One of the D.C. region’s largest youth sports organizations is rebranding itself, removing the name of a revolutionary figure with a racist past, as it prepares to recommit to provide soccer to area youth following the pandemic.
Formally known as DC Stoddert, the nonprofit youth soccer program will now be known as DC Soccer Club.
The name change is a response to a report from Mayor Muriel Bowser recommending name changes of over 150 landmarks for having names of “persons of concern,” according to a news release,
Haze McCrary, board chair of DC Soccer Club, said in a statement that embracing a new name would allow the organization to truly embrace its values for the D.C. “area and community.”
Founded in 1977, the organization began at Stoddert Elementary School in Northwest’s Glover Park neighborhood.
The former name is in reference to Benjamin Stoddert, the U.S.’ first Navy secretary. While Black sailors participated in the American Revolution, Stoddert banned them from naval service under his command in 1798.
DC School Club said on its website that it is dissociating from Stoddert, who was a slave owner, adding that his “racist history did not align” with the organization’s values of “diversity and inclusion.”
“DC Soccer Club is all about inclusivity and diversity, providing the game of soccer for all players of all backgrounds and levels,” McCrary said. “We could no longer reconcile what we offer to the D.C. community as DC Stoddert Soccer given what Benjamin Stoddert stood for.”
DC Soccer Club is the largest independent youth sports programs and the biggest for girls in the District, according to its website.
It offers various soccer programs, from recreational to travel, for roughly 10,000 participants of all ages and skill levels.
The nonprofit also provides opportunities for adults to receive coaching certification, referee training and teach soccer clinics.