This is Marissa’s Story:
We’re thrilled that #WomenLoveSoccer has been inspiring more and more women to come out and announce their passion, love, knowledge and experiences in the world of soccer. Today’s submission comes from a reader and blogger Marissa Blackman! Marissa’s story reminds me of mine — a lot of seemingly shy supporters find their loudest voice and calling within the writing medium. Once we’re in that zone, you can’t quiet us down! Follow her on Twitter at @trynafindaname! If you too want to share your experiences, contact us below, on social, or in person!
Q: Tell us about your very first soccer game.
A: “I was first exposed to soccer in the summer before I entered second grade. My aunt was babysitting me and she decided that I need to do something more than watch TV with my time. She tried to sign me up for gymnasitcs, but my Dad was afraid I’d get hurt. She enrolled my in a local soccer camp.”
Camp was a nice couple hours of distraction from doing nothing all day. I liked it, but I didn’t love it yet. I liked it enough to beg my parents to let me play on an actual team during the following fall season. To be honest, I hated training. It was extremely tedious, and I wanted to do my own thing. For example, I believed it was better to kick with the tips of my toes than the insides of my feet. Although I understand the wisdom of his words now, I thought my coach was absolutely ludicrous for trying to change my style at the time.
I absolutely loved competing in actual matches. It was so exhilarating, and, though no score was kept, I was ecstatic every time I scored. I didn’t play anymore after that season. As much as I loved playing, I really hated training…and taking direction. I came to the conclusion that being on a team, even a recreational one, wasn’t right for me.
Q: What team(s) do you follow, and what leagues are they in? How did you start following those teams?
A: Soon after [camp], my mother’s job began sponsoring the local USL PRO (now USL) club, the Wilmington Hammerheads, which meant she got free tickets. I fell even deeper in love with soccer watching the Hammerheads. Although it may sound strange, I got more excitement watching other people play than I did playing myself.
Through the years, a lot happened. My mom worked at several different places. The league changed it’s name to USL. Several teams have come into and left the league. The Hammerheads became Wilmington Hammerheads FC. There have been plenty of roster and staff changes. The team even went out of existence for a couple years. I became obsessed with reading so much that I wanted to write my own books. I grew up! I’ve always gone to Hammerheads games.
As I got older and started using the internet on my own, I began exploring MLS and European leagues. At the time, I didn’t have the right channels to watch any of the teams I was reading about.
The first major league I watched on TV was the Italian Serie A. The first match I watched was A.C. Milan vs. Cagliari. It was during the good days for Milan when Ibrahimovich, Thiago Silva, and an in-form Balotelli were all still at the club. Serie A games came on at the exact time every week that I arrived to visit my grandfather.
Q: What about the game hooked you?
A: I found YouTube channels, blogs, and Twitter accounts that gave me the soccer news, commentary, and comedy I desired. One day, the Hammerheads retweeted that a blog was looking for someone to cover the team. I got in touch with them. I was excited about the prospect of being able to combine my two loves – soccer and writing. I had combined the two before on various platforms, but I was more excited about this particular blog because it was already established so it was more likely that people would actually read my writing.
As the start of the season grew closer, I realized that they wanted me to interview players! I was equal parts ecstatic and nervous out of my mind. I knew nothing about interviewing nor journalism, and I was painfully shy. I could’ve easily backed out, but for some reason I just couldn’t shy away from the challenge. I did a lot of reading and research, so by the time the season started I felt slightly more prepared for the challenge.
Especially in the beginning, between nerves and inexperience, I probably made no sense, but the players have always been willing to talk and very cordial.
Q: With whom in your life do you share soccer?
A: By the beginning of the next season, I started my own blog with a couple of other writers. Through Twitter and Facebook, I’ve made some soccer friends. There is even a journalist I met at a Hammerheads game that agreed to mentor me for my senior project.
After almost two seasons of blogging, I can say that my writing has definitely improved. I’m a little better at interviews, and I’ve learned so much from advice and example from my journalist and blogger peers.
Like Alicia mentioned, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how kind and inclusive soccer people have been. There have been so many people along the way that didn’t have to talk to me, but they did. Supporters groups, front offices, players, bloggers, and journalists have all made me feel like I belong.
Q: Anything else that you’d like to share with us?
This is the USL piece I’m most proud of: Why MLS Teams are not bad for USL.
I’m so glad Marissa shared her story! If you enjoyed this, you will probably love following her articles and will likely soon see her blogging about USL here! Tweet at @WUnitedFC or @starrphishe or @chandrimatweets, or leave us a note in the contact box below and we would love to share your #WomenLoveSoccer story! Don’t forget, your words and story have an impact on others – the more we share, the better we all become! Thanks.