CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Standing on the turf in the middle of Bank of America Stadium, Karyn Latorre said she didn't know her dreams would take her here, but she knew the hard work she put in since she was a child would lead to success.
What You Need To Know
Karyn Latorre is an assistant athletic trainer for the Charlotte FC, helping break the glass ceiling for women in MLS
Latorre is from Colombia, where she played soccer since she was a little girl
She played for Gardner-Webb University, where she obtained a degree in athletic training
"I still have dreams to fulfill, but being here on a professional team in an all-male environment pretty much shows that I was still able to do it," Latorre said.
Latorre is an assistant athletic trainer for Charlotte FC.
The players depend on her to keep them healthy and ready for games week after week. When an injury occurs, Latorre's focus is to rehab them back to health as fast as possible to win the next match.
"It's my job to get them better," Latorre said.
Born in Colombia, Latorre has been wearing jerseys and cleats since she was a young girl.
“It started with my dad. He was always into sports, but soccer is the sport that you play in Latin America. Probably when I was 5 he played with me with a little ball, my brothers also, at very young age," Latorre said.
Latorre played college ball for Gardner-Webb University, where she graduated with a degree in athletic training.
She says her hard work, knowledge in the sport and being bilingual in Spanish opened doors for her to get to the professional level.
"Being able to communicate with the players, a lot of them are from Spanish-speaking countries, it's very important for me to be able to talk to them through rehab, and also some players speak Portuguese, so I try my best to adapt to their language," Latorre said.
The players respect her and treat her as part of the team. They've given her the common Colombian nickname "Parcera," which means family or little sibling, a term of endearment and show of appreciation.
She says the U.S. has given her opportunities and opened doors which she found impossible to open in Colombia. The soccer environment there, she says, is still tough for women to break through. Sexism still very much alive and not welcoming to female athletes.
"Being a woman in MLS is not a roadblock. If you work hard and have skills, you can achieve your dreams," Latorre said.
She has a message to young girls watching from the stands.
"To keep trying, keep knocking on doors, to keep networking, they’re going to find walls, but you keep going," Latorre said.
“The Professional Soccer Athletic Trainers’ Society (PSATS) is in full support of female athletic trainers in professional soccer. Major League Soccer (MLS) has been at the forefront of diversity in the athletic training profession and was one of the earliest professional leagues to have female head athletic trainers dating back to 1996. This past season we had a total of 10 female athletic trainers, including two head athletic trainers. We are pleased to see not only the growing number of females in the league, but their roles of leadership at their Club level and at the Executive Committee level of PSATS as well. The total number of athletic trainers in Major League Soccer can vary, but there are three required per team. There were 28 teams in the 2022 season for a mandatory 84 athletic training positions,” said Sean Kupiec, the president of the Professional Soccer Athletic Trainers’ Society.