City's Bickerton Nominated For Two USL Changemaker Awards
Before Chicago City SC has played a single match in the USL, the club is already being recognized for its impact. Specifically, one key member of the club’s staff is the recipient of that recognition.
City COO and general manager Heather Bickerton is up for not one but two USL Changemaker awards. In that way, she demonstrates that there is more than one path to a successful career in soccer for women.
USL Changemaker Awards tap Bickerton as dual nominee
The USL Changemaker Awards are a collaboration between the league and Women In Soccer. There are a total of five awards up for grabs this year and winners should be announced soon.
Bickerton is among the nominees for both the Innovator and Visionary awards. The Innovator is a “one-time award for someone who mastered pivoting during the wildly unprecedented year,” while the Visionary recognizes creative leaders who provide unrivaled content experiences through digital or physical media.
Bickerton’s peers nominated her, saying she is “constantly moving the needle in find ways for us to partner and better engage our membership,” and she “embodies what it means to be a leader through passion, service, and care in the soccer industry.”
After receiving the nominations, Bickerton expressed her gratitude.
“I'm very honored to have been nominated,” Bickerton said. “A lot of hard work is put in behind the scenes so to have been recognized for my efforts and time is very heartwarming.”
For her, the club’s recent move to the USL and this recognition encapsulates decades of work. It’s also the fruit of her behind-the-scenes labor over that time.
Bickerton’s path to her current career in soccer
For Bickerton, her love of the game was a combination of her upbringing and the opportunities she capitalized on.
“As an English lass, football (soccer) is ingrained in me,” Bickerton explained. “Thanks to my family, I am a huge Blackburn Rovers Fan and have loved football since day one. I was the first girl on my primary school team. My dad helped create a girls’ football club at the age of 12 when we couldn't play with the boys anymore and ended up representing Blackburn Rovers when I was older.”
She moved to the United States on a soccer scholarship to the Illinois Institute of Technology. There, she played four years and was a captain as a senior. After that, she was a graduate assistant at North Park University and interned with both the Chicago Red Stars and Women’s Sports Chicago.
In 2013, she joined City as a volunteer coach. Three years later, she transitioned into marketing and administration. Two years later, she assumed her current roles and started focusing solely on the club’s business operations.
Because of her long history with the club and years of work to build it up to the current level of success, she sees the Changemaker awards as ways to continue to raise the club’s profile.
“It would mean the world to me to win one or both of the awards” Bickerton commented. “The USL Changemaker Awards are doing a great job of showcasing that there are more avenues for women in sports, not only as a player or coach but through a multitude of opportunities behind the scenes. I hope that this inspires more women in the game to continue to pursue their passions in sports and excel from the youth to the professional level.”
Regardless of where these awards ultimately land, Bickerton has definitely been a positive changemaker for City.
Voting is open until December 7th - https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HLZ5T9L