March is Women's History Month. This month and every month, we are committed to telling the stories of women that shape the USL and create the leagues we love today.
All South Bend Lions Chief Progress Officer Monika Scott ever wanted to do was help out.
"In America, if you're interested in something, you get picked to be involved," Scott said. It's how she landed a spot on the board of her children's youth soccer clubs as they shared her passion for the sport.
Before then, Scott had only been interested in soccer as a spectator - a first generation American, her family's love for Bayern Munich and the German National Team helped shape her sporting interest. She smiles as she talks about visiting Soldier Field with her family in 1993 as Germany defeated the United States Men's National Team 4-3.
From that position with her children's youth club, she only continued to rise. She moved into the president's role of that same club before moving into an administration position at Indiana Youth Soccer.
"I've pretty much seen the gamut," Scott said. "From rec soccer, local soccer leagues, and then national. Now [my youngest daughter] is a freshman in college, and there are no kids in the house. So a couple years ago, [Lions co-founder] Thiago Pinto...he needed help administratively."
Scott's background, expertise, and passion for grassroots soccer were a perfect fit for the Lions. Her goal now is to make summers in South Bend an extremely positive experience for players that play locally or come from far away.
"It's really luck, a lot of time, for what situation a player finds themselves in. If they happen to find a good coach, they happen to find a good team...There are a lot of situations that aren't a great advocate for youth sports," Scott said.
Getting involved with the Lions prolonged Scott's involvement with the sport and gave her another purpose to continue to help.
"Some of that has to do with opportunities for players who can't afford to make trips to practice," Scott said. "When we talked about developing an Academy, I thought it was really a game changer for some of the kids in this area. Even though it won't benefit my kids, I'm happy that it can maybe change some things for some kids here."
What began as a dream to support her children through their shared passion became years of work to make Indiana soccer better. She's seen some incredible highs already as a member of South Bend Lions leadership and has a ready-made answer for her favorite experience in South Bend so far.
"Our last game of the season, we had to win by seven goals to win the division," Scott said. "And I'm a realist! I said 'Great season guys, great season, this has been amazing.'"
Final score: Dayton Dutch Lions 0 - 8 South Bend Lions, and a trip to the playoffs for Scott's team.
Now, as Scott reflects on her rise as a woman in sport, she says that she wants to demonstrate the kind of leadership that her children can look up to.
"I didn't grow up playing the sport, but now I'm involved with it in an awesome way," Scott said. "And I hope I'm making a difference to the community... I hope I demonstrate that, that you don't have to have all the answers. You just have to be willing to work with people, and have a passion for it."
She says that a male-dominated soccer world is still the norm, but she sees change being affected every day.
"As every generation goes forward, I think we make progress," Scott said. "I don't expect everything to be solved in one day, but as long as we keep making progress, it's a good day."
"I hope that the stories being written now will inspire the next generation to raise the next ceiling."