ESPN's Sarah Spain, gold medalist Kendall Coyne Schofield part of Red Stars' new ownership group

The NWSL is continuing to see high-powered women from a wide range of fields make serious investments in their teams. The latest is the Chicago Red Stars, who introduced their new, diverse ownership group on Monday.

Award-winning ESPN reporter Sarah Spain and Olympic gold medal-winning hockey player and Chicago Blackhawks development coach Kendall Coyne Schofield are the headliners of the group, with Spain announcing her investment in a tweet.

Other women in the group include Julie Haddon, the NFL's senior vice president for global brand and consumer marketing, music industry executive and Chance the Rapper's manager Colleen Mares, and Marie Tillman, the widow of Pat Tillman and the founder and chairman of the Pat Tillman Foundation.

That group of female owners is joined by a group of male athletes and businessmen who are all supporters of the Red Stars and of women's sports in general. They include Coyne Schofield's husband Michael Schofield, a six-year NFL veteran, former Chicago Bears defensive end Israel Idonije, and a number of other "prominent current and former Chicagoans in business, technology and communications."

Founding and majority owner Arnim Whisler said in the statement that the new group of owners will be hands-on with the team.

We’ve begun the process of building a singular, powerful team that spans from the pitch to the boardroom. This group is more than mere investors. Everyone involved cares deeply about the city of Chicago and the success of the Chicago Red Stars, the NWSL, and women's sports. It’s time for the Red Stars to shine even brighter.”

NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 21: ESPNW columnist and ESPN reporter Sarah Spain speaks at the espnW Women + Sports Summit at The Resort at Pelican Hill on October 21, 2019 in Newport Beach, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
ESPN reporter and columnist Sarah Spain has joined the ownership group of the Chicago Red Stars. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Spain inspired by other NWSL owners

The Washington Spirit and 2022 expansion team Angel City FC both rolled out impressive ownership groups recently, which include prominent athletes, actresses, entrepreneurs and public figures. Those landmark ownership groups inspired Spain to become an owner herself.

Spain told the Chicago Sun-Times that she was inspired to become an NWSL owner by Angel City FC owner and USWNT Olympic gold medalist Julie Foudy. However, when she joked with Foudy, Abby Wambach and Glennon Doyle at an ESPNW summit, she had no idea that she would actually become an owner.

“At the ESPNW Summit, one of my panels was with Abby Wambach and Glennon Doyle,” Spain said. “Abby talked in her book about if they don’t give you a seat at the table, screw pulling up a chair and build a new table. I think I kind of joked with [Julie] Foudy and Glennon and Abby, saying, ‘Well, I’m going to be an owner.’ ”

Coyne Schofield and her husband are both committed to supporting and expanding women's sports, but they told the Sun-Times that a conversation with Spain helped them make their final decision to invest in the Red Stars. Schofield said that he hopes that their investment in the Red Stars will inspire others.

“Kendall is one of the hardest-working athletes I know,” Schofield said. “Women’s sports don’t get the respect they deserve. By us investing in it, we hope that it helps grow the women’s game. And when I say the women’s game, I mean all of them.”

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