeyer: Empowering Young Women through Soccer
Written by Ashley Biundo
A local men’s major soccer club drew significant attention when it made history in 2005. And the team had a 24-year-old woman from the St. Louis Metro East to thank for it.
Maryville, Illinois, native Lindsay Kennedy-Eversmeyer started playing select soccer at 10 years old and grew up competing for local teams like Jamestown Stars, Coca-Cola, Liebe, and J.B. Marine. She attended Alton Senior High School, where she set the school record for goals in a season (47). After four successful years on the varsity soccer squad, Eversmeyer decided to continue her playing career at the University of Kansas.
“I did really well there, I was a starter and named Big 12 Player of the Week in my third week, but I got homesick. The playing wasn't an issue, it was transferring from a little town into a huge Division 1 program. The school and the demand for everything was a little much. I wanted to transfer home.”
Her next three seasons would be played at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis. She set six different records as a Hornet and was named AMC Most Valuable Player in 2000, becoming the only Haris-Stowe player in history to receive it. Following college, Eversmeyer played a couple of seasons for the St. Louis Archers in the Women's Premier Soccer League until she was ready to take her playing career to the next level.
“I'm super competitive and although I liked playing women’s soccer, the level I was at during that time wasn't pushing me. So I started playing in a men's indoor league with some of my friends, which I loved because it's competitive.”
And that helped her reach her goal of playing professionally. Eversmeyer was hanging out with some of her friends after a St. Louis Steamers game one night and ran into the owner. The Steamers, who played in the Major Indoor Soccer League, were looking for a way to bring more fans to the games.
“I said, ‘You should put a girl on your team.’ He said, ‘Well, do you know of a good one?’ And I responded, ‘Me!’”
After trying out for the Steamers, Eversmeyer made her debut for the team in February 2005 against the Milwaukee Wave, becoming the first female in history to play men's professional indoor soccer. Following her appearance, the team signed her to a five-game contract. Though it was short, her time with the Steamers left a long-lasting impact.
“It was a great experience because of the whole atmosphere, knowing what it's like to be a professional athlete and see the perks of it. These little girls came up to me saying, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so amazing. I want to do this.’”
Eversmeyer’s teammates were also full of admiration for what she was doing. Former Steamer defender Justin McMillian remembers the excitement around Lindsey that helped fill the arena and how she quickly became a role model to many young girls.
“Any time someone does something special or out of the ordinary, there will always be people who question or dislike it. Lindsay had to deal with a lot of that,” McMillian said. “Mentally, she had to overcome those obstacles and focus on what she accomplished for herself and for the females in the sport of soccer. I feel she did that well and always had a smile on her face, even when it may have been difficult.”
Knowing the criticism she may face, Eversmeyer still believed she could do it. And she did. Because she believed in herself, other females began to do the same.
“People were respecting women's soccer a little more,” Eversmeyer said. “When I traveled to other games, these little girls would say. ‘Hey, I can do this, I want to do this.’ I feel like I'd put a little bit more belief, and maybe a little bit more confidence in them.”
Eversmeyer’s impact on women’s soccer extends beyond her time on the pitch. There weren’t many options for women to play soccer in St. Louis after college and she wanted to change that. In 2013, she founded Fire & Ice Soccer Club, which competes in the Women's Premier Soccer League, to provide nationwide exposure and an opportunity for women to play at a premier level. In her first season coaching the new local team, Eversmeyer led the team to a Midwest Region Championship and received the honor of Midwest Coach of the Year. As Head Coach, she has since taught a significant amount of players who have gone on to play professionally in either the National Women’s Soccer League or abroad.
Former Fire & Ice Forward Nicole Howard played under Eversmeyer for four seasons. When thinking back on her post-college playing career, it's her former coach’s playing style she admires the most.
“Her strengths are the relationships she builds with her players, and her knowledge of soccer. If you put those two things together, it makes the perfect coach. She is someone I can go to for soccer advice and someone I look up to when it comes to women in soccer.”
After its successful first six years that saw a National Championship title in 2017, Eversmeyer was ready to expand Fire & Ice to include an all-girls youth academy. Joining her as Assistant Club Director was St. Louis’ very own U.S. Women’s National Team member and current Maryville University Head Coach Lori Chalupny-Lawson. The Academy became the only female-led, all-girls club in St. Louis that included a pathway from the youth levels to professional levels across the world. Just like when she signed a contract with a men’s professional team, Eversmeyer turned another dream of hers into a reality because she believed she could.
“One of the things in my life that motivated me was people telling me I couldn't do something. From the beginning when I was little, ‘You can't play with boys.’ Watch me. I've had coaches tell me, ‘You'll never be able to play D1 soccer.’ Watch me. ‘You're never going to make it on the Steamers.’ Watch me. ‘You're never going to be able to have a successful WPSL team.’ Watch me. ‘You're never going to be able to start a club.’ Watch me. Did it. Don't ever tell me something that I cannot do.”
Eversmeyer made her initial mark on St. Louis Soccer in the early 2000s, but her history-making only continued. When she first threw on her Steamers uniform, her goal was to inspire female athletes. Fast-forward to today, she remains an inspiration, guiding and empowering young players through what she has all along – soccer.