A week before their first Challenge Cup match, OL Reign announced a trade that sent defender Madison Hammond to Angel City FC in exchange for Angel City’s natural second round pick 2023 draft pick and $45,000 in allocation money.
Hammond, who made history as the first Native American player in the league, joined the club in 2020. After going undrafted, she was invited to preseason camp as a non-roster invitee, and Hammond quickly impressed the coaching staff — signing with the team ahead of the 2020 Challenge Cup. She made her debut in September 2020 during the NWSL Fall Series in OL Reign’s 2-2 draw against the Utah Royals and went on to play 195 minutes for the Reign throughout the four matches that closed out the piecemeal 2020 season.
.@OLReign's @gohaamm is the first Native American to play in the @NWSL. She spoke to Men in Blazers about her journey and how she plans to use her platform. #Courage@OLReign kick off their #NWSLFallSeries campaign Tuesday night at 10 p.m. ET against @ThornsFC on @Twitch. pic.twitter.com/OU0SpzENgW— Men in Blazers (@MenInBlazers) September 14, 2020
“We want to wish Madison all the best in her new adventure with Angel City FC, as well as thank her for her time at OL Reign, her professionalism and for her many contributions to the club and community,” said new OL Reign General Manager Nick Perera.
Hammond, a versatile player, slotted in at right back, left back, and centerback in her two seasons with the club. She also played as a defensive midfielder in her substitute appearance in the Reign’s preseason match against Portland last week. In 2021, Hammond played 90 minutes in all four of OL Reign’s Challenge Cup matches. During the regular season, she played in 13 games and made 10 starts. She finished the year with 853 minutes, 23 clearances, nine interceptions, four blocks, and six key passes.
On Twitter, OL Reign head coach Laura Harvey said, “Good luck to this amazing human. We miss you already, but go smash it.”
Hammond, who is entering her third year in the league, has made a huge impact already both on and off the field. Last year, she was one of a few Nike athletes that designed shoes for Nike’s N7 collection, which the shoe company launched to “honor the values, stories, and diversity of Indigenous traditions and craft.”
In a conversation on the Coffee & Valkyries podcast, Hammond had this to say about making history as the first Native American player in the league and getting featured in a Men In Blazers video:
“I was actually talking to Jasmyne Spencer about, ‘I want to play and I want to get on the field and I know I’m a rookie. What if it doesn’t matter if I’m the first Native American in the league?’ And she literally looked at me and goes, ‘You could never step on the field and it is still incredible. No one can ever take that away from you and it’s going to open so many doors for people.’ I think for me that’s when it really set in.
The Men in Blazers video got a ton of views on Twitter, but I hadn’t looked at Facebook because I never go on Facebook anymore, and it was actually a family member who told me it had a ton of views on there. A lot of people from where I’m from in Albuquerque and a lot of Native people had seen the video on Facebook and their comments were like, ‘Keep going!’ ‘We believe in you!’ ‘Thank you for representing us!’ And so for me that was like wow – this is not only really cool, it’s just a big honor not only to be here, but get to represent something way bigger than you.”
In addition to making history on the pitch, Hammond has worked behind the scenes to make a difference in how women’s sports are covered. Only 4% of media coverage is dedicated to women’s sports, and Hammond is part of an effort to change that. She joined Seattle Storm legend Sue Bird, Alex Morgan and others to launch TOGETHXR (pronounced “Together”), a media and commerce company designed to elevate women’s voices.
“There are so many different stories that can be powered by sport and it doesn’t have to just be, you know, the biggest athletes you can think of. It’s really women and girls doing really cool bad-ass things just because we can, and that’s just our strengths to be quite honest. And I’m just really happy to be a part of it,” Hammond shared last year during a YachtCon session.
At 24 years old, Hammond — who is also a member of the Black Women’s Player Collective — still has a lot to give to the sport. While it may be a tough loss for Reign fans to accept, the defender will be close to her sister, who lives in LA, and will have a chance to earn meaningful minutes at expansion club Angel City this year, which has some holes to fill on the defensive line after Sarah Gorden was ruled out with an undisclosed knee injury and Paige Nielsen recovers from a surgery to remove a rib to release compression of a vein.