This is the second part of a series with Arielle Castillo, Senior Editor at MLS. In case you missed part one, make sure you read it first!
Has being a woman been difficult in this particular job or any particular job?
At my last job, there were a ton of women at the organization. I have only good things to say about that company and their hiring practices and their diversity. That was actually really inspiring in that way.
Now, in some ways, it can be an advantage in some ways, because I think people will remember you more, for better or worse. I think where it gets weird sometimes — this is not really so much with MLS, but it can get weird reporting at a big event and you’re in the press box, and you’re one of three people. You’re trying to wait in a mixed zone or you’re trying to wait in a locker room, things can get a little weird. People can get really pushy. You have to learn to be aggressive in certain situations. I’m just thinking of mixed zones in particular. People will just steamroll you, but I guess they’re steamrolling literally anyone, so you have to just put on your big girl pants and deal with it.
I think one thing that I’m fairly passionate about, I feel positive about, is that in North America in particular, because the fandom is young, because the game is not quite as established domestically, I think people are open to what would be considered change in other environments. In other words, in England, where the teams have been around for 100 years and people are used to things being done a certain way, if someone comes along that’s not that exact way, it’s a much bigger deal. Here, everything’s still being written and put together, and I think, especially with MLS, we have a really young-skewing audience that, gender wise, is pretty mixed.
I wish more women would get involved in working in the industry, though, because, fan wise, it’s pretty diverse, but certainly in the media, it’s not. . . . In an ideal world, people would realize that you can come cover the men’s game, you don’t only have to cover women’s soccer. It can be very daunting for sure. You have to be pretty aggressive and unflappable sometimes.
Do you have any advice?
Don’t talk yourself out of trying to get into the industry before you even start. It can be super intimidating when you’re standing there and it’s a bunch of big dudes literally yelling over you or interrupting you. Again, they’re interrupting everyone, so it can be a very aggressive environment, and when you see all of that and you see there aren’t that many women, people kind of count themselves out from the beginning, even if it’s subconsciously. . . . Try to pursue your goal as much as you can and try to reach out to other women in the industry because when they meet other women in the industry, it’s really cool. We’re all looking out for each other. You just kind of have to ignore the naysayers or even your own internal critic and just stay focused. . . . you should definitely reach out to specific people whose work you admire or who you’re interested in and just say hi, because people do that, I love it, and I want to help everyone, and I think there are a lot of other folks who think the same way. Even though that’s scary, too, it’s totally worth it to just ask people for their time or help and try to offer something back, but you just have to be really aggressive and really assertive…
On another note, are you on the Christian Pulisic Hype Train?
Yes. I’m on the Hype Train, especially after his performance the other day in the UEFA Champions League [against Legia Warsaw], that was pretty good. I think the Bundesliga’s really kicking butt. I think they’re doing a great job marketing, too. It seems like a good place for young players. . . . Hopefully there will be more young American soccer stars soon. It seems a little unusual because obviously, in other countries, there are people that are stars at 17 or 18, but here, it’s still a new thing for Americans.
Pulisic fever has reached PEOPLE, people! https://t.co/yaJYDmOkTp
— Arielle Castillo (@ariellec) June 3, 2016
What was your favorite game that you’ve been to?
Definitely the [Confederations] Cup playoff last year was crazy because I had never seen anything like that, and up until the end, it seemed like the US had a shot. It was funny because I was going to go down to the press conference room — I always go down 15 minutes before the 90. I was walking down and the game was still going on, and I saw this space that wasn’t really being guarded that led over to the corner, so I was like “let me just walk over there with my credential and see if anyone stops me,” and no one did. So, I hung out and watched from the corner when they [the US] equalized [through Bobby Wood’s 108th minute goal] or whatever — I don’t remember. It seemed like we would have a shot. We didn’t. That was crazy to see up close. That was pretty cool.
Other memorable moments: definitely the 7-0 game, the New York derby this year. . . . That was crazy just to be there when it happened. I was kind of glad I got to see that with my own eyes. My first MLS Cup was cool, as staff. That was last year. . . . It was so cold that we were working in the press box afterwards, and we had to go back to the hotel afterwards because our hands weren’t working. We’ll see who hosts this year.
After a series of MLS post-season predictions that would now seem very outdated, the topic shifted to Arsenal Fan TV.
Oh my God, I met that guy [Robbie, the host of Arsenal Fan TV]! . . . For me, that was like seeing a celebrity. People who don’t watch it don’t understand. . . . I wish there was an MLS equivalent of Arsenal Fan TV here in this country because it’s so good on so many levels. I wish someone would do that. . . . It’s so funny. All those drunk, angry people — they’re angry no matter what. It’s so good. You hear all these different crazy accents. Everyone’s wasted. . . . I feel like Arsenal Fan TV is awesome if you love Arsenal, but also awesome if you hate them.
— ArsenalFanTV (@ArsenalFanTV) November 19, 2016
Are you Wenger In or Wenger Out?
I’m Wenger In. It’s so disrespectful. He’s been there for 20 years. . . . I do think he should make some changes, and I think he should be more open to actually signing people. . . . This year’s a little anemic. They definitely need a little more depth at center back and positions like that.
It can be really hard, especially if you’re in a position where you’re managerial, it can be very challenging to say what you feel while still worrying about being seen as nice or not, and I think that’s something that could shoot a lot of women in the foot. And I think that’s something that I still struggle with, too. You worry that you have to soften your critique or soften your opinion and pose it as a question or say it in a way that’s not going to offend people. My other piece of advice is just try as hard as you can to just forget about that. Present your opinions, your directions, whatever, without emotion because that’s what men do and they don’t worry about whether people will like them or not. It’s super hard, but I think that’s the number one thing. There’s a saying about “act with the confidence of a man” and I think that can be useful to tell yourself.
Editor’s Note: If you enjoyed this, let us know! Women in Soccer is a venture to inspire girls and women to follow their dreams, to learn from each other and to create a supportive network. We’ll be speaking with women in all aspects of soccer – athletes, journalists, program developers, administrative, photographers, referees, etc. If you or someone you know loves soccer and has made it a part of their life, let us know!