NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Former Notre Dame women’s soccer player Lindsay Brown (Newport Beach, Calif./Mater Dei) won a national championship on the field with the Fighting Irish in 2010, and two years later, she has been recognized as a champion for her work in empowering young girls and women around the world through the sport of soccer.
As a result of her dedicated service to those less fortunate, Brown was named the 2012 winner of the “Pretty Amazing” Contest from Seventeen magazine. The selection process not only factored in Brown’s inspirational accomplishments, but also her “reliability and `it’ factor.” In addition to earning a $20,000 scholarship from Neutrogena Wave for Change, Brown appears on the cover and is featured in a two-page article in the October 2012 issue of Seventeen, which was mailed to the magazine’s two million subscribers Tuesday, and is appearing on newsstands now.
Brown, who is currently finishing work on her bachelor’s degree in political science from Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters, was chosen as this year’s award winner from among 35,000 nominees through a combination of public voting and evaluation by a distinguished panel of judges, including Hollywood actress Emma Roberts, the niece of Academy Award winner Julia Roberts, along with Jared Eng, the founder of celebrity blogs “Just Jared” and “Just Jared Jr.”, and Ann Shoket, the editor-in-chief of Seventeen.
Brown learned of her selection as this year’s “Pretty Amazing” award recipient during a surprise ceremony Tuesday morning at her on-campus job in the Notre Dame Career Center. The Fighting Irish women’s soccer players and coaches, led by head coach Randy Waldrum, the famous Notre Dame Leprechaun and a video crew from Seventeen’s “Pretty Amazing TV”, were on hand to deliver the exciting news to Brown and reveal copies of the magazine with her cover photo for the first time.
Brown has spent much of her college career following closely along the path of Notre Dame’s mission statement, which notes that “the University seeks to cultivate in its students not only an appreciation for the great achievements of human beings, but also a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression that burden the lives of so many. The aim is to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice.”
To that end, Brown has spent the past three years working closely with She’s The First, a national non-profit organization that supports girls’ education in the developing world. During the fall of 2010, Brown led a group of Notre Dame women’s soccer players in organizing a campus bake sale around the creation of special tie-dyed cupcakes. The treats were so popular that they sold out (all 200 of them) in 90 minutes, and Brown and her teammates (who went on to win in the NCAA national championship in December 2010) wound up raising enough money to sponsor three young girls at the Kopila Valley Primary School in Surkhet, Nepal.
The following summer, Brown traveled to Nepal to serve as a teacher at Kopila Valley, and also form the school’s first girls’ soccer team. In a culture where women are not often accepted as equals, Brown’s efforts to give these young girls a team of their own were groundbreaking.
“At first they were so submissive but within two months the girls got so much better,” she said. “It was crazy to see how much more they jumped in during school and could stand up to the boys when it was their day to practice. They’ll probably never even get to play a game because there are no other teams around, but when they played they got just as excited as we were when we won the national championship.”
When Brown returned to Notre Dame in the fall of 2011, she had a new goal — to expand her cupcake sales and reach a wider audience. Through the She’s The First web site, Brown shared her cupcake recipe with high school and college groups around the country, sparking a movement for a national tie-dyed cupcake bake sale during the first week of November. More than 100 schools from 35 states took part in the event, and collectively, Brown and She’s The First raised more than $22,000, enough to sponsor the education of an additional 48 Nepalese girls at Kopila Valley.
Eventually, Brown’s devotion to service led her to decide that her future lay in helping others, rather than continuing her playing career with the Fighting Irish. With the full support of Waldrum and her teammates, Brown stepped away from the soccer pitch to focus her extracurricular energies entirely on helping those less fortunate.
“It was a painful decision, but I wanted to focus on something larger than myself,” Brown said.
“At the end of the day that was an easy decision,” Waldrum added. “We knew where she really needed to be, and it wasn’t going to do any good to try to talk her out of it.”
In addition to her current role as the president of the Notre Dame chapter of She’s The First, Brown has expanded her efforts to empower young women through soccer to other parts of the globe. In the past year, she has made trips to Cambodia to work with young victims of sex trafficking, as well as Kenya, another nation where women are not encouraged (and in some cases, forbidden) to play sports.
In 2011, Brown took part in the Google Zeitgeist Americas Conference in Paradise Valley, Ariz., where she was selected as one of “10 Young Minds That Will Change The World” and attended a series of master classes. She also had the chance to network with such notables as former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, English business magnate and Virgin Group chairman Sir Richard Branson, and Cindy McCain, the wife of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the 2008 GOP presidential nominee.
That same year, Brown traveled to San Diego to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU), created by President Clinton in 2007 to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses.
In 2012, Brown started her own non-profit organization called The SEGway Project (which stands for Soccer Empowering Girls Worldwide and You) as a vehicle for female athletes in the United States to connect with young women in developing countries, coach them in various sports and help set up clinics and leagues.
To read more about Brown’s participation and selection in the 2012 Seventeen “Pretty Amazing” Contest, visit the magazine’s web site at www.seventeen.com/prettyamazing. Fans also can learn more about She’s The First through its official web site, www.shesthefirst.org.
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s soccer program, follow the team on Twitter (@NDsoccer or @NDsoccernews), like the program on Facebook (facebook.com/NDWomenSoccer) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the main page at UND.com.
— ND —