PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Jaelene Hinkle chose not to play for the U.S. women’s national team last year because her religious beliefs prevented her from wearing a jersey that commemorated LGBTQ Pride Month.
Hinkle revealed the reason for her decision last June in an interview with the Christian talk show The 700 Club, which posted a video Wednesday on its website. No reason for her absence was given by the national team at the time.
“I just felt so convicted in my spirit that it wasn’t my job to wear this jersey,” she said.
Hinkle has not been called up to the national team since.
A defender, Hinkle plays for the North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League. The Courage visited the Portland Thorns on Wednesday night, and there were boos heard when she was announced in the starting lineup. Some waved rainbow Pride flags.
The 25-year-old Hinkle, who played soccer at Texas Tech, didn’t comment after the match, a 4-1 Courage victory.
“She is high on her faith, and in my honest option that’s absolutely incredible,” teammate Jessica McDonald said. “If she’s for God, then that’s fine, that’s great if that’s what keeps her going in her life and keeps positivity in her life, then let that be.”
Courage coach Paul Riley said he heard the boos and echoed McDonald’s sentiment.
“She’s got a good heart, and she battled through the game. It’s not an easy thing for her,” Riley said. “I give her a lot of credit to be perfectly honest. Whatever her beliefs are, whatever she believes in, that’s her. It doesn’t affect the team. It doesn’t seem to affect anybody on the team.”
On Thursday afternoon, Courage owner Steve Malik posted a statement on Twitter that did not mention Hinkle by name.
“Soccer welcomes everyone. Our actions clearly speak for that support. Pride and Faith Nights are not incompatible. Faith acted on in personal conviction harming no one else deserves respect just as much as creating a welcoming environment for all,” Malik wrote.