Soccer….Family Style

Did You Feel It?

This is my blurry photo of Rapinoe’s greatness. You won’t need crisp edges to feel that unbounded joy and accomplishment.

Could you feel it? At home, or in the bar? Could you feel it in the upper decks of the stadium? This USWNT was different, and I didn’t fully feel it until they were right there in front of me. The relentless force of a group of women who refused to stop, refused to listen, refused to behave. They would not stop celebrating and be less than they are because their critics were made uncomfortable by their unabashed awesomeness. They kept scoring goals, and they mocked those who said they celebrated too much and then went right on celebrating.

They were clinically well planned out, and well coached through the entire tournament. Every team they faced was met with their own special branded Kryptonite. It didn’t matter what the opponent’s style of play was, Jill’s got an attack for that, and a team that would steal soul after soul with devastatingly beautiful touch.

But what I loved most about this team was how intensely they played their game as themselves. That’s what we tell our kids, right? Be yourself, do your best, stand up for others. Go dye your hair purple and bring home an armload of trophies. Never make yourself smaller because someone else can’t dream as big as you can. Go wear your shorts a little goofy and who cares if you look nothing like a professional soccer player. You go teach THEM what a championship soccer player looks like and make them regret they ever told you no when you streak down the field and bury it in the back of the net.

I could run for weeks on the focus in Alex Morgan’s eyes every time she ran toward us with the ball on her foot. Her look was a thousand years of silencing “smile more” dudes. It was absolutely terrifying and ferocious, and I will remember it forever. There are lessons in this team that I will love forever, and I’m gratefully inspired to live my life more relentlessly, authentically, my bodacious self for the rest of my days, and I hope you felt it too.



Good Times at the US Open Cup
May 21, 2013, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, Supporter Culture | Tags: , , , ,


It’s just before midnight on our way home from the Des Moines Menace win at the US Open Cup game in Minnesota, basking in the late night glow of our road win. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make this trip. I missed the Menace home opener to a migraine, and yesterday, my day started with a 6 AM wakeup to 5 year old screaming in ear infection pain. Having already been though tubes with him, I sure as heck wasn’t going to OK a roadie to stand in the rain and get home at 1 AM not even 24 hours into antibiotics. But then…talking to my mother in law about the game, his illness, my general aggravation that my darling husband had just assumed he could take my car on this trip….she said, “Just bring him over here, we’ll watch him so you can go.” Dumbfounded, I said “No, really, I just wanted to vent, I’m OK with staying home with him.” To which, my amazing mother in law replied, “I know you really like going to these games, it’s OK, bring him.” Oh glorious, happy day of marrying so well, even your extended family is awesome.

So five minutes prior to departure, I got added to the travel roster, while I was still thinking about NYCFC and writing my book, so even know, I barely know how to react to this day. So I’m coping out, and listing what’s awesome about today:

1. My mother in law: Thank you Caryl, for making my supporter life meets mama world a tiny bit easier.
2. Lower League, part 1: One of my MLS friends posted on FB today that he was doing X while his MLS team was playing in Open Cup because “I’ll care about Open Cup when you do, [MLS Team Name].” That’s just lame. Every team should care about Open Cup….except you, Sporting…don’t you worry about our little PDL club.

3. Lower League, part 2: I used to wish that I could magically live in Des Moines AND have it be and MLS city. And I’ve had soccer-loving friends say they could never live in a city that’s lower league. But you know what? Lower league is awesome. We can walk up to our players after every game. Our owner and GM are accessible, and love the game in a way I don’t often see in the MLS. I especially loved watching our new GM Matt Homonoff at the game tonight, panic stricken look on his face, praying along with us for a Menace goal. I liked our previous GM, but I’m kinda crazy about this new guy.

4. The supporters: When my MIL offered to watch my sick kiddo, and I had to choose to go or no go, it wasn’t just the team I was excited to see. I wanted to go hang out with Minnesota United’s Dark Clouds Supporters Group. A few I’d met through crossover with Minnesota 1st Volunteers, the local USMNT supporters group, and others I met when we hosted the Open Cup last year and they road tripped to see us. It’s nice that outside of “those 90 minutes,” we’re all friends.

2012 Open Cup game brought Minnesota's Dark Clouds to Des Moines

2012 Open Cup game brought Minnesota’s Dark Clouds to Des Moines

That’s it. I’m completely excited about going to KC next week. Totally exhausted, but home safe. On to round 3!

Robbie Rogers Comes Out By Blog Post Read By My 10 Year Old
February 16, 2013, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Major League Soccer, Supporter Culture, US Soccer | Tags: , , , ,

robbie respectI got the news of Robbie Rogers’ coming out via my 10 year old daughter reading his blog post aloud as I was driving, with her five year old brother listening. His message is a bittersweet and poignant reminder that our society is far from a welcoming utopia, but to hear his words through my daughter, and hearing my children’s reaction gives me hope.

It’s school intercession this week, and since the kids and I will be spending Spring Break in Denver, we’ve been working pretty hard on our house project (the blog/project that keeps me from posting more here). We were taking a drive out to southwest Iowa to check out a new fireplace mantle, listening to NPR, waiting for Science Friday to talk about the asteroid flyby (I know, I have a five and ten year old who ask to listen to NPR, we’re a geeky family, what can I say?) While we waited, they had an interview of some hateful man ranting about the Boy Scouts and gays, saying things that were nothing short of horrifying. I want my kids to know about the world, but do I really want them exposed to hatred?

They know homophobia exists. When my daughter was the flower girl in my Aunties’ wedding, our former next door neighbor found out that we (gasp!) don’t mind having gay friends and family, and had her daughter stop playing with my daughter. That was basically the last straw in staying in that house, and we soon moved to our current neighborhood, River Bend, which is much more in line with our world view:  economically and racially diverse, and is affectionately referred to as “the best damn gayborhood in Des Moines.” Viva diversity!

NPR turned to Science Friday soon enough, and we continued our mission for the perfect fireplace mantle. We were on our way back to Des Moines when my phone beeped the notification from a writer/soccer friend from AO Iowa City had just written me a Facebook message that just said “ROBBIE ROGERS!!!!!” in vaguebooking style of leaving message open to anything from Rogers in near-fatal accident to amazing trade/score/news. I wrote back “What?” and flipped open Twitter in attempt to answer my own question. It took no time to find this blog post in my feed, but since I was driving, I asked my 10 year old daughter to read it.

My kids are growing up Jewish in Iowa. They know what it’s like to be a minority and get teased for it. We talked about how hard it must be to feel like you have to hide who you are from everyone, even your family. When asked, my daughter said she didn’t think it should make a difference if a player is gay, full of child-like wisdom with “It’s who he is, all that should matter is how he plays.” Absolutely right, kiddo.

So we join in the outpouring of support for Robbie Rogers, which made me so proud yesterday, to read so much love and support for a player who really should only be famous for what he’s added as a player. While I look forward to the day when he wouldn’t have to have suffered so long with this secret, I’m so grateful that my kids got to share in his coming out message, and they now have a new role model for living an authentic life. Hopefully his step away from soccer will be short lived now that he knows the soccer fans and players can stay classy. Well done and best wishes, Robbie Rogers.

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