A realization of the lack of player power and agency in the National Women’s Soccer League has been one of the more poignant lessons from the ongoing, months-long fallout in the league following reports of abusive behaviors fostered within various team environments. The power dynamics are created in part by the league’s single-entity structure which restricts players from formally controlling their ability to change teams within the league. The NWSL Players Association is aiming to improve those conditions through ongoing negotiations for a first collective bargaining agreement.
Players are already at the bargaining table, but now one of their own will be part of the NWSLPA’s formal leadership. Sydney Miramontez begins her role as business agent for the NWSLPA on Jan. 1, 2022, doubling the union’s full-time staff. It’s a small but significant step for the NWSLPA, which only became legally recognized three years ago. Former professional player turned attorney Meghann Burke became the PA’s first full-time employee earlier this year, when she was announced as executive director.
Miramontez, who retired from playing at the end of the NWSL season which concluded last month, will be tasked with overseeing all the PA’s business affairs and relieving Burke of some items on her demanding workload. Miramontez will bring experience she says players appreciate given the trying recent few months and the ongoing collective bargaining negotiations.
“It’s important to have a player in this role that the current players can trust and know that they’ve lived this experience.” Miramontez told The Equalizer. “They are going to be making decisions that are in our best interest because they’ve lived it.”
Miramontez, whose younger sister, Sinclaire, plays in the NWSL and was recently picked up by OL Reign, first retired two years ago, in part due to health issues and partly because she was curious about life outside of soccer, she said. She entered the job market the same week that the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world in March 2020, meaning her dream of working at an advertising agency — to apply her studies from the University of Nebraska — would have to wait. Miramontez took a remote position working as an account coordinator for an online food ordering service for her first exposure to the corporate world. She also participated in the Harvard Crossover into Business Program, which helps athletes transition to the business world. Still, the itch play remained.
Utah Royals FC’s demise led to the return of the NWSL to Kansas City in December 2020. Miramontez grew up in Kansas City and remains there today. She returned to the field in 2020 for the team now known as the Kansas City Current, a squad which had a challenging year and finished in last place after a hurried start to the franchise.