Sunday, February 22, 2009

Preaching the Red Stars on a Sunday Morning in a Catholic High School

After watching Fulham top West Brom at the Highbury Pub early this morning, i joined Red Stars Account Executive Carrie Sear at Milwaukee's Pius XI High School to speak to the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association. By the way, there are funnier school nicknames out there, but i've always found it humorous that the women's athletic teams at Pius are nicknamed the "Lady Popes".

It was great to see old friends, several of whom helped with our unsuccessful efforts in 2006 and 2007 to bring an MLS team to Milwaukee including Wisconsin Youth Soccer Association's (WYSA) Terry Donini.

WSCA President Chris Martinelli and longtime WSCA leader Marti Coan invited us to speak to the group about the Red Stars. Among other things, i told the group about the Red Stars upcoming season, the similarities and differences between WUSA and WPS, the inspiration the WYSA played in the Red Stars partnership with the IWSL and three important reasons to attend Red Stars games:

1) Entertainment
2) Education
3) Aspiration

i specifically told the coaches that they shouldn't bring their teams and clubs out "because it's women's soccer and supporting women's sports is the right thing to do." i hear this occasionally and it bothers me, because that mentality positions WPS as a charity or a cause, which it is not.

i told them, instead, that they should attend and encourage others to attend first and foremost, because the games are going to be entertaining, high level and fun.

Secondly, i told the coaches to use the professional game as an educational tool to help their players get better by watching the professional game in person and the nationally televised games on Fox Soccer Channel. This will allow players and coaches to learn from WPS and improve the sport at all levels.

Finally, i told them my belief that professional women soccer players aren't necessarily role models - role models should be the youth players' parents - but they are aspirational heroes. WPS players are among the few professional women athletes in team sports that young girls can see, emulate and work hard to try to achieve similar accomplishments. i believe that is important.

Afterwards i had the chance to speak with Wisconsin soccer coaching legend Jim Launder (BTW, the link to "Jim Launder" includes a video, which is included below, of perhaps the greatest goal ever scored in MLS history - a full volley OT game winner by John Wolyniec at Giants Stadium) and Wisconsin soccer journalists Eric Anderson and Nate Leaf among others, before returning to the Highbury for more EPL action.

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