Soccer….Family Style

The Nashville Roadtrip, Day 2
March 29, 2011, 2:18 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I think I really should start a gratitude journal. My friend, Ben Milne posted to facebook, asking what was good about all our days. After two days on the road, I was getting a little tired an cranky, and I was letting a disappointing hotel room get me down. His question reminded me that despite having a stupid argument about booking hotels, my day was “past epic, all the way to sublime.”

First of all, at breakfast this morning, our 3-1/2 year old son read for the first time ever. Lately I’ve been feeling like I miss everything about my kids. They’re growing up so blindingly fast and I am deep in working-mama-guilt-world that I’m missing the whole thing. So having 20 hours of car time with my kiddos is blissful and exceeding expectation. And they’re so happy to have my undivided attention, we’re just basking around each other like a trio of happy goof balls.

But I digress….my son read! He looked at the menu at breakfast and read out loud, while pointing to the item “Eggs, I want eggs.” My husband asked him what else he could read on the menu and he said “Pancakes” and pointed again. Eureka! And the best part? I know how he learned it. His favorite book is the Max and Ruby one about making a birthday cake, where Ruby gives Max a shopping list and one of the items is EGGS!! I read it to him at least three times this week and you could just see his wheel turning as he looked at Ruby’s shopping lists. Take THAT, Mama Guilt!

We took the kids up in the St Louis Arch, and I (thanks to Twitter!) got advance ticket information on their website, including a discount on the Mississippi River cruise. Kids on a boat are fun, and better yet, we managed to keep blanket doggy and all sneakers on the boat with us! Winning! The kids thought the arch was amazing, and it was fun watching them discuss the engineering of the whole thing with their Mech E Dad.

Then, just outside Nashville tonight, our darling daughter slammed her finger so hard in the door that we had to do the parental pantomime/eye contact discussion of “Is it broken? It may be. I think so too. What should we do?” You can’t say that stuff out loud around our high strung, very anxious little girl, but that’s why this is actually a highlight. Communication worked, we got the finger triaged and determined that waiting the hour until Nashville was better than searching for some regional hospital. And by the time we hit city limits, the icing and taping had worked, swelling was going down, and her chatter had turned to figuring out how to clap one handed at the game and how much her Angry Birds scores would suffer.

We arrived in Nashville at almost 10, but I had promised the nearly passed out kids they could stop by the American Outlaws bar for a Sprite before bed and say hello to everyone (well, we were supposed to get in around 9). We got them sodas and the other American Outlaws started chatting with the kids.

Of course I’m partial, but I really do LOVE watching my kids in a group of adults. For the most part, even exhausted, they amaze me. They chatted, let me brag on how many caps they each have, and my beautiful girl led a song from on top of a barstool. I realize this is not what most parents hope their children aspire to, but for me….in a word….sublime.

And the soccer starts later today!!

The Nashville Road Trip, Day 1
March 28, 2011, 12:20 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Ahh….soccer road trips!! I remember when jumping in a car and driving 10 hours to Canton OH for Warrior Classic was no big deal. We’d do 5 hours to Chicago or 3 to Kansas City out and back same day because we were too cheap to get a hotel room. But then we had a couple kids, and the road trips tapered off. We still do Chicago and Kansas City, but now we spring for the room overnight.

So when Nashville was announced, I was torn. We have a family pact to go to every game within driving distance without work conflict. I’ve driven to Tennessee before and it was NOT PRETTY. The girl I was traveling with and I got into a huge fight, and what started out really fun ended up being an unbearable ride home and the end of our friendship. But 10 hours….it’s really just outside “reasonable distance.” And the game is on a Tuesday, which in my retail world is a GREAT time to go to a soccer game. Tempting…..

So I talked to the husband. The original plan was to fly into the NJ game, drive to Tennessee, fly back to Des Moines. Two problems: 1) Holy expensive Batman! 2) NJ game was on Saturday, the unfriendliest retail day to travel. Plan A: Scrapped.

Plan B: What if we just drove to Nashville and back? 10 hours each way? With 2 kids? Hmmmm…..  Well, St Louis is on the way. We could spend a day there on the way out to break up the drive. That could work.

We put Plan B in motion. Now, I should know by now that people are not good with people who live big lives. I started to talk about the trip and got several incredulous “You’re driving 10 hours? To soccer?” (I mean REALLY? Is this shocking? I flew 24 hours to South Africa. I flew 14 hours to Korea and then I was 5 months pregnant. 10 hours in a car kinda pales by comparison, don’t you think?)

So I stopped telling people about the trip (including my parents apparently…. oops, sorry, Mom). And I started just getting the kids ready. Talking to them about the trip. Letting them get crazy costumes for the game (wait until you see them!) And I’ve been getting pretty psyched up for this trip, especially after the 1 – 1 tie vs Argentina yesterday.

So now, I’m sitting in a St Louis hotel room, listening to my family snoring, thinking this trip was a genius idea. We did 6 hours of driving, no music, no videos. Think about that. Six hours. Just talking with my family. When do I ever get 6 hours to just listen to the kids chatter about the world and play old school low tech highway games. (Hey Mom! How about when we see a farm animal, we call out what animal we see!?)

So Day 1, we’re more than halfway there, and I’m already glad I came. See you in Nashville, soccer fans!


Watch Soccer, Get Free Beer Event on 3/26
March 19, 2011, 12:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

From our friends at the American Outlaws, Des Moines:

American Outlaws wants to buy you a beer at the US vs Argentina Watch Party Sat March 26th

American Outlaws Des Moines, the local chapter of the national supporters group for US Soccer, has partnered with the Free Beer Movement and Victor’s Sports Club to introduce soccer to people who have never watched soccer with a supporters group. “It’s much more fun to watch soccer at a bar with other knowledgeable fans” said AO DSM Chapter President Tanya Keith. “The Free Beer Movement is a grassroots effort of American soccer fans to share their passion for soccer with the not-yet-converted in exchange for a beer (or two). It’s a time honored sports tradition to create new and future fans of soccer through the power of free beer.”

“Anyone who watched the 2010 World Cup at Victor’s Sports Club knows there is no better place in Des Moines to get caught up in the excitement of soccer.” said Corey Dickey, Membership Chair for AO DSM. “We thought the US vs Argentina game was a great chance for people to get familiar with soccer and our local bar, at the beginning of the Major League Soccer and before the Gold Cup in June. Come on out, let us buy you a beer, show you how much fun soccer can be with a good group of supporters.”

Event details:    US Soccer (USMNT) vs Argentina

Victor’s Sports Club

7500 Douglas Ave.

Urbandale, IA 50322


Saturday, March 26th, 2011 Kickoff at 6:00 PM


For more information, contact Tanya Keith 515-778-9411 or or find more information at


Are you a Woman? Do you support US Soccer? We Want to Talk to YOU!
March 14, 2011, 5:57 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Myself and two of my soccer travel buddies, Prairie Clayton and Kaela Porter, are three passionate ”ultra” fans of US Soccer. Over our years traveling together, we have talked about the experience of being a female soccer fan, and while preparing for and traveling to the 2010 World Cup, we decided to develop a project to tell the stories of the women traveling to games alongside us. The only qualification for inclusion in the project is that you’re a girl or woman who supports US Soccer as a fan. We appreciate your support of our project, and we look forward to telling your stories. Please forward this to any female supporter of US Soccer.

You do not have to answer all the questions, but please be as thorough as possible. If you have received a paper copy of this questionnaire, please feel free to use additional pages.


The best way to deliver your answers is by emailing TanyaHKeith (at) Gmail(dot)com, but you may also snail mail your answers to Tanya Keith, 4556 50th Street, Des Moines IA 50310.


By answering this questionnaire, you are giving permission for us to publish your story and/or image (we will use only first names and will use fake name if you prefer). We reserve the right to edit stories submitted. Thank you for sharing your stories.

Please write or type your initials here to acknowledge your permission to publish your story in whole or part: ________




Phone (Home/Cell):

1. Which US Soccer Teams do you follow (Men, Women, Youth, etc)?

2. Are you more passionate about one US team over another?

3. When did you first become interested in US Soccer?

4. When did you become a diehard fan?

5. What is your life outside of soccer like? (i.e. what do you do for a living, what are your other interests, do you have a spouse/partner/children? )

6. Do you play soccer or another sport? If so for what team(s)?  What position do you play?

7. Do you support a club team or teams?

8. Do you follow any teams overseas?

9. Where’s your favorite non-stadium spot to watch a US game (bar, pub, etc.)?

10. How far have you traveled to see the US play?

11. How many caps do you have (how many US games have you been to)?

12. What World Cups and/or tournaments have you traveled to?

13. Tell us about your game day routine.  What do you wear to games? How do you prepare?

14. How does being a female fan affect your experience of the game and other fans? Do you think it makes a difference that you’re a female supporter, and if so, how?

15. How do you respond to the perception that women don’t really follow sports, they’re just there because the players are hot?

16. What’s the best game(s) you ever saw and why is it your favorite?

17. What’s the best adventure(s) you’ve ever had because of US Soccer?

18. How has being a US Soccer fan impacted your everyday life?

19. If you have a significant other, how do they feel about your passion for soccer?

20. If you have children, how old are they and how do they feel about your passion for soccer? Did they grow up going to US Soccer games and or events? Have they attended games with you?

21. What else would you like to tell us about your experiences with US Soccer?

Thank you again for taking the time to complete this survey. If your story is selected for publication, we will need 1-5 high quality photos of you at US Soccer events (where you watch games, dressed up for the stadium, tailgating, etc) that you would be willing and  able to release for publication. We will also accept studio photos of how you dress for games.

We are looking for stories from many different female fans. If you know of other women who follow US Soccer, please forward this questionnaire to them, or even better, forward their contact information to TanyaHKeith (at) gmail(dot)com and she will contact them. Updated information about this project may be available at our Women of US Soccer page on Facebook or on Tanya’s blog

MLS Matchday 2011 Android, IOS App Released!
March 10, 2011, 10:00 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I woke up this morning to a Chicago Fire message on my FB wall that the MLS iPhone app was released this morning. As a Droid user, I was initially grumbling, until I read down to the bottom of the message and it said Android was coming in 24-48 hours, which, as late as I slept, it was already in the Market!!

My favorite thing so far: you select your club, and it fires up an audio recording of supporters chanting! LOVE IT!! Way to recognize the supporters MLS App! It’s tough for me, out here in MLS wasteland because now this app is forcing me to choose, is my phone for Sporting KC, Fire, or perhaps my favorite supporters, but least convenient, Portland Timbers? Only my Droid knows for sure!! (You can switch teams pretty easily, and the list is alphabetical, so if you’re for Vancouver, flip in reverse order!)

According to the Fire’s release, you can expect:

  • Live game streaming (via MatchDay Live available through in-app purchase)
  • Realtime highlights
  • Redesigned Matchcenter and improved statistical display
  • Matchday and newspaper modes (iPad)
  • Customized homescreen allowing users to follow their favorite Club
  • AirPlay allows users to send all MLS video to their television through Apple TV
  • Facebook chats
  • Customizable alert system
  • Go check it out. It is fast becoming my favorite app, and it’s not even in season yet!

    The Parenting Take Away From AORally
    March 7, 2011, 4:11 pm
    Filed under: Family Fun, Supporter Culture, Uncategorized

    My reasons for going to the AO Rally had nothing to do with parenting. I love taking my kids to games, but the Rally was something I wanted to do for me. I remember June 5, 2002, being in the stadium for the moment (or 90 some moments) that the US beat Portugal after coming off our last place finish in the 1998 World Cup. Doug and I were up late talking in our room that night about how cool it was to be there in such a pivotal moment for US Soccer. When I heard about what American Outlaws were planning for this Rally, I thought that the event had the possibility to be another epic moment in US Soccer history, and I figured it was time for me to get serious about AO DSM chapter leadership, and on both counts, it did not disappoint.

    But even though my intentions were self/chapter serving, we did have two very interesting discussions at lunch with the Soccer Family Style Family (ages 8 and 3-1/2). The first was about facebook photos. I was flipping through the photos on my phone and commented that a few of them were not facebook worthy as they contained some things that should stay in Vegas. When people question how close I keep my kids to the supporters section, I have to think, isn’t it better for your kids to learn lessons on what not to curse, post to facebook, etc from OTHER people? I think so.

    Then we talked about Grant Wahl’s Campaign for FIFA President. We talked about political corruption, and the things that FIFA has done to lose some of our respect. We talked about the need to stand up to injustice, and how even if he doesn’t win (he admits it’s a long shot), it’s important to push the discussion forward to the best of each person’s ability. OK, I admit, it’s over the 3 year old’s head, but you could see my daughter’s wheels turning. She gets it, and that’s a cool thing to see as a parent.

    And did I mention that I got to meet Mama Donahoo? That’s right, Mom of two of the American Outlaws founders Korey and Chris Donahoo. She didn’t believe me when I told her she was my hero, but really? When you’re trying to raise good soccer supporters in the US….who would you rather meet? It was epic for me, Mama Donahoo.

    We’re working on our statement on Grant’s candidacy…you’ll have to stay tuned for that one. Until then, remember….American Outlaws….not just for kids. It’s for parents too.

    Soccer Family Style at American Outlaws Rally
    March 6, 2011, 6:54 pm
    Filed under: International Soccer, Supporter Culture, US Soccer

    I’m on my way home from the first American Outlaws Rally, and want to share my experience of the AORally, but honestly, I’m overwhelmed. I’m still processing how great this experience was for me.

    As a long time US Soccer junkie, and I’m a big fan ot what American Outlaws have accomplished is such a short time.I felt I had to be a part of this rally to see what they have planned for the future and to bring my experience to help build the organization.

    I got so much more out of this rally than I expected. I got a ride to and from LA from my AO brothers in the LA chapter. I’m riding with a great group of guys, and I am getting and extra 10 hours of talking AO (and a side trip to the Hoover Dam!)

    I learned about Little Feet’s new programs, Free Beer Movement, and more. I got to talk to Alexi Lalas, who delivered a love letter to the fans that was about his perpective of the growing soccer culture in the US for all the years I’ve been a supporter. I saw previews of One Goal’s video, and got to talk to Grant Wahl about his work and FIFA President campaign.

    But most of all, I feel this trip rekindled my passion for growing the fan culture in this country, in particular through the American Outlaws. It was so exciting, as an entrepreneur, to recognize the huge opportunity that sits in front of AO right now. The fan swell that my family have tried to develop since 1993 is finally happening, and it is quite incredible to be a part of it.

    And I’ll tell you more about that, but after I’ve slept a few hours. Until then, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, American Outlaws. We love you, we love you, we love you….

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