Soccer….Family Style


My Story Behind Growing Pains
March 12, 2015, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Oh…that awkward moment the internet tries to claim you’re a shameless self promoter and you realize you haven’t updated your blog since August. But that’s the thing. When I heard Noah Davis was working on a story about people who’d struggled with American Outlaws, I didn’t race to talk to him. Truth is, I discovered at MLS All Star game (my last post) that we are finally expecting our third child this April. This is not the time in my life that I need to create havoc for my family. But it’s been bothering me that I stopped writing about the game I love.

What’s not in the article is that when I announced my pregnancy to my friends via Facebook, someone took the time to create two Twitter accounts to harass me and announced my pregnancy on Twitter before I wanted it to be public. The account talked about my family in unfriendly ways, and at the game in Hartford last fall, and the breach of privacy left me feeling vulnerable. I got the account blocked, but the invasion of my privacy stuck with me and I didn’t want to write any more. It was only made worse when an Outlaw friend of mine private messaged me that the chapter leader (edit: I believe Drew is now ex president) of AO Knoxville was bragging that he’d been behind the harassing Twitter accounts. I sent AO national this information, but their response was that the account had already been suspended by Twitter (at my request). Here was yet another opportunity for AO to reiterate their own harassment policy and back it up with consequences, and they neglected to step up.

So I just stopped posting. I stopped promoting my book. I was exhausted from the pregnancy, so I told myself it was because I didn’t have time, but in my heart, it made me sick that a group I loved and helped grow for so many years had blackened my love of the game. My experiences at the hands of American Outlaws made me not want to talk about soccer…and that’s wrong. It was wrong of me to only talk about it via private message to national leadership. When Noah Davis contacted me and said the article was practically written, but requested a comment, I thought this was a way I could live with myself again. He assured me his message was not to tear AO down, but to talk about the issues that were weakening this growing organization in the hopes that the subsequent dialog would build a better soccer culture.

Flash forward to today. I read the first sentence and closed the window. The couple lines I envisioned in paragraph six was transformed into the reality that I was headlining the article. This is not what I needed at 35/40 weeks pregnant. It took several hours for me to work up the nerve to read it, bolstered by the quotes sent by friends reminding me why I spoke out in the first place….there were plenty of people who shared experiences off the record, but if people were going to harass me on the internet over a pregnancy announcement, I should at least put my voice to good use.

It’s not perfect. There are inaccuracies. But the overall message is on target. Love me or hate me… there’s no room for harassment in sports. Women, all women, should be comfortable being a part of AO. Davis spoke to me and I shared my real experiences. If that upsets you, I don’t know what to say. If your experiences are positive, I’m so happy for you. AO is so vastly different from coast to coast, and my great experiences have outweighed my bad experiences, but they don’t cancel the bad stuff out. How can we have #UniteandStrengthen as our battle cry and not want to do better at all chapters?

The one critical point I want to make is that my family is still AO active. What I said about leaving AO was regarding stepping down as a chapter leader. I didn’t feel like I could be a part of leadership when I didn’t feel like AO Nat’s had my back. I want a strong supporter culture for US Soccer, and there’s no arguing that AO has a place in that culture. We can do better, and I hope the discussion that follows this article is less about denial and more about what the best American Outlaws and the best US Soccer supporter culture looks like.

Advertisements



%d bloggers like this: