Heather Mitts, Executive Producer and Series Narrator
When I first heard about this project, I thought, “it’s about time.” I’ve been around this game my whole life. I’ve been inspired by these women, and what’s happening all around the world with the growth of girls' and women’s soccer. There are just so many great stories to tell. Stories of overcoming obstacles and adversity, stories of individual triumph, as well as the bonds that form and the community it develops among girls and women out there playing this great game. That’s why I’m supporting this project. That’s why I’m on the Kicking the Gates team.
I've played soccer all my life. Now that I have two daughters who also play, I feel especially determined to carry on the passion for the game—beyond the two days a week I coach, beyond going to matches and cheering on the team. I've been thinking about doing something big and meaningful with this for several years. But working with the American Outlaws in Brazil in 2014 was really what put this idea in motion. There I was in the soccer mecca of the world, with people playing everywhere, from sandy beaches, to dirt lots, to urban alleys. But, the only women playing were the ones from the American Outlaws. I did some digging and discovered it was illegal (!) for girls and women to play soccer in Brazil from 1941 to 1979, and all of a sudden this story about the "World's Game" became deeper than I ever could have imagined.
I became involved in filmmaking several years ago when I created a documentary about immigration, as part of a volunteer project. I had started off my professional life as an attorney, but fell in love with filmmaking right away and from that point forward, I have made a career out of documentary storytelling. I am particularly excited to work on this project. Not only is this an important story to tell within the context of soccer, but it speaks to the challenges women have faced, and in many cases are still facing, in nearly every professional context throughout history. There’s really a much broader message here about the heroic women who push through those obstacles, making history and paving the way for future generations. I think viewers, young and old, male and female, will be inspired by these stories.
Storytelling is such a compelling way to find new worlds and discover things that otherwise remain unknown. The Kicking the Gates stories have the potential to be powerful insights into the beautiful game of soccer. As a father of four, I want my children to learn from the lessons it has to offer. I want to the world to see what we have to offer through these amazing stories.
I love writing and directing—I've made it my passion and primary focus since I was very young. But more recently I've learned I love working with other storytellers even more. I've done several projects with Eric and Ben and these professionals keep me on my toes. Kicking the Gates is going to be unlike anything I've ever done before. It just has such a powerful purpose. I can't wait to bring these ideas to life and get the word out about this important piece of culture around the world.
I’ve played soccer for the last 16 years, starting when I was 6 from a newspaper ad. This sport has made me who I am today, because of the opportunities soccer has provided and the life lessons it has taught me. Having just graduated college, finishing my soccer career, I am itching to still be involved and make a mark in the world of women’s soccer and this project provides me with the chance to do that.
Rachel Grace, Marketing Director
I think it began when I was in Germany during the World Cup in 2006—the energy and passion of the fans was completely off the charts and something I will never forget. While working with Eric, I got more into women's soccer and started to question why that energy and passion—which is just as impressive—can't play a bigger, more fundamental role on the world stage. I'm working on Kicking the Gates because I really believe the time is now to ask these questions and help bring the conversation to light.