Lisa Wrightsman ’05 (Communication Studies) and Tiffany Fraser ’09 (Communication Studies)

Scoring societal change

Nonprofit groups are the fourth largest industry in California, representing 1 out of every 16 California jobs and generating $208 billion in annual revenue. 

Sacramento State alumni Lisa Wrightsman ’05 (Communication Studies) and Tiffany Fraser ’09 (Communication Studies) are hopping on that trend.

Former standout Hornet soccer players, Wrightsman and Fraser know what it takes to create a winning team. In fact the coaching duo recently took their team to a very special World Cup. 

“It’s definitely not the World Cup I originally had in mind for my soccer career,” admits Wrightsman, a leading goal scorer in Hornet history. “But taking our ladies to the Homeless World Cup is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

The mission of Street Soccer USA is simple: Use soccer to teach personal empowerment and prepare participants for success.   

Women and families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population, with 34 percent of the total homeless population composed of families and of those homeless families, 84 percent are headed by women. It has also been estimated that 50 percent of individuals who are chronically homeless have substance-use problems.1

Wrightsman says that over the last five years, 90 percent of Street Soccer Sacramento’s participants have maintained sobriety and connected to jobs, housing and education. 

As a former addict herself, Wrightsman was in a transitional housing program when she first learned about a street soccer program for men in similar circumstances. She eventually started coaching a women’s team, but realized she needed help with organizing and fundraising.  

Then came a chance encounter with Fraser. 

“Lisa had just returned from the Homeless World Cup and told me her story about finding a love of life through the game. It sounded a lot like what was missing in my own life,” shares Fraser. 

So the two teamed up with the goal of teaching women the skills needed to survive and thrive. 

“The first time I showed up for a practice, I saw players running the wrong direction and smoking on the sidelines,” adds Fraser. “But none of that matters in the long run. 

“We’re working on a curriculum of core life skills. We teach soccer and positioning on the field, but more importantly how to be supportive.” 

While former Hornets address homelessness off campus, current students are taking it on themselves to help displaced classmates. Associated Students has made housing a strategic priority, forming a task force to explore options for emergency shelter and other resources. Students also helped create a grant fund to provide financial assistance to those facing hardship. 

Twelve percent of students in a CSU study reported being homeless, says Danielle Munoz, case manager for Student Affairs. She’s found that shame can make them reluctant to ask for help but that’s changing.

“These are students who are eager to do the work, to graduate. They just have challenges,” Munoz says. “When they see their peers raising funds for the emergency fund, it reduces the stigma and it reduces isolation. It shows that they care.”

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