Soccer….Family Style

The Latest News from the Des Moines corner of the Soccer World
August 31, 2010, 1:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,
I have about a half dozen blog posts that I want to share with you all, but I’ve been alternating between being sick and catching up since I got back from South Africa. I want to tell you about how my three year old has learned to lead chants. I want to talk about the last game, and about the upcoming game in Chicago. But I haven’t been able to scrape together the time and energy to do it. But today, I had to take the time to update the blog. So I’m sitting here with my tea, and yet another round of antibiotics at midnight, writing about the day. But here’s the shocker….it has nothing to do with Bradley (that one will have to come tomorrow!)
This one is about the American Outlaws, and my journey with them. I started traveling to US Soccer games in 1993. Once I went to my first World Cup in 1994, I was hooked. But in Des Moines, Iowa, there wasn’t a whole lot of organization amongst soccer fans. When we got back from France in 1998, we tried to contact Sam’s Army about getting a brigade started in Iowa, but we barely got an answer, let alone support. Over the years, we tried to organize local watch parties with varying success.
Then, in 2007, my husband came home one night and said “You’ve got to check this out, there’s a group of guys starting a supporters group out of Lincoln, Nebraska.” I read the American Outlaws‘ website and was immediately in love. They sounded passionate, fun and engaged, and I was so excited that they were based here in the Midwest. I knew they’d get the challenges of organizing in mid sized cities. I sent them an email that same night, asking about whether there was an Iowa chapter.
And that’s where the adventure begins: because suddenly my email was the contact on the Outlaws website for the unofficial Iowa chapter. My husband and I had a great laugh that this website of hip college kids now had a mid-thirties mommy as their Iowa contact. We joked that I was now officially the biggest US Soccer fan in Iowa. We joked about our house being Iowa HQ, and our family would be all the members. We thought the whole thing was hilarious.
Then I started getting emails. Slowly at first, but then more frequently. Lucky for me, my friend Corey (aka SnakeEyes on Big Soccer) who has been active with the Des Moines Menace’s Red Army came onboard and helped me organize and run a Facebook page and listed our watch parties anywhere that would post for us. Once the Red Army guys were with us, it felt like our unofficial chapter had a life of it’s own. As the soccer community started to gear up for World Cup 2010, we stood about halfway to the required membership for Official Chapter status.
Well, today is the day that my husband and I have been waiting for, along with all the American Outlaws and soccer fans of Des Moines. Tonight we got the email that Des Moines is going to be the 38th official American Outlaws Chapter. After dreaming of an organized local supporters club for 17 years, this mom of 2, running a business, and a marriage and just trying to keep her head on straight, somehow went from a family inside joke, to the first chapter president of American Outlaws Des Moines.
Des Moines, once again, you make me proud. Red Army, I thank you and could not have done this without you guys. American Outlaws, I’m honored. Thanks for seeing a need in American soccer supporters and filling it in your own amazing way. Thanks for giving us the tools and motiviation to unite and strengthen our own little corner of the soccer world.
I encouage all of you out there wishing you had a local chapter. It’s as simple as telling Justin and Korey that you think _______ should have an American Outlaws chapter. You just might surprise yourself.

Breastfeeding with Beasley
August 5, 2010, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Many of you who know me through soccer don’t know that I own a baby/children’s store, Simply for Giggles, which has it’s own blog. It’s pretty rare that I get to write about a topic that’s appropriate for both of my blogs, but every once in a while, my worlds collide. And so it was one lazy Sunday on July 25th when I got a text from one of my soccer travel buddies that said “Get in Twitter right now and school Beasley on nursing in public.” It’s rare that my loves of natural parenting and soccer collide with such force, but USMNT player Damarcus Beasley has become the next soccer player featured in my blogs.

Let me preface by saying Beasley was at one point my husband’s favorite player. He has a Beasley jersey that has the letters almost worn off it. I’m more of a Clint Dempsey girl, myself, but Beasley gets (more than?) his fair share of hero worship at our house. So of course I couldn’t resist running to Twitter to see what was going on. At 2:33 he posted “WOW!! I’m at Benihana restaurant RIGHT now and the lady in front of me is Breast feeding her child at the table????? Is that normal ladies??”

Now that’s a reasonable question, to which I could have responded “Well, you’re eating there…seems normal to me” or some other lighthearted response. But he went on “I’m tryin to eat! I’m seriously lookin at this ladies boob while she feeding her son.. No blanket nothing.. Jus out in open! C’mon now!” And that’s where I have to get off the US Soccer bus and go off.

I’ve been a nursing mom for a total of 4-1/2 years, and I’ve only been called out once in the hundreds of public places I’ve breastfed my kids (including several soccer stadiums! Bonus points if you were at Gold Cup in 2003 and were part of the “Soccer Baby” chant…that was my daughter).  Now keep in mind, I own a children’s store, so it’s really not in my best interest to cause a scene, and I often use the Bebe Au Lait Hooter Hiders or Moby Wraps we sell to stealth feed, but I also know that the time I got called out in the middle of Granite City, you could literally see none of my body. But someone apparently became uncomfortable with the idea that he might see me, and asked the manager to speak to me. I remember it was mortifying until I had my husband take a photo of me so I could see that there was nothing offensive going on.

Now, I realize that there is a huge range of what possibly happened at the restaurant where Beasley was eating. Maybe this woman was intentionally stretching her exhibitionist wings and really was creating a scene, but I kind of doubt it. There are far easier ways to show yourself off than breastfeeding. And with the rates of American women who breastfeed far below desired numbers, it would be nice if sports stars and role models could do something to make Americans as comfortable around breastfeeding as they are watching the game at Hooters.

I know, it’s a stretch. But certainly we can aspire to the day when Beasley and other sports stars just leave a breastfeeding mama alone, even if they can’t tweet “Saw a mama breastfeeding at _________. So cool that she’s doing that for her baby.” We could gt US Soccer to do a promo that all women nursing at US Soccer  games (hey, I know I have and I know I’m not the only one!) get an autographed jersey. For now, I’ll be satisfied with the fact that DMB tweeted something directly to me. It may have said “Calm down” but all I saw was @tanyakeith, a big moment for me as a US Soccer supporter, regardless of content.

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