Brianna Pinto Recognized as 2016-17 ECNL S’Hero of the Year

Photo Credit: Chad Hardy

RICHMOND, VA (July 26, 2017) – The Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) today announced Brianna Pinto as the 2016-17 ECNL S’Hero of the Year award recipient. As part of Amazing Young WomenTM movement, the ECNL is sharing the stories of S’Heroes who are role models for our nation’s young female athletes who are balancing their drive to become elite athletes with the pressures of fitting in with social peers.

Pinto has been playing in the ECNL for the past four years with CASL (now NCFC Youth), based out of Raleigh, North Carolina. In January, Pinto became one of the youngest call-ups to the full U.S. Women’s National Team at the age of 16 after making her mark in the 2016 U17 Women’s World Cup for the United States and making an impressive showing at the U23 U.S. Women’s National Team Training Camp. She is committed to play collegiate soccer at the University of North Carolina, following high school graduation in 2018.

“I am very honored and humbled to accept the 2016-2017 ECNL S’Hero of the Year award. Playing soccer with CASL, various U.S. Youth National Teams and my experience with the Senior Women’s National Team has opened a world of possibilities to me. I have traveled across multiple continents, competed against the world’s best young players, learned valuable life lessons, and made lifelong friends along the way,” Pinto said about receiving the S’Hero of the Year award and the positive impact soccer has had on her life. “I know that as long as I continue to work hard, stay focused and remain persistent, I will have the opportunity to live the life I always imagined. I would like to extend my immense gratitude to my family and friends for encouraging me along the way and to the ECNL for honoring me with this prestigious award.”

Photo Credit: Chad Hardy

Pinto received an impressive 32% of the 2016-17 S’Hero of the Year votes, narrowly beating out fellow S’Heroes, Morgan Andrews and Shea Groom, who are both current National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) players and ECNL Alums.

Since we last spoke to Pinto, she has continued with her success on the pitch. She has been training with the NWSL’s Washington Spirit, who have several ECNL Alums on the roster including: Lindsay Agnew, Cameron Castleberry, Cali Farquharson, Mallory Pugh and Arielle Ship. She has also traveled around the world playing in Karlstad, Sweden, Birmingham, England and Rhine, Germany while representing her country. Pinto is currently in Seattle, WA at the U23 U.S. Women’s National Team camp, excited to have the chance to return to the location of her favorite ECNL National Event.

She will be graduating from high school in January of 2018 and plans to continue to train daily until she heads to UNC next summer to begin her collegiate career. We will continue to follow Pinto’s career as she moves on to make an impact in college in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Click here to view the 2016 ECNL College Impact in the ACC.

Photo Credit: Chad Hardy

To read more about Pinto’s story and why she defines what an ECNL S’Hero truly is, click here.

Briana, thank you for being an Amazing Young Woman and sharing your story. Your determination and hard work will continue to take you places. We look forward to seeing you tackle the next chapter, and are truly honored to call you an ECNL Alum and the 2016-17 ECNL S’Hero of the Year.


About Amazing Young WomenTM: The Amazing Young Women campaign is a dynamic platform of online and local market activations that showcase and celebrate female role models offering an aspirational focus for all female athletes and teens as they prepare to be our next generation of leaders. The ECNL is calling on all of the nation’s women to join the movement to celebrate the endless potential of today’s girls.

Women of all ages can share their personal moments of inspiration where they defined what it is to be #UNSHAKABLE through elevated stories and social media. Every share and submission helps drive a movement that celebrates the power of what it is to be a girl today.

S’Heroes are a part of the Amazing Young WomenTM campaign designed to showcase strong, successful women who embody the fact that drive on the soccer field translates into life lessons. The ECNL is calling on all who love sports to join them in supporting youth female athletes as they recognize their own potential, define their individual paths to success, and prepare to be our next generation of leaders using the hashtag #UNSHAKABLE.

Studies have shown that driving factors behind girls dropping out of sports include limited exposure to the inspirational journeys trail blazed by positive role models, and social stigma; where player traits that are so valued by teams are often not promoted for young girls. By age 14, girls are dropping out of sports at two times the rate of boys 1.  The Amazing Young Women campaign encourages young female athletes to embrace their competitive nature, and prove they cannot be shaken from the path to their dreams. Those recognized as S’Heroes have taken a spirit of leadership and inspiration from the field, and have demonstrated that it’s not just about a phase of your life, but a way of life.

About Elite Clubs National League:  The Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) was founded in 2009 to enhance the developmental experience of female youth soccer players in the United States through: (i) improving the competitive environment through creation of a true national competitive league; (ii) improving the process for identifying elite female soccer players through a systematic scouting and identification program based on national competitions; and (iii) improving the daily training environment at top female youth soccer clubs through developing best practices and training and organizational guidelines for its member clubs. The ECNL is sanctioned by US Club Soccer and is sponsored by Nike Soccer. | Facebook: /theECNL | Twitter: @theECNL

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Blaze Byrd

  1. Girls drop-out at different rates depending on where they live. Sabo, D. and Veliz, P. (2008). Go Out and Play: Youth Sports in America. East Meadow, NY: Women’s Sports Foundation.