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The Pride are back in purple, and they have another story to tell

• New “Highway Woman Kit” honors pioneering artist Mary Ann Carroll
• Orlando returns to primary purple color after two years in mostly black
• Club creative team continues aim of weaving storytelling into kit and branding

Dr. Wanda Renee Mills hardly ever cries. Her mom, who she describes as tough as an ox, taught her that. Be strong, don’t cry, and know that you are blessed.

When Mills got the final cut of the video that the Orlando Pride released on Wednesday, however, she shed some tears as she watched images of her mother flash on the screen. Her mother was Mary Ann Carroll, a legendary Black artist who broke gender barriers in the 1950s when she traveled throughout Florida with a group called the Highwaymen.

“My joy is talking about my mother,” Mills told The Equalizer. “It is imperative to not let her legacy of promoting others, looking after others, reminding everyone — mostly girls, but everyone — you can be anything you want. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.”

Carroll’s mantra shapes the ethos of the Pride’s new primary uniform for 2023, the Highway Woman Kit. The shirt is relatively unassuming — subtle brush strokes in a lighter shade of purple from the jersey’s base — but it is what it represents that means something to Mills, the Pride and — they hope — the wider community.

“We try to have a strong narrative and inspiration in all of our kit designs, but particularly with the Pride, we’re looking for empowering women’s stories that geographically intersect with our community and the club,” said Mark Lowyns, the club’s creative director.

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