ROCKVILLE – If you followed the National Women’s Soccer League’s (NWSL) Washington Spirit anytime within the past four years, you would have probably recognized one of their players through her eponymous hairstyle, a personal take on a mohawk.
Or, how freshly retired midfielder and Silver Spring native Joanna Lohman refers to it, her “JoHawk.” It is her trademark hairstyle and part of her personal brand, a small but noticeable statement that set her apart as one of Washington’s most impactful players, on and off the field.
“Especially today with the current administration and social media, I really would like to be a significant influencer in positive change,” said Lohman.
Lohman retired from the Spirit after four seasons, and a 16-year professional career. Washington retired her No. 15 jersey on June 22, the first player to have their number retired in team history.
Her tenure with the Spirit saw her play 17 out of 20 matches in her first season, as well as lead the team to the playoff semifinals in 2016, where she played all 20 games. Lohman also scored four goals in last year to tie with three teammates as Washington’s second-best goal scorer: Estefania Banini held the top spot with five goals.
Lohman would then suffer a season-ending ACL tear in the first game of 2017, but came back for the 2018 season. She scored one goal and played in 13 games in her final season.
Before her time with the Spirit, Lohman’s career saw her in clubs around the United States as well as around the globe. Lohman had a stint in Spain’s women’s league, La Liga Feminina, for RCD Espanyol in 2011-2012; Sweden’s Balinge in 2008 and the Philadelphia Independence in 2010-2011 just to name a few. Lohman also had seven caps with the U.S. Women’s National Team.
This worldly experience is not lost on Lohman, who intends to carry on with the philanthropic work that she has been doing in conjunction with the U.S. Department of State as a sports envoy. She hopes to go to Nigeria next to share her experiences and foster social change through sport.
“These are places where the rights and resources and opportunities as a young girl are few and far between,” said Lohman.
It would be her fourth trip to the continent of Africa, and her fifth as part of the sports envoy program: she visited Botswana in 2016, Cote d’Ivoire in 2017 and Niger in 2018, as well as Thailand in 2015.
While her work has taken her around the world, Lohman is also developing opportunities around the district. Lohman was recently announced as an ambassador for DC SCORES, an after-school program in the district that aims to provide children with athletic, artistic and service-learning opportunities. She was announced alongside D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
“Joanna and Bill are inspiring local leaders, on and off the pitch, and great role models for our poet-athletes. To have these longtime advocates for DC SCORES as our official 25th anniversary year ambassadors will be both meaningful, and a lot of fun,” said Bethany Rubin Henderson, executive director of DC SCORES.
Lohman is also taking a new role with the Spirit, where she will focus on “community outreach based on soccer’s power to discover and define one’s self-worth and beauty,” according to team officials.
“Joanna is the ultimate professional on and off the field. She is a historical figure in Women’s Professional Soccer, and we are going to celebrate her contribution to the Spirit and women’s soccer later this season,” said Washington Spirit CEO Larry Best, before Lohman’s number retirement. “I’m delighted she has agreed to continue with the Spirit in a variety of duties. She remains an important part of our team and will continue to represent us in the community. Everyone with the Spirit congratulates Joanna on a remarkable playing career.”
Lohman’s retirement came before the United States won the FIFA Women’s World Cup, where the y won 2-1 against the Netherlands. She is leaving around a period of growth for the league and the sport: Budweiser was recently named the ‘official’ beer’ of the NWSL as their first beer sponsor, for example.
Lohman is cautiously optimistic about the benefits the World Cup victory will bring, but sees it as a gradual, but not exponential, step in the right direction.
“While I’m still hesitant to make too strong a projection for the league, I’m more hopeful this time around,” said Lohman. “… I know it’s going to be step-by-step in an incremental process.”