I would like to start by welcoming all my readers and thanking you for being a part of this Cheestesteak experience. I have an inkling that many of you may be reading this from your computers in New York because Paul just happened to send my blog to about 2,000 of his Long Island Fury players (he runs that club). Luckily, the blog was received with great enthusiasm in the Big Apple and from what Paul says I have a ton of great new fans. So, to all my Fury: I hope to see you at our games, especially the home opener on April 16th at Widener University. Paint your stomachs, make up cheers, hoot, and holler because it is all for the benefit of women’s soccer.
While there are no NERD ALERTS associated with this blog, I do want to tie into my last entry, Greatness 101 and the 10,000 hour rule. Don’t worry, I know I’m not lecturing in college and I’m aware that the attention span of most Americans is about 15 minutes, so while I’m dying to bore you with further detail on the concept of talent/greatness, I will primarily move on.
My next topic can’t really be discussed without mentioning that we won both of our games this weekend against Duke and UCONN (3-0, 3-1, respectively) in front of the usual extremely dedicated fans at USTC. There was a spotting of our new mascot but I think he is saving the big appearances for the real thing come April 16th.
It also can’t be discussed without mentioning that we had a very difficult fitness practice this afternoon and I can imagine that most of my teammates are curled up on some couch or some bed coaxing their legs out of their current protest (just like me).
Why do I bring both of these things up? Well, I have begun to ask myself an interesting and important question over the past few weeks, What if you are great at something that not many people care about?
It is common knowledge that even with the passing on Title IX, women’s professional team sports struggle greatly at making a profit and securing a deep fan base. The WNBA, which has been around for 14 years, just had its first team (The Connecticut Sun) come out with money in their pockets after the season. That is 13 years with 100% of their teams in the red. Let’s not even bring up the now defunct WUSA, the original women’s professional soccer league that folded three years after its inception and the softball league that was around for maybe a minute.
People, generally, don’t really care about women’s team sports. Take notice that I say “team sports”. Yes, female golfers and tennis players do very well for themselves. A combination of marketability, sex appeal and singular talent are a few reasons for this. But, women, for the most part, don’t watch sports and men want to watch the fastest, the strongest, and the most talented athletes. I’m a realist when I admit this is just not us ladies. Where does that leave the WPS? Desperately trying to find the right market, attract the necessary attention from the local media outlets, and most importantly attempting to SELL tickets to the games to just merely survive, let alone make a profit.
Knowing we are performing with little fan fare and for little pay (relatively speaking when compared to the men’s game), there must be a reason that we, the Philadelphia Independence and the WPS as a whole, continue to try to find the mysterious profitability formula. Those reasons are the purpose of writing this blog.
Most individuals in this world go about their professional lives being completely average. They do not excel at any one thing in particular. This is not to say they are not happy and successful but they never truly reach a level of greatness that we see with 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. Their professional lives lack what I believe to be the most influential feeling this world has to offer, PASSION.
I have always hated the idea of being average. I just can’t bring myself to do it. I believe that giving anything less than my best every single day I step on the field, like Steve Prefontaine says, “is sacrificing the gift”. As I have said before in all my blogs, I am lucky to be with an organization that thrives on this concept. Greatness is expected. Passion for the game is rampant and you can read it all over the walls in our players lounge.
Sure, many of us could be making more money in Corporate America slaving behind a desk from 9am to 5pm but with this team comes complete and utter FULFILLMENT. I walk into my house every night with cuts, bruises, bumps, strained muscles, and tired legs but I walk in so incredibly happy for what I get to do all day and who I get to do it with. How many people in this world can say that?
Truth of the matter, there is no place I would rather be than here in Philadelphia. There is no game I would rather be playing, not for all the money and fame this country has to offer. My desire to win and win as a Cheesesteak runs in my veins. What we get to do is so special and so unique that pursuing greatness is the reason I wake up in the morning and why I go to bed with a smile on my face. I will stand in freezing cold ice baths, I will run and sprint until I want to pass out, I will dive into crunching tackles, and I will pick myself up and do it all over again just for the feeling this game gives to me.
By playing our sport, we may not be changing the lives of the millions who don’t come to our games but I know for a fact we are changing the lives of the thousands who do. If there is just ONE young girl in the stands who goes home after watching our game and says to her parents, “that is what I want to do and that is who I want to be”, then every minute of those 10,000 hours becomes worth it.
After all these words – come out and meet my teammates and me at our home opener on April 16th.