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football Archive



June 2019



Nearly a Year of Football

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You know I love football (the kind I grew up calling soccer, not the kind where only like two people on the field touch the ball with their feet). I’m a Reign supporter (and have written in the past about how media fails to support women in football), a US Women’s National Team Supporter, and have just returned from the first of four trips I’ll be taking to France over the course of a month to watch six Women’s World Cup matches. And, as I shared in September, I’ve found a club to play with here in London. This post is a reflection on the last ten months.

Over the season (if my count is correct) I’ve played in about 20 matches. For a few weeks I was lucky enough to play on Saturdays and Sundays, which meant there were some weekends that were all football, all the time. Other than travel or being sick/injured, I’m at training every week, which this winter meant training in rain and snow. (I prefer snow, though it feels more dangerous). I also read a book on goal keeping, because it quickly became clear that even though I’ve been playing in goal since I was a kid, I didn’t have much of a strategy other than ‘stop the ball.’

The book helped me visualize a couple of things, and offered some good off-season strength exercises, but that’s not where the learning has happened. Those weeks of training drills and those 20 matches? That’s where I’ve been figuring things out and improving. I’ve grown in confidence and I feel more comfortable with my decision-making. I’ve got so much more to learn (including how to do a fucking goal kick that doesn’t end up at the chest of the opposition), but that’s what makes this so fun: there’s always more to learn.

Obviously I’ve been putting the work in, but I can also credit support I’ve gotten from our back line, the other keepers on the team, and the coach. One keeper is the team captain, and while she is good in goal, I think she’d prefer to be out on the pitch, somewhere mid-field. She knows about body positioning, and going to ground, and letting the defense know where she is. She warmed me up before matches, and shouted back to me after a goal or before a goal kick, telling me to just relax and keep going. I can’t begin to explain how helpful that has been.

The other new keeper on the team has been an awesome support as well, texting good wished before matches and sharing in frustration when a training has gone by where we haven’t had much time in goal. And the coach has helped me figure out how to fit in with the style of play the club promotes, was extremely patient when it was taking me forever to feel comfortable with going to ground when one-on-one against a striker, and is helping me figure out those damned goal kicks.

Last month the team held its end of year awards banquet. It was delightful to be in a room with so many amazing, talented, fun women. I don’t know all of them well, and in some ways I do still feel like the new girl … but on the other hand there were like 20 new girls this year, so I always felt like I had a place somewhere. I also was voted Most Improved, which, in my opinion, is one of the kindest bits of recognition out there. I worked hard this last year, and was surrounded by supportive teammates who had patience, who didn’t let any frustration they felt towards my performance impact our interactions, and who understood that I was always out there trying my best and working at getting better.


I’m excited for next year. I’m excited to get even more comfortable with my decision-making and my voice. I’m excited to get fitter (cross-training with football definitely helped my half-marathon time; in the off-season I’m going to spend more time on weights to increase my strength). I’m excited to welcome new members to the team and see what we can all do together. It’s fantastic to play with — and against — talented, tough, interesting women playing the sport they love.





September 2018



Back on the Pitch

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I currently have a large purplish-yellow bruise on the inside of my right knee, and a smaller one on my right. I’m also a little bit sunburned, thanks to having spent Sunday playing in my first league match in nearly two years. I’m sore, and I love it.

I started playing soccer when I was about six years old. Six-year-olds can’t really do that much on the field; there’s a lot of running around in bunches, and screwing up throw-ins. When I was a pre-teen, I started playing in goal, and never left. I played for 12 years growing up, and only stopped once I got to college. I then played off and on until I returned to Seattle seven years ago.

Thanks to a little serendipity, I ended up at a Sounders match with friends of a guy I’d just started dating (who is now my husband), and his team was looking for another player. I joined the team and played with them for almost five years. We only met on Sundays for matches; there were no practices. Sometimes folks went out for drinks after, and sometimes people brought their little kids to the games. It was a generally relaxed environment, and we were a solidly middling team.

Occasionally someone would join who took the whole thing more seriously than the rest of us, and would get frustrated that we didn’t practice. Those folks were often the ones to lose it with the refs. They were also folks who didn’t really last long. (We were sponsored by a tap house. Like, come on. Read the room.)

When our league unexpectedly shut down, we joined a different one. Our original league required a 50/50 split of men and women on the pitch, understanding that sometimes it’d be six men and five women, and sometimes it’d be the reverse. Unfortunately, there weren’t as many women who wanted to play co-ed soccer in Seattle, so most of the time it was the former, which meant six men and four women running around on the field, with me in goal.

When we switched to the new league, the rule was that it had to be five men and five women on the field, and the keeper could be a man or woman. Since we regularly had trouble finding more than five women available to play, I wasn’t able to be in goal anymore. Because of that, I left the team.

The only position I play is goalie, and while I’m not great at it, I love it. It’s a fun challenge, trying to keep the ball out of the net. I’m the only one on the field who can use her hands. I get to watch the game unfold ahead of me while also playing it. I have to learn how the back line (the defenders) play, so I can know when to expect that they’ll send the ball back to me, or clear it out.

(Also, I don’t have to run as much – I do enough of that on my own. My next half marathon is on October 7!)

When we moved to London I thought hey, maybe I’ve got a chance to start back up again. I did some research and found a club that practices just a couple miles away. They were open to new members, so I went to training.

That’s right, training! They actually practice every week. And then there are matches for an entire, proper season — September to May. It was a little awkward at first. People are nice, but they’re a club and many have been playing together for years. One can’t just drop in and immediately feel at home. I followed the drills, and was able to get a little time in goal that day. I came back the next week, and found there was another new goalie who had joined just before me, and she and I have quickly become buddies, commiserating when we have to do fitness drills or when we don’t get a lot of time practicing in the goal.

We played a scrimmage a couple of weeks ago, and just this weekend I played in my first real match, on the Reserves team. It feels so different from my time in Seattle. We had changing rooms, and proper warm-ups. It was a fairly hot day, and we played on turf, so we were all a bit sluggish. Our captain — who also plays in goal — was delightfully supportive. She warmed me up in goal, offered tips, and during the match, yelled to me (not at me) when I’d forget something or couldn’t recall the way this team does things (they have actual set plays! It’s amazing!).

There’s no guarantee I’ll get to play in any given week. The club has three teams – a rec team on Saturdays (starting this weekend), and then a First team and a Reserves team that play on Sundays. There are three keepers that I know of, and I’m probably the weakest, so I imagine if I do get to play, it’ll usually be on Saturdays.

It feels so good to be playing again. Yes, I’m older, and yes, each week I’m going to be sore the next day. I’m going to screw up on occasion. But I’m also going to get better. It’s so great to have someone (in this case, our manager and captain) offering direction about how improve. I love that I have the chance to keep getting better, and keep pushing myself.