What many on the sidelines don’t know is they’re in the
presence of Kim Crabbe, the first African-American
woman to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team.
IT’S a hot summer day as two teams race down a field at Cape Fear
Regional Soccer Park — an all-boys community outreach team
in bright yellow vests versus a classic-level team of Wilmington
Hammerheads Youth FC girls.
Coach Kim Crabbe calls to her boys, “Easy, easy, find your feet.”
Her coaching style is firm but encouraging. “Let’s go quickly, get the
ball to the middle.”
As the game wanes, Edwin’s kick sends the ball grazing past the
goalie’s hands, giving the Outreach Starz their first goal. Celebrations
fill the air. For a moment, everyone forgets about the heat and score.
Even spectators can’t help but smile. The boys dance around the
field, savoring their goal.
“You’d think it’s the World Cup around here,” jokes Crabbe.
What many on the sidelines don’t know is they’re in the presence
of Kim Crabbe, the first African-American woman to play for the
Today, she works
for the Wilmington
As the game
players run to
her. Her team
might have been
outscored, but it
Each player receives
words of praise and
After the game, she
treats them to ice
cream. While some
would see this as
going above and
beyond, it’s her
“I can relate to
these kids as I was
like them in many
ways,” she says.
She grew up in
Reston, Virginia, a
outside of Wash-ington,
soccer was gaining
Her mom, a single
parent, worked three jobs, sheltering Crabbe and her two siblings
“I saw what my mom was doing for us and how hard she worked,
so it was only natural as the eldest to want to assist and help our
family however I could,” she says. “At times that could mean picking
up my younger sister Kacey from daycare and having her attend my
high school practices with me. I would see my mom come home
from working her 9-to-5 job then head off to her part-time retail job
or register people to vote. Looking back, I now better understand
that she was merely doing what she needed to do to make ends meet.
More importantly, she was instilling great values within myself and
A natural athlete, Crabbe displayed speed and skill playing neigh-borhood
tackle football with her male cousins. Her gym teacher,
Mr. Bryant, encouraged her abilities, particularly at soccer, which
excelled at the
sport and went
on to play for
When she was
a key player
on the team
that beat the
to win the
she began to
caught the eye
of Tar Heels
who called her
up when he
of the national
team in 1986.
Kim Crabbe coaches the Wilmington Hammerheads Outreach Starz U13-14 boys team in a game
versus a girls team from the Hammerheads Classic program at the Cape Fear Regional Soccer
Park in June.