Katie Hnida. My friend. My sister.
Katie Hnida. If you’ve followed NCAA football in the last 15 years, you’ve heard her name. The first woman to play Division 1 college football, and score a point while she was at University of New Mexico.
If you watched the Today Show in the early 2000’s, you may also recognize her name. She sat down with Katie Couric and talked about the story that had been made public, her speaking out about her rape at CU Boulder. In her book, Still Kicking, she talks not only about the assault she endured by a teammate, someone she called a friend, but also about the harassment she endured by the entire team.
Flash forward to April 1, 2014, the day I reached out to her for the first time, to share my own story. Prior to that, I was afraid to even say ‘hi’ to her on Twitter, the biggest reason being that she was this amazing, strong, public figure and I was (and am) just me. But finally, after sharing my story publicly online through the UnSlut Project, I worked up the courage and sent her a link. Never in 1,000,000 years did I think I would get a response back, and I never imagined that first Twitter reply would lead to the incredible bond we share today.
Katie Hnida has helped me through more than I could ever quantify. We talk about advocacy, we check in on each other, we have each other’s back. She gives me advice when I need it, and she pulls me out of the darkness my mind can sometimes be.
She’s more than my friend, she’s my sister, and I love her. We share a passion of helping others, other survivors, whenever and however we can, even if it’s just a listening ear to bear witness to a story, and help someone begin the healing process.
Katie and my mom also had something in common. Football. My mom played in the IWFL, a professional women’s soccer league, for the New York Sharks (#FinsUp!). Ironically, her name was Kate too (Both the same full first name, only Katie’s uses an a, my mom’s used an e). Both their numbers involved the number 2. My mom was 72, and Katie, 2.
I hope all of you out there, reading this, realize how special and how much of an amazing human being Katie Hnida is. She has an incredibly big heart, and I cannot wait to meet her, so I can give her the biggest hug in the entire world, and so we can cry together (what can I say, it’s what we do).