February 27, 2023

Jozy Bardsley - "the 1.8% club"

I first met Jozy Bardsley last summer. I was taking photos for Sioux Falls City FC. Their first match of the season was in the Twin Cities. Jozy was coming off an injury and was not ready to come back to full contact soccer, but she rode on the bus anyway. That’s the first thing I noticed about her. This is a summer league, games to keep players in shape for their college season, something some players don’t take seriously. Even though she was injured, she was at practice and sat on a bus for 9+ hours to cheer on her team. That was the second thing I noticed about her, she was standing on the bench or on the sideline cheering on her teammates the whole game.

A little about Jozy’s soccer career:

Played club soccer at:

Tempo Soccer Club

South Dakota United 

Dakota  Alliance Soccer Club

4 year starter at Tea HS

18 goals, 28 assists 

three consecutive state final appearances (2015, 2016, 2017)

Team Captain her Senior year

4 years at Dakota Wesleyan University 

32 goals and 12 assists

All-Great Plains Athletic Conference second-team as a Sophomore

All-Great Plains Athletic Conference first-team as a Junior

All-Great Plains Athletic Conference first-team as a Senior

Sioux Falls City FC - Women’s Premier Soccer League

2 goals, 2 assists 

Midwestern State University

5th year (Covid year) while pursuing her Master’s Degree

3 goals and 1 assist

Photo courtesy of Jozy Bardsley

Photo courtesy of Jozy Bardsley

Jozy is a Black, gay, female soccer player from South Dakota. I asked her to share what Black History Month means to her.

Growing up in South Dakota, a predominantly white state that in 2010 had a staggering 1.8% population of Black residents. That percentage dropped dramatically in the small town where I grew up. It was just me, one tall brown girl with cornrows and a soccer ball on a boys' club soccer team. I joined a boys' club team at ten, and again, it was just me, the only girl on a boys club team. Today, as a 23-year-old Black Gay, Woman who plays college and semi-professional soccer while getting a master's degree, I strongly identify with being associated with underrepresented communities; others might say I am crazy; maybe it is both. 

Thirteen years ago, if someone had told me to write about why I celebrate Black History Month, my answer would have included plagiarized paragraphs from a textbook about MLK, Malcolm X, or Rosa Parks. However, as I have had the opportunity to embrace more of my history, I recognize that Black History Month is about celebrating the small, underrepresented, or overlooked things Black individuals have done and continue to contribute. While the iconic figures previously mentioned are and will forever be genuinely inspirational, there is so much more to Black History and many more names that should be discussed. Black history is US History; without it, there would be no home security systems to watch over your house at a soccer tournament. Dad would have no potato chips to snack on during the drive or three light traffic lights for mom to get stuck at on the way home—worst of all, no cellular phones for us all to even be reading this right now. Black History Month celebrates how vital Black individuals are within communities and the world. 

I am honored to be a part of the 1.8% club and to share what Black History Month Means to me. Therefore, I encourage everyone, especially Black youth, to embrace the opportunity to join their own "1.8% club" and celebrate all the achievements that people like you have created because being different is a privilege and honor. 

Black is Strong

Black is Smart

Black is Beautiful 

Black History our History

Jozy Bardsley, 2023

Thanks so much to Jozy for sharing with us!

All photos taken by Travis Gallipo unless noted in the caption.

Please feel free to reach out with any future story ideas. You can message me on social media or email me at tgallipo@gmail.com