Hope Solo. Megan Rapinoe. Kaylyn Kyle. Jessica Fishlock.
All world-class soccer athletes on the 2013 NWSL Seattle Reign FC roster.
Over this past summer, I had the privilege of working alongside them and the entire Seattle Reign FC team. Well, not really alongside, but near them, anyway! Before I get into my experiences working with the team organization over the summer, I want to explain why I had the interest to do so in the first place.
I’ll admit – up until watching the 2012 Summer Olympics I knew very little about Women’s Soccer. When the Olympics were broadcast, I had hoped to watch the U.S. Men’s team, but unfortunately, they were not medal contenders. So I tuned-in to the U.S. Women’s team. I am so glad I did.
Before watching the women’s team compete, I was vaguely aware of some the “big name” players: Hope Solo, Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach. But I had not watched any of them in action. The Olympics was my chance to educate myself on the women’s game and its players. And for those who watched the U.S. Women go undefeated in the 2012 Olympics, you’re fully aware of the intensity they brought to the pitch every time as they worked their way to their Gold Medal victory.
While my wife and I enthusiastically watched each match unfold, we would frequently talk about how great it would be if there was a national women’s soccer league in the United States. Imagine our surprise when, not shortly after the end of the U.S. medal run, the NWSL was formally announced! Even more excitement ensued when it was announced that not only would Seattle have one of the inaugural teams, but Olympic team members Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and Amy Rodriguez would be on the roster.
My wife wound up winning VIP tickets to the inaugural home match for the Seattle Reign FC (through soccerbuddies!). Watching the match from the sideline tables was an absolute thrill. No one in my family had before experienced a sporting event where we were so close to the action. The match was awesome to watch, the players were incredible, and the Seattle Reign FC personnel were so very polite, professional, and accommodating. The entire organization was so very impressive. That night, the bug got into me to want to do something more and somehow be part of the organization.
On a whim, I contacted the Seattle Reign FC to let them know that I would be more than happy to help out if they ever needed volunteers. A couple weeks later they called and offered me the opportunity to help out at their home games.
I’ve performed a variety of tasks as a volunteer. Some may consider them menial, but they’re jobs that need to be done each match and if someone needs to do them, it might as well be me! I’ve taken tickets, set up VIP tables, performed crowd control duties, handed out bracelets, and answered general questions by attendees. One of the most memorable tasks was when we had to blow up hundreds of inflatable thunder sticks to hand out to attendees as they arrived. That provided us a lot of light-headed fun!
And what did I get out of all this? The privilege of being around some of the best female soccer players in the world on almost a weekly basis, having the opportunity to chat with some of them from time-to-time, and take countless pictures of them with my kids (and, yes, I worked myself into some of those pics as well). I’ve gotten to know some fabulous people within the Reign FC organization, from the owner to marketing and sales personnel, and a few others. The level of professionalism exhibited by everyone I encountered was second to none.
As the weeks progressed, it was obvious that the team itself had its share of obstacles to overcome. The first half of the season wasn’t the most ideal. At each game that I worked, I shared in the frustration the team and organization felt through every kick, every bump, every close call…and every defeat. But through all the moans, groans, and disappointing outcomes, the players and members within the organization stayed strong. No one ever gave up hope. The camaraderie among those involved – from the owner all the way down to those of us who volunteered – just grew stronger. Our sights never strayed away from the future and the next game and, hopefully, the eventual run of victories.
Then the wins started come. The second half of the season was much better than the first. There were a few roster changes and tactical changes by the coach. The team grew stronger. Our hopes grew stronger. Our spirits grew stronger. And, for some time, the Seattle Reign was the strongest team in the league. Unfortunately, it was too late to turn things around in the standings, and the Reign FC ended in seventh place in the NWSL.
Despite the outcome at the end of the season, I would not have given up my time and experiences with the Seattle Reign FC for anything. I made some new friends and got to work with some of the greatest female athletes in the world. It just goes to show, you don’t have to win the league championship to be champions.
And to have had the opportunity to walk amongst champions, well, it just doesn’t get much better than that.
~ E.S.Brown is an aspiring author whose debut novel is due in 2014. He divides his time between his day job, his family, his writing, and being a soccer parent.