This is Stephanie’s story. Stephanie is a PR professional by day, soccer lover by–well, at all times really–from small town Ohio now living in Cleveland. Not only does she love soccer, she loves her two pet rabbits as well! Let’s get to know her better.
Q: Tell us about your very first soccer game.
A: Wow, this is a tough question. In elementary school, I lived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania so we went to Harrisburg Heat games sometimes (I even got to play on the field in elementary school!) – they were part of the NPSL – I believe. My first U.S. Women’s National team game was at Hershey Park, PA right after the 1999 win – sadly I don’t remember much haha! Really, I just remember watching the U.S. Women’s National Team win the 1999 Women’s World Cup. I remember making our own signs and we were so excited to watch!
I played soccer through high school and would watch occasionally if we got games, but the most meaningful game I went to in the last ten-ish years was ironically the USWNT vs. Japan in Columbus, Ohio on May 14, 2011, right before the 2011 Women’s World Cup. My mom and I went and it was such a fun atmosphere, and the U.S. won making it so much more fun! After the game we got to meet a lot of the players, and I got my picture with Hope Solo. I think the contrast between the men’s and women’s games is how much more of a family the USWNT felt like to me! It really made me excited too since we were going to Germany for the first two group games in June of 2011!
Q: What team(s) do you follow, and what leagues are they in? How did you start following those teams?
A: My main teams are the USWNT, USMNT, Columbus Crew (I’m a season ticket holder but don’t always make it to every game since I live 2 hours away) and Portland Timbers (Caleb Porter – Akron connection, I went to a game out there in 2013). Across the pond, I root for Bayern Munich for my German roots – I really learned about them in 2011 when I went and we can finally find them on tv sometimes! As for English Premier League, I haven’t really picked a team. I tend to root for Everton or any USMNT players – or whatever team is playing Arsenal (my husband’s team).
Q: What about the game hooked you?
A: The trip we took to the 2011 Women’s World Cup was my final hook! We went to the first two group games and it was AMAZING. We also got to interact with a lot of the players since they weren’t as “famous” as they are now. We even met Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain in Germany. It was just so awesome! I had always enjoyed going to USMNT and USWNT games but this made it an obsession. Also, you can never beat a USMNT v Mexico Dos a Cero match in Columbus!
Q: With whom in your life do you share soccer?
A: My family. My mom is who really started me on this path to obsession with the USWNT. She was the one who wanted to go to Germany. When I met my now husband, I think our biggest draw to each other was our common thread of soccer. My sister and her husband and my father are all really into it too! I like to think I’ve also made a lot of my friends in this not-so-soccer-crazy town at least enjoy it a little!
Q: Have you traveled to any away games for your team? Where did you go and what was the experience like?
A: I wish I could say I had traveled more for my teams! For the Crew, I just can’t manage the Nordecke on Tour trips sadly. For the USWNT, I’ve traveled to Philadelphia a few times, Toronto, Germany, Rochester and now Canada. We’ve been lucky to have them come to Columbus a few times and even Cleveland once a few years ago. For the USMNT, I’ve traveled to Nashville and Columbus – plus a game in Cleveland.
Q: Tell us about your trip to Canada. How does one plan and execute an awesome trip like that?
A: Basically we knew after the last World Cup that we were going to Canada this year! My mom is a really great planner, so she and I split the cities prior to the draw and researched where we should stay and how much flights were, etc. It actually came in handy because we ended up booking the Winnipeg hotel prior to the draw to get one we liked!
It was so fun to be there for the first two group games! It was definitely a much more family-based crowd than last time but the stadium was so fun! Everyone was chanting and cheering for the U.S.! I am part of the American Outlaws but we chose to get other seats – they were on the mid-field line in the upper deck but it was still really fun! I think the best part was meeting the other fans around us and hearing where they were from and how they got there! Other than the games we did go to, one of the night-before-parties and also watching the USMNT game with the AO at the bar they were using as a home base. It’s always so much fun to be surrounded by so many people who are passionate about the same thing you are! It’s so crazy to me how much the USWNT have grown in popularity over just the last few years!
We got lucky in 2011 with access to the players – we chose to never really ask for photos since we were in the hotel with them – but out first hotel was with the team families and our final hotel actually ended up being the team hotel! I’m sure now they are way more protective and have a lot more security. We would just tell the players good luck and they were also so thankful we were there!
Q: Do you have any personal soccer-related traditions? What are they?
A: The one thing my family always does is we have to get a picture with an American flag in our seats. I have so many! I also really love fun shoes and sunglasses to match my gear if I have them!
Q: What is the impact soccer has had on your life?
A: Some really cool friends from around the world and a chance to travel! It’s such a fun community to be a part of! Even though I always complain my life is series of sitting in bars with a bunch of guys, I’m really okay with it ;). I have also met a lot of really great people through American Outlaws Akron Chapter and play on a co-ed team with them all each week!
Q: If you could tell everyone in the world one thing about soccer, what would it be?
A: It’s not boring! I’ve gotten some friends into it just by taking them to a game.
Thanks to Stephanie for her time and sending me such amazing pictures! I wish I could say I’ve been to all those cool places and had those experiences but that’s what makes us all so unique. I can’t wait to share more of these wonderful women’s stories with you and I can’t wait to hear yours. Tweet me at @starrphishe, tweet at @WUnitedFC, or leave us a note in the contact box below and we would love to share your #WomenLoveSoccer story.