Angela Hucles Mangano ’96, a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and two-time World Cup Bronze Medalist for the U.S. Women’s National Team, returns to Hampton Roads this weekend as grand marshal for Hampton Roads PrideFest 2019.
Her return comes on the heels of another Virginia honor: In early June, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Ms. Hucles Mangano’s appointment to the University of Virginia Board of Governors. She played soccer at UVA (1996-99), where she was a four-year all-ACC player. She currently holds the record at UVA for most overall goals (59), game-winning goals (19), and total points (138). Not surprisingly, she also holds Norfolk Academy records for goals, assists, and points.
Ms. Hucles Mangano, who founded Empowerment Through Sport, an organization for collegiate and elite level female athletes, is a regular speaker on topics of sports leadership, equality, inclusion, anti-bullying, and the power of sport and its impact on personal growth and development. She is a sports analyst for her second FIFA Women’s World Cup with FOX Sports.
She arrived in Norfolk on Friday from the West Coast, where she works as a real estate professional in Los Angeles and resides with her wife, Meg and her son, Huntley.
Norfolk Academy has another alumni connection to the weekend events: Cole Werkheiser ’09 is president of Hampton Roads Pride, which organizes the annual festival, and he was responsible for getting Angela to come back home. We caught up with her by phone, moments after her plane landed:
Q: How does it feel to come back to your hometown as grand marshal of Hampton Roads PrideFest?
It’s just really exciting. It’s a full circle, homecoming feeling; I’m humbled and honored. Cole Werkheiser being president of Hampton Roads Pride, and his mother, Mary Werkheiser, being my PE coach at NA, and Cole’s boyfriend knows my father—so many connections! I could never have imagined being in this role.
Q: Can you share a bit about your continued advocacy for girls in sports, which led to the founding of Empowerment Through Sport? What is your most important work for girls so far?
That is core to what I believe and what I’m passionate about. It’s part of my life. I always see sports as a vehicle for education and living a healthy life, from building confidence to life skills. I continue to do speaking engagements and workshops, but what’s really meaningful is the individual coaching of some clients. I can see from one session to the next that these girls are developing technical ability in soccer, but it is something that they might not go on to do in college or beyond. To spend one-to-one time with them is super-meaningful to me; to see that direct impact is really special.
Q: Can you share a bit about growing up and realizing that you were gay?
Growing up, I didn’t have a whole lot of role models to identify with being gay or lesbian. I knew of people in my family, but no one I had a close connection with. I didn’t feel that it would be a huge issue in my family, but I had to be comfortable. It was challenging in terms of my own self-discovery. I did not come out to my family until I was in college. I grew into understanding what this difference meant. It is one of those things with the stigmas we associate with the LGBT family; it is part of becoming comfortable with who you are. It is who I am.
Have you been involved in LGBT activism in recent years?
I have been active in the You Can Play Project, founded by Patrick Burke...in memory of his brother. It’s something that I incorporate into various talks. I’m the triple threat—African-American, female, and part of the LGBT family. It’s a positive!
Do you see connections between your LGBT activism and some of the things you learned at Norfolk Academy?
The biggest thing is still feeling you are part of the NA family even after you have left it. You form even deeper relationships with teachers and coaches, even as an adult. I don’t think that many people are able to say that about their schools. It is huge to see how supported I am by my NA family and how comfortable I am with myself.
What is a message that you hope to send through your participation in Hampton Roads PrideFest?
I think whenever I can be an example for someone who might need to see that at this time, it’s what I want to do. That pushes me to be an advocate in the LGBT space. I was in a fairly conservative space growing up, and now I can be that role model that I didn’t have growing up. And my whole family will be out there! My wife is here and my son. Pridefest is a family event!
For more about Angela Hucles Mangano, read an interview with her Outwire 757 and get a rundown of the activities over the weekend at Living Local. Follow her on Twitter @Angelahucles.
A video interview with Cole Werkheiser '09, president of Hampton Roads Pride, on 13NewsNow about the week of events organized by Hampton Roads Pride.