Alyssa and Gisele Thompson are soccer stars who just may be shaping the future of the sport.
The Los Angeles residents have become the first high school athletes to sign a deal with Nike that enables 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 would definitely not be happening for women, especially, so it’s just insane to me how far we’ve come,” she told TODAY.
She also shoots down the notion that having a high school athlete act as a professional player is wrong.
“I don’t think it’s early because for us at least it’s not about the sponsorship or anything about that,” she said. “I think it’s about, obviously getting gear is nice, but having a platform for young girls to look up to and seeing girls closer to their age.”
While the sisters have excelled on the pitch, they played multiple sports as youngsters.
“We exposed them to everything,” their father, Mario Thompson, said. “That was something that was kind of not necessarily, ‘You’re going to be a great basketball or soccer (player).’ It was just like let’s keep them busy.”
The sisters, who have committed to play soccer in college at powerhouse Stanford University and have won championships with their respective Team USA youth squads, have even appeared in Sports Illustrated.
“It’s crazy. Honestly, it’s surreal. I would never think I would be on Sports Illustrated,” Gisele told TODAY.
The sisters have also put their talents on display while playing in Major League Soccer’s youth boys’ league for years.
“It’s definitely different than the girls game. It’s a much faster pace and they’re also very strong,” Gisele said.
“They always saw it as competition. I don’t think it was necessarily a gender thing, particularly," their mother, Karen Thompson, said. "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’m a competitor and I’ve raised competitors,” Mario said.