Quick step back into the joys and excitement of yesterday.
Incredibly; it was much warmer here in Los Angeles then it was in Kansas City when I left. Many people were speaking of the incredible heatwave that had gripped this area. I thought that they had been full of it when i woke up and stepped out of my hotel. It was cloudy, cool, with a pleasant Pacific breeze.
How can a heatwave come from that?
Easy, the clouds can go away.
After spending my Sunday morning driving The “405”, to I-110, across to The Home Depot Center in Carson, California; I was quick to find the closest Starbucks. There may be a ton of Starbucks in California, but I’ll most definitely give them credit in saying that they know how to make a good mocha. I know that Starbucks has a standard protocol for making each drink that you can find nationwide. However, whatever this crew does differently, it was definitely noted. The mocha was smooth, creamy, I could taste the espresso, but I could also taste the mocha blended smoothly through the drink. It was excellent and a benefit as I strolled over to the HDC [Home Depot Center]. After paying another $15 for ‘standard parking’ I quickly found myself sitting next to Ness and Jen awaiting some of their friends for the big game that I had traveled out here for.
Soon three younger women, college age, were around Jen and Ness; they were all laughing and carrying on. The mood was light, and the atmosphere was stirring; then the sun came out.
It went from 70 to 115 degrees in about three minutes. No sunscreen, so of course I burned like none other. Eventually the gates opened up and we started to pour into the stadium
As a soccer specific stadium; the HDC is incredible. Small, compact, and perfect for American soccer. Compared to Livestrong Sport Park? There isn’t even a contest. Jen, Ness, and myself found ourselves two and four rows from the field in the scorching direct sunlight for the entire match. However, when the national team players are that close to you; it’s hard to even care about the heat [aside from the growing sunburn].
Ness took off like a rocket when we stepped into the seating area. We couldn’t figure out why until we found her running down the stairs to the very edge of the seating. There, Aussie and all, she started to wave and yell at some of the Australian National Team players. Of course I would find myself hanging out with someone who played club soccer with these players. So, while waiting for the game to start, during warm ups; I got to just watch and listen to Ness and these players just carry on conversations as if they were neighbors. Go ahead, ask me if I’d ever been that close to national players from another country; yes, never. As quick as they came, they went back into their locker room for pregame.
We took our seats and waited for the crowds to arrive. By 12:30 AM PST there were close to 19,000 people crammed into this stadium; not a sold out event. Australia got off to a rocket start, and by half they were leading 1-0 over the United States. Truthfully, it was evident that when you’re playing a game that isn’t worth anything [not a qualifier] there isn’t much motivation except to please the public [aka US Soccer Federation]. Needless to say, as expected the USA came back in the second half with a quick goal and a PK to win the match 2:1. The little girls were thrilled, LA saw their childhood stars carry on, and the head coach left the USA on a good note.
Warm fuzzy’s all around.
Naturally, like many of the ‘critics’ out there I saw the game in its political sake of a ease of enthusiasm to the fans of the United States. It is what it is, for me it was definitely more about growing knowledgeable about the dynamics around me.
During halftime I was able to meet several individuals that follow me on Twitter, and even two of most vocal people on the USA women’s deaf national team [who had just won a gold medal in the Deaf World Cup]. It was incredible to see so many people around me, so passionate, so moving on what their dream is; growing women’s soccer. So many, like the captain of the national team for the USA women’s deaf program had been neglected by so many over her 16 years of playing, and yet she never/hasn’t stopped. Jen and Ness, several times they were being told that their philosophy, their location, their dream wouldn’t succeed. This trip wasn’t just about the national game and Los Angeles, it was about finding the root, the believers, the growers, and the faithful.
While I did leave burnt to a crisp from that game, while sitting at Starbucks afterwards with Jen and Ness, prior to them hopping on their flight for home; it was a few hours of growth, determination, and fueling frustration. The system for women’s soccer in Australia is a complete mess. You/I think the US has it rough? We’re clueless. The USA Women’s National Deaf program? They have to find $120,000 prior to the Deaflympics next year in Bulgaria. These are programs that have been around, they have existed, and yet they continue to struggle. Who am I, the owner of a new program with fresh legs, to complain about the ‘unknown’ versus the rough and tumble?
While physically I’m rather spent, even though technically I haven’t done much [warning: allergies…dang…smoking me right now], mentally I’m charged and ready to go at. There’s so much to do in so little time, and even though I want nothing but success for the Kansas City Shock; mentally, it is so, so bigger. I want to run with Legacy FC, help Milwaukee United get off the ground, hang out with the Gulf Coast Texans, and watch the fans stream in for everyone of them, regardless of size.
The potential lies for something incredible, unique, and innovative, and this weekend; I got a taste of how far we’ve already come.
P.S. The left over Chicken Parm was out of this world good! Even without a fork.