People love soccer for many different reasons. I love soccer because of the way it brings people together.
I played soccer as a child. I fell in love with it after watching Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, and Landon Donovan (y’all can hate as much as you want, but growing up and watching him was incredible). I was convinced that I was going to be just like them. Shortly after my parents divorced, I started playing. It was an outlet for me. As a child, you do not know how to get emotions out, but when I was on that field, nothing else mattered. In my head I was Hamm and Chastain, but in reality, I think I scored like 3 goals ever—so I was not going to be either one. Life happened, injuries happened, financial burdens happened—I did not continue to play on a team.
I remember when I went to my first KC Wiz game at Arrowhead and then following them to the T-Bones stadium with their rebrand as Sporting KC. During this transition it was a weird time in my life. I started going through some personal things and really hit a low, low. Anxiety and depression are rough to go through alone, but when I went to a game, it just went away. Watching your favorite game with people who are just as passionate about it is a great feeling. I am not a person who is really close to many people, so this is truly the only time I felt close, with tons of strangers.
When I finally went to a game at the newly constructed soccer specific stadium, Livestrong Park (that sure was short lived), I noticed these crazy loud people—-The Cauldron. I think I only went to one game where I sat somewhere else besides the supporter’s section. After I was in the supporter’s section, I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. Now when you tell someone you are going to a game and you do not sit down, people will look at you like you are insane. Its loud, there’s singing, there’s beer on babies (on accident of course!), some very drunk people, some very sober people, some confused people, and some excited people. You have flags, you have confetti, you have high fives, you have lots of collective screaming at the referees. For a person who suffers from anxiety and depression—–screaming, jumping around, and having a roller coaster of emotions during a game truly feels like a great freedom from yourself. You get your feelings out and everyone around you is doing the same. After a few games, I started seeing the same people over and over and actually made friends! Making friends’ as an adult is hard, so hard, but with soccer—man it makes it so easy.
I have met so many great people in Kansas City because of soccer. The real fun starts when you start going to away games, for us we call it “Roaddron”. I will never forget my first away game; it was to see SKC and FC Dallas play. There were some people I somehow stumbled upon on Twitter who are FC Dallas supporters (Dallas Beer Guardians) and I thought, well I guess I will go talk to them. That was the best ideas that I have ever had. I drank far too much that day—as they know how to throw one hell of a tailgate and welcome supporters groups. I did not know it just yet, but I made lifelong friends that day.
After that, I decided to offer my house to other supporters to stay at if they decided to come see their team play against us in Kansas City. I wanted to return the hospitality I received. Soon enough I had Rapids, Timbers, Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, Sounders, and FCD supporters who slept on my couch and my floor. We would stay up late and talk about life, watch movies, eat too much pizza, give each other shit about each others teams, go on adventures, and just have a genuinely great time. Now that I live in Vegas and we have a USL team, I am excited to share the love again and make new memories.
The best thing about Twitter has been the soccer family I have formed. I have met my best friends because of Twitter and Soccer. You know that anxiety and depression I have? Well, I found out many soccer friends also experience those. We can talk to each other any day, any night, every day or once every six months—we are there for each other no matter what. That is the best bond you can have. Some days I did not think I was going to make it another day. Some days I truly thought that this was it. My friends talked me through it. They saved me and I do not think they actually know it. I admire and love each and every one of you who have been there for me in any capacity.
I am thankful every single day for every single person I have met through soccer. We all experience the same thing in separate ways and we support each other. There is so much love there, that I do not think I would experience anywhere else. Most of my best friends are RSL, Sounders, or FC Dallas supporters. I love that no matter what the outcome of the game, they will welcome you with open arms and just continue being genuine people (well okay, SOME Sounders supporters will not do that…but they are assholes that you just have to love anyways). They have helped me through some of the hardest times of my life. I am forever grateful for them.
I have watched 13 of my soccer friends get engaged, I have flown to their weddings, I have helped friends through suicidal thoughts, they helped me get to my dying grandfather, I talked them through assaults, been their shoulder to cry on, they have helped me on my darkest days and saved me from my own thoughts, and they have given me a place to stay and supported me on all my crazy ass adventures.
The amount of love that surrounds all of us with all supporters groups is amazing. I love every single person I have met through soccer. I love meeting new supporters and learning their stories. I love having drinks with new people and learning why they love the game. Soccer is beautiful. Soccer has saved my life. Soccer is family.
(Also if you are reading this and experience any type of depression , please reach out to me. I am here for you and love you, no matter what.)