Soccer….Family Style


May 28th…for decades

One day, back in 1993, I decided to make May 28th a big day in my life. I booked my wedding for May 28, 1995 and forever made this day a bigger deal than most other days of the year. I chose it because my betrothed and I were living in Iowa and marrying in New Jersey, and it allowed our friends from around the U.S. to join us for the wedding without taking any days off.

So on May 28th, 1995, I married Doug, or Mr. Tanya, as he’s known in the Twittersphere. He deserves a ton of respect, because it’s not easy being married to an outspoken woman, he he takes it all in stride (including his tongue-in-cheek internet nickname). I wasn’t a huge fan of marriage, and he’s spent the past two decades proving to me that marriage is (or can be) way cooler than many people make it out to be. We make a good team, Mr. Tanya. Thanks for rocking my world over and over.

19 years ago today I married Mr. Tanya and began our (mostly) happily ever after.

18 years ago today we bought our first house together (the first anniversary is paper, and we figured a mortgage is about the most expensive piece of paper we could buy together.

10 years ago today Doug inadvertently inspired my love for Portland Timbers.

3 years ago today we moved into the Hatton House.

1 year ago today we went to KC to watch Des Moines Menace in the Open Cup vs Sporting.

Tonight, we’re joining our friends at Menace vs Minnesota United in the Open Cup. I’m confident that my Kickstarter for Passionate Soccer Love will fund in the next 48 hours, but I hope you’ll understand why I’m doing an extra push to finish it out today. Because May 28th, it’s kinda a big deal. Thanks to everyone who has supported me on this journey. I am deeply grateful.

Here’s that link, one more time: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1081588443/passionate-soccer-love-publishing-and-book-tour

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Calling All American Outlaws! Please Help Spread the “Passionate Soccer Love” Word!

Fellow American Outlaws,

I am releasing a book about supporter culture in the U.S. at the night before the June 1 Send Off match, and I’m asking for your help getting the word out about it. In return, I have a new tool to help grow your chapter. I wrote “Passionate Soccer Love” as a memoir of my love of US Soccer and the happiness I’ve found experiencing the explosion of growth in American supporter culture. I expected it to be well loved among soccer supporters (and it has been among my chapter members who got to read the preview). What I didn’t expect is the reaction among people with no connection to soccer. You don’t need to take my word for it. I’ve posted the feedback I’ve gotten so far on the book here.

Over the past three years, I’ve read chapters of my book in different writers groups and I worked with two editors who have no connection to soccer. Almost all of my non-soccer readers have started following soccer. My 70+ year old editor with no previous interest in soccer was discussing an article he’d read about Klinsmann’s 30 man roster. He said “I don’t even fully understand the words I’m saying, but I’m REALLY interested in this World Cup.” While I wrote the book to be readable to people who don’t know soccer, I didn’t expect it to have such a powerful effect on people.

Help me share my book and I’ll help your chapter spread the love of soccer. I need Kickstarter backers (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1081588443/passionate-soccer-love-publishing-and-book-tour), you’ll need events after the World Cup to sustain the buzz created by the Cup. I have a couple ideas on how to make that happen:

Option 1: Have your chapter back one of the options to have me do an in-person or virtual book signing. I’ve lowered the prices on those events thanks to some private backing in an effort to make these events more reasonable.

Option 2: Share the Kickstarter with your chapter members and ask them to back the project with your chapter # tagged in the price. For instance, someone in my chapter (Des Moines #38) wanted to back at the $30 level, they would back for $30.38. I’ll do a virtual book signing for every chapter with at least 5 paper books copies backed. If you’d rather me come in person, we can work out an event for expenses only.

Option 3: You don’t need another event on your calendar, but you’re willing to share just for the good karma. Also very much appreciated.

Option 4: Reply with your better idea. I’m open to what you think works best for your chapter.

When the Kickstarter funds, I’ll do a drawing for a free signed copy among all chapters who participated as an extra thank you for your help getting the word out. I know the EASports event was great for our chapter for bringing in a whole new group of people, and I hope my book will allow having an event you can post at your local library or bookshop will do the same. If you need help writing the post or a tweet about the book, or if you have other questions, you can reach me at YourSocksHaveHoles at gmail.com.

 

Unite and Strengthen,

Tanya Keith

P.S. If you have a soccer team or other organization and you’d like to tailor an event like this for your group, please email me and we’ll get it set up!

P.P.S. Here’s a couple sample chapters for you to get you fired up

Sample Chapter 1

Sample Chapter 11



FC København – Brøndby 2014 – TIFO is just brilliant
May 5, 2014, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

I love complicated tifo. Complicated tifo of blowing things up….it’ll make your Monday.



The Soccer Shrine
December 9, 2013, 7:01 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, Supporter Culture, US Soccer | Tags: ,

soccer roomI have wanted a soccer shrine forever. Our previous house didn’t have space for one, and our current house always had a higher priority projects going on. It’s a 125 year old Victorian, and there are at least a decade’s worth of projects to be done. But we finally got enough cleaned our of our master bedroom alcove to get our shrine started. You can read about the project, see more photos, and learn about the rest of the house over at my Historic Hatton House blog, but meanwhile, here’s a teaser photo for you. Feel free to post links to your soccer shrines in the comments.



I Remember in Gratitude

I woke up around 9:30 this morning with the sound of supporters chants echoing in my head and thought about where I was twelve years ago that moment compared to where I am today. I was filled with gratitude for the lessons I learned that day. There’s no way I would be waking up in Columbus with my two beautiful kids, basking in the afterglow of an epic night of soccer, had I not woken up on 9/11/01.

Pulling into work on 9/11, where I was supposed to spend the day selling and designing office furniture systems (that’s cubicles, to you civilians). Instead, I spent a few hours in shock in our conference room in Des Moines, watching the news, praying my family and friends back home in New York, New Jersey, and DC were OK. Slowly, details rolled in…my father wasn’t on an ill fated early flight from Logan. Friends emailed. My cousin got out of the Pentagon safely.

I gave up working around 10 AM, with the thought that not one single person cared about the miles of panel systems destroyed that day. My work was meaningless. There was no point to it ever, certainly not that day. I drove through downtown Des Moines, cowering under our tall buildings that I can’t call skyscrapers, but that fact didn’t stop them from piercing the bright blue sky so it bled out sunshine on Iowans who seemed oblivious to our world crashing down around us. I wanted to scream at them, shake them from their zombie state of Midwestern security. Instead, I went home and sobbed until my husband came home to sit with me at the Blood Bank. We waited there for hours, mainly because it was a refugee camp for Easterners in Des Moines diaspora. I couldn’t be alone, but had to be somewhere I could still take the phone call from my mom, phoning me at 7 PM Eastern to tell me she was still at the school in Montclair, NJ, where she was a teacher. She’d been with the elementary school kids waiting for their parents who couldn’t call, and may never get there, who were walking home from the City because that was the only way to get out that day. The last child had been picked up at 7 PM, and my mother could finally release all the emotion she couldn’t show to her students. Her grief poured out in a raging flood that tore through any composure I had, but my fellow refugees just nodded in understanding, put a hand on my shoulder, shared their stories from home with me.

My new world started to crystallize there, seeing that there was a community for me in Des Moines, and that that community would get you through the worst moments of your life. We finally went home and sat in front of horrifying news of the day, I felt a clarity settle over me. My life needed to change, radically and swiftly. This would be my personal judgement day, and what I brought to the world was found wanting by my own accounting. That just wouldn’t be acceptable for one more day.

I turned to my husband and said “I think we should have kids.” He swiveled his head away from the carnage on the screen, and with amazing restraint at the shock of my seven year established position of kid-free happiness making an abrupt about face, he said “Okay….” not at all revealing that he, in all likelyhood, had a mental institution ready on speed dial.

I explained that while we didn’t know details, it was pretty obvious that there were some pretty awful people in the world. We wouldn’t be able to impact getting rid of those people, but certainly, we were capable of raising a few kids who may not cure cancer, but would tip the good guy/bad guy ratio in our favor. He agreed, suggested we see if I still felt that way in a couple weeks, and low and behold, 13 months later, our beloved Wonder Woman (the supporter formerly known as Betsy Ross) was born.

During those 13 months, I resigned my position and started doing community work, first with the Des Moines Marathon, then with the Stadium Foundation, then with my own company. And I decided my life would be focused on things I cared about: family, work that was meaningful, and soccer. I met someone this weekend who, when I introduced myself, said in shock, “You’re Tanya Keith? I’ve heard of you.” This is a phase I hear more often, although it is still strange to me, particularly when delivered with a tone that adds layers of ambiguity in exactly what reputation precedes me. He clarified, “I heard you’re a force of nature.” How’s that for my next business card? “Tanya Keith, Force of Nature.”

This soccer trip with my family, with all of you, who told me so many great stories, seeing that beautiful game, that ended in another dos a cero moment for us to share, it all happened for me because of the person I became twelve years ago. Maybe it takes an unspeakable tragedy to get clarity about your life, but I hope not. I try every 9/11 to evaluate (convenient that it comes in the season of atonement for my JewCrew buddies and I) if my life is authentic and meaningful. I try every year to not get lost in the sadness of what we lost, but in gratitude for the lessons I learned and the place I was delivered to by those lessons.

Last night, the energy and love for US Soccer that poured out of Columbus was even more healing for me than the game they hosted last year. I love being in any supporter section, but last night in Columbus was something special. In the mist of goal celebrations’ beer, smoke, and sheer unadulterated joy, the Nordecke elevated me to something I can only describe in Charles Boehm’s new word: it was #DosaCeroazo.

I am filled with gratitude, US Soccer loving nation. I hope you are all out there, being a force of nature in something you love, with people you love.



Praise and Parenting: a Soccer Mama’s Take on Seattle’s 21st Century Debut

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What a night, huh? The show that Seattle put on Tuesday night was mind-blowingly awesome on so many levels…the pre-party, the march to the match, the songs in the supporters section, and that beautiful, glorious tifo. Seattle deserves a lot of credit for creating one of the best game experiences of my 20 years of following US Soccer. But as I was reading stories about the match from Business Insider, the blogosphere, but in particular, Jerry Brewer’s column in the Seattle Times, I felt like we need a little parenting perspective on this game, and I’m just the soccer mama to do it.

                Seattle, what you did was amazing, but to say this was all Seattle culture, or just a normal night, makes us here in the rest of the US Soccer world a little uncomfortable. Last night wasn’t about Seattle soccer. It was about Seattle hosting US Soccer. Of the 41,000 tickets sold for this match, 15,000 of us came from out of state, a full 37% of the people, according to US Soccer’s presentation at their Official Supporters pep rally. The people that are willing to travel like that to games, to not only pay $50 without complaint, but spring for a $300+ flight and take vacation time….we don’t sit in the upper bowl. That impressive performance in the supporters section came from a diverse group of supporters. Within my arm’s reach were supporters from England (who was noticeably stunned by how far American soccer has come, saying “I didn’t think I’d see anything like this for another five years), Des Moines (Iowa, not Washington), Denver, Portland, and yes, Emerald City Supporters. I had friends in the crowd from DC, Detroit, Kansas City, and more, 49 states represented in attendance, according to US Soccer. We bring the diversity of supporter clubs from all over the USA, and there’s an opportunity to learn from us. I would be so disappointed if I heard my child present their group project at school, but try to make it sound like the project was a success because they were so awesome at making projects, that everyone else’s projects pale by comparison, even as the other members of the group that had done work were standing there. Seattle was amazing last night, in large part due to the tireless hundreds of hours put in by American Outlaws, Seattle chapter, but also thanks to members from chapters around the US, who shouted ideas to Seattle capos and helped keep fresh chants flowing.

                If Seattle does get another game, and I hope they do, I hope they’re a little more open to asking for help. Yes, you do Sounders supporting, week in and week out, and you do it with skill that puts you among the best atmospheres in the US. But there are those of us that do US Soccer, year in and year out, and we love supporting our team as much as you love supporting yours. Just ask nicely, and we’ll help you hang banners and distribute song cards. I really enjoyed last night, working with capos with microphones, and I loved learning new songs that are unique to the Pacific Northwest. You know what would have been awesome? Allowing us out of town capos to teach you some of our songs from around the United States. Because I got “Everywhere we go” started (mic free!) in my section, but if the capo with the mic doesn’t know that that song ends with “clap clap clapclapclap clapclapclapclap USAaaay!” then we all sound silly as it grinds to a halt, as we are all clapping, but the mic guy is launching into the 2nd round of singing. It’s OK for you to learn from us, as we learn from you, it will only make you stronger.

                I have two kids. Would any of you ever seriously ask me which one is my favorite? Of course not. I’ve watched US Soccer in eight countries and 12 states, and I’m not going to pick a favorite, nor should you ask me. I’ll tell you that I love the Member’s Bar and stand at Sporting KC, and I cried last September in Columbus the first time I heard a US Soccer crowd chant throughout the stadium and stand for an entire match, I loved Denver and Tampa, where the crowds faced some of the worst weather I’ve ever dealt with in a match with a wonderful sense of humor and adventure. And I love, that for my 40th match supporting US Soccer, I got to be with you, Seattle, under the most impressive tifo I’ve ever seen. But I wouldn’t say it was my favorite, because I love all those experiences for different reasons. I don’t have to love you “the best,” and by now, you should be confident enough that you don’t need that to feel good about yourself. You are a great soccer city, but you won’t become a greater soccer city until you open your doors and let us share our passion with you. Because the USA chant that everyone is writing about at the end of the match was cool…but what’s cooler? A loud, slow, haunting rendition of “You’ll neeeever beeeat the US (clap!) “You’ll neeeever beeeat the US (clap!) Just throw me the megaphone in the 88th minute next time…I’ll start it up for you.

                I was really proud, even pleasantly surprised, that for the most part, you let your club thing go for a night. I saw very few green shirts in that sea of red, white and blue, and the one capo who dared show up eternal green and forever blue getup (or is it the other way around?) was a good sport about switching to red. You not only did some Portland cheers, you gave them credit where credit was due, probably one of the coolest supporter club moves I’ve seen. It gives me hope that now that you’ve proved yourselves worthy, next time you’ll expand your scope and look at what US Supporters are doing around the US, and welcome our ideas with open arms. Hopefully next time, I won’t hear quite so much about how it’s not worth $50 to see a World Cup Qualifier, and more about how it sold out weeks ahead of the match. I hope next time, it’s like last night, only bigger and better…..although seriously, I don’t know how you’d ever out-do yourselves on that tifo. (Watch the tifo at this link.)


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The crowd in Seattle knows how to pitch in and help fold the Midwest Mama. Thanks to everyone who helped!



USMNT vs Germany: My “This is Your Life” Game
June 9, 2013, 1:42 pm
Filed under: International Soccer, US Soccer | Tags: , ,

wpid-2013-06-02_15-42-07_376.jpgI knew that USMNT vs Germany would be uber-emotional for me, just based on it being my 20th anniversary as a supporter, and a rematch of my first cap, but as my plans for the weekend started to fall into place, it became almost comical. First, my college roommate from Carnegie Mellon offered me a place to stay and said she’d come to the game with me. Then, I posted to Facebook that I’d be in town, and did any of my DC area friends want to join me at the game? Matt Erickson, owner of 76 Words, and the guy that took me to his prom, asked me to grab him three tickets. So now I’m going to the most meaningful game of my life, with my former college roommate and prom date. I could picture myself at the field, with Alexi Lalas narrating, “Tanya Keith, this is your life!!”

It turns out, that in the very small world of DC business, Scott, my South Africa husband (or rather the guy that our safari staff thought was my husband, urging me to keep him from getting killed by telling him not to go running in the safari park), and ’89 prom date not only know each other, but live less than 2 blocks from each other. While this was very convenient, since Kaela was staying with Scott, it was the first of many strange coincidences of the weekend.

Matt and I headed to the stadium just after 8 AM to hang banners and set up the stadium flag, which took longer than usual, but still got us out to the tailgate shortly before the rest of the crew. Our group set up by the river, which was so pretty, and seemed about 10 degrees cooler than the rest of the parking lot. Somehow, magically, we did not lose any soccer balls in our kick around that was dangerously close to the river bank. As people started showing up, it became clear that there were more than a dozen one degree of separation relationships between Matt and I. In the Venn diagram of soccer fans and DC insiders, there’s heavy, if not total, overlap. In fact, Matt had offered one of his two extra tickets to a guy from our hometown who graduated a few years ahead of us. His friend had declined the tickets, since he already had tickets, but invited Matt to his tailgate….which turned out to be the same tailgate I’d invited him to attend.

We ate, drank, face-painted, and talked, occasionally kicking a ball around. We did one pass through the lot to go visit our friends from New York, and to see my friends from AO RVA. But soon it was time to go into the stadium. When the supporter’s section is GA (general admission), I like to go in 90 minutes before kickoff, but with assigned seats, I had no issue with rolling in barely in time for anthems. It was fun, having the Midwest Mama flag farther back in the section than usual, since people were excited to be a part of the flag management. One guy had on an Ampel Man shirt, winning the subtle reference to German culture. Ampel Man is a graphic design icon from East Berlin, a red walking man that adorned traffic lights, telling you when to walk or stop, don’t cross. How many layers of happiness could I squeeze into one day?

The game kicked off, and the joy of the day was just getting started. In the 14th minute, Jozy Altidore scored on a fantastic shot from in the box. Gleeful giddiness poured out of me. I couldn’t remember ever leading Germany in a match, but before I could collect myself and take a photo of the score board, right in front of me, I saw something I could not believe. A German central defender had the ball at the 18, but was  under pressure, and passed the ball to his wing, who was also under pressure, and made a quick back pass to the German keeper, ter Stegen. Please read this as it is in my head, in the voice on Top Gun, when Maverick gets scolded to “never, never leave your wing man,” YOU NEVER, NEVER BACK PASS ON FRAME! Ter Stegen was immediately under intense pressure from three US attackers, and in a startled moment of indecision, he hesitates, and the ball rolls, impossibly slowly, into the German net. Now we were up 2-0, dos a cero!! It’s not just for Mexico anymore!

After a German goal was called back for being offside, we headed into halftime, up by the most dangerous lead in soccer. I hoped we wouldn’t get over confident and blow the lead, which is risky in how comfortable it seems, but isn’t. When Germany came out and scored once, I thought we were in trouble, but a pair of clinical, beautiful rifle shots from Clint Dempsey put the score at 4-1. What strange new world is this?

But we weren’t done yet. Germany made a late game sub, and with brutal quickness, the score was 4-3, and I was praying that we could hold it through the last seven minutes. It had already occurred to me that this game was almost a perfect flip of the scoring summary from US vs Germany twenty years prior, and now, I wanted my day to come complete full circle. As the players moved from one end of the field and back, I prayed alternately that neither would score, and leave my perfect 4-3 as is. I’d found myself begging the US NOT to score for the first time in my life, then finding them in the German attacking end begging forgiveness, hoping that by thought alone, I hadn’t cost the win by not wanting to run up the score. It was such a long seven minutes. Then…there was that blissful pause, followed by the final whistle and referee signaling the end of the game. They’d done it. US Soccer had made the perfect ending to the perfect weekend, perfect game.




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