Alyssa and Gisele Thompson are football stars who may be shaping the future of the sport.
Los Angeles residents are the first high school athletes to sign a deal with Nike that allows the sneaker company to use their name, image and likeness in promos and advertisements.
Alyssa, 17, says she and Gisele, 16, have reaped the benefits of the efforts of women who came before them.
“It wouldn’t be possible without the people before us because maybe 30 years ago this definitely wouldn’t happen for women, especially women, so it’s just insane to me how far we’ve come,” she told TODAY.
She also rejects the idea that it is wrong to have a high school athlete perform as a professional player.
“I don’t think it’s early because for us at least it’s not about the sponsorship or anything like that,” she said. “I think it’s about, of course it’s nice to get stuff, but having a platform that young girls can look up to and see girls closer to their age.”
Although the sisters excelled on the field, they played multiple sports as youngsters.
“We exposed them to everything,” said their father, Mario Thompson. “That was something that wasn’t necessarily, ‘You’re going to be a great basketball or football player.’ It was like keeping them busy.”
The sisters, who committed themselves to college football at the powerhouse Stanford University and won championships with their respective Team USA youth teams, have even appeared in Sports Illustrated.
“It’s crazy. Honestly, it’s surreal. I would never think I’d be on Sports Illustrated,” Gisele told TODAY.
The sisters have also showcased their talents for years playing in Major League Soccer’s youth boys’ league.
“It’s definitely different from the girls game. It’s a much faster pace and they’re also very strong,” said Gisele.
“They always saw it as competition. I don’t think it had anything to do with gender per se, especially,” said their mother, Karen Thompson. “I think it was just an innate competitive thing in them.”
The desire to win is part of who they are and where they come from.
“I am a competitor and I have raised competitors,” said Mario.