In many ways, this is a new brand era for the NC Courage. The team itself will look almost entirely different from years past, with tons of fresh faces and the departure of several familiar ones.
On Tuesday, January 31st, the club showcased its commitment to keeping up with the National Women’s Soccer League’s growth through its jersey celebration event, New Era of Courage with Merz Aesthetics. With new franchises paying record-setting $50M franchise fees, further investment is necessary for legacy teams.
And all this was brought together by their partnership with cosmetic brand Merz Aesthetics. Merz is investing more than ever in the NC Courage.
The event was held in downtown Raleigh’s Junction West and kicked off with a red carpet, inviting all guests to enjoy their very own paparazzi. Upon entering the venue, you were greeted with cool lighting of blues and purples.
Internationally renowned local muralist Taylor White painted a live mural during the festivities that the Courage will use during the seasons to model their game day fits. You may know Taylor as the woman who also painted the 2019 Women’s International Champions Cup tournament photo near the entrance to Morgan Street Food Hall.
The bar served beers, wines, cocktails, and a Cup of Courage for all who dared.
The 2023 NC Courage kits were on display, including the new away jerseys, which featured a beautiful iridescent logo. In addition, the home (a repeat design from last season) and away kits prominently displayed the team’s new front sponsor, Merz Aesthetics.
All guests were invited to purchase the new kits with custom pressings on the spot. One of the most popular customized jerseys of the night appeared to be long-time favorite and Irish international Denise O’Sullivan.
Players from the Courage arrived and mingled with the guests. The excitement of the new era was palpable. Celebrated women’s sports journalist and NC State graduate Ari Chambers hosted the festivities.
Ari made sure to sing muralist Taylor praises before explaining her connection to the area. She grew up in northwest Raleigh but spent much time on Western Boulevard because of the location of her cheer gym. That gym was next to WakeMed Soccer park, home of the NC Courage.
Ari shared her excitement about the local investments in women’s sports. She thanked the crowd for showing up. “If you showed up tonight, that means you believe in the future of women’s sports. You believe in the present of the NC Courage. And you really believe in women occupying spaces we haven’t always had.”
Vice President of CORE Services, North America at Merz Aesthetics, Kimberly Lobell, also thanked the attendees. She reiterated the importance of Merz’s partnership, touting the team’s “fierce confidence, individuality, and sportsmanship.” Merz is excited for “another opportunity to showcase Courage and confidence through an expanded partnership.” Lobell shared Merz’s community investments with the local mini pitches for young women and girls alongside the Bucy Foundation.
President of North Carolina Football Club Francie Gottsegen spoke of the new investments, improvements, new front office staff, new technology, and new team. The goal is to drive more traffic to the stadium and get new fans to the game, ultimately providing a better experience and atmosphere for the fans and players.
Durham native, UNC graduate, and NC Courage midfielder Brianna Pinto once again welcomed everyone to “the new era of the NC Courage.” She thanked Merz for the most significant investment in the clubs’ history, which will help enhance stadium renovations, quality of meals, equipment access, and resources at the team’s disposal. Pinto cheered “new beginnings, growth on and off the field, and collective commitment to the community before us.”
Ari closed the speaking portion of the evening by asking the audience who their favorite Courage player was. She stressed the importance of investing your love into the game along with your money. “We want to keep the love going. We want to keep it building because that’s what really matters. And show you’re showing not just little girls but everyone that women belong in sports and can do it. And can do it sustainably for the rest of their lives.”
The players gathered for a group shot and ended the night by hijacking the mic to lead everyone in a happy birthday song for Courage stalwart Meredith Speck.