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Emily Cosler, a golf star at Sandburg, gets up to speed with US Soccer Federation. ‘Safety is the foundation.’ – Chicago Tribune

Emily Cosler walked into her new place of employment on Oct. 3.

Cosler, an Orland Park native and Sandburg graduate, arrived in the morning at the new Chicago office of the United States Soccer Federation to begin in her role as a strategy extern.

It all started off routinely enough.

“I was getting up to speed,” Cosler said. “I was getting my laptop and talking with people. It was typical, day one kind of thing.”

After lunch?

Well, things weren’t typical — and haven’t been ever since.

The Yates report was released, identifying and addressing sexual and verbal abuse cases in the National Women’s Soccer League.

It was a bombshell for many, including the office rookie.

“Leadership was definitely aware, and our board of directors committed to releasing that report in full,” Cosler said. “We, being US Soccer, knew it was coming out that day. But me, being Emily Cosler, on day one, did not know.”

Cosler, who said she quickly got up to speed, knew some of the background because she had followed the sport closely since 2019.

At Sandburg, she was a golf star, helping the Eagles qualify for the state meet for the first time in school history. Soccer was never in the mix in high school.

Cosler played soccer when she was young but stopped in fifth grade to concentrate on golf.

But after graduating from TCU, she took a keen interest in soccer.

“What drew me to the sport was the 2019 Women’s World Cup,” Cosler said. “It was a huge year. The women won that year, and they were in the middle of an equal pay lawsuit with the federation.

“I care a lot about gender equality in sports, and it’s something I’m really passionate about. I saw that group as trailblazers. I followed closely what they were doing.”

Cosler, who had been working for Bain & Company in Dallas as a consultant, became a six-month extern for US Soccer. She’s not sure what will happen after that time runs out, but she’s getting a lot done while she’s there.

By her second day on the job, she was named as the program leader for participant safety efforts. In four months, she has helped form policy and standards.

The US Soccer Federation announced Monday it would amend licensing standards in conjunction with developing the Safe Soccer program.

Cosler described a tiered rollout that will take 3-5 years to implement but will have a far reach from the NWSL and Major League Soccer to youth leagues.

Sandburg's Emily Cosler watches her tee shot during a golf meet on Monday, Sept. 7, 2015.

Sandburg girls golf coach Todd Allen keeps in touch with Cosler. He’s proud of the important role she’s playing in women’s sports.

“It’s no surprise,” Allen said. “Coming in as a freshman, she was an outstanding student, golfer and person.

“She is doing exactly what she wants to do and is very successful and made a big impact in a short amount of time. Even before this, she has been an advocate for women in sports.”

On Jan. 13, Cosler was a part of a town hall presentation on safety at the United Soccer Coaches Convention in Philadelphia, which drew more than 12,000 people.

Cosler joined soccer players Shannon Boxx and Mana Shim to speak to the sport’s leaders and coaches.

Aside from some of the ugliness the NWSL has faced off the field, Cosler said the product overall is in good shape.

“The NWSL on their 10th year anniversary is on the cusp of really growing,” Cosler said. “Businesses are taking notice and want to invest.

“For me, (someone) who cares about building gender equity in the sport, safety is the foundation for all of this.”

Jeff Vorva is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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