Saturday night found me in the stands of the Rose Bowl Stadium, cheering on the Women’s National Soccer team in their game against the Irish squad. It was an interesting experience for me, given that I’m a dual citizen of both countries, but in reality there was never a question of who I was going to be cheering on: the Americans.
We started with tailgating three hours before the game started. I was picturing us standing around the car in the hot sun, drinking out of plastic cups and playing loud music: fun, but probably not the most comfortable. What we ended up doing was actually much more fun. We were table to park on grass and the group of us (eight at this point, nine by the start of the game) all hung out, drinking and playing games and eating snacks and catching up. There were so many young girls in soccer jerseys, and it made me so happy. I get emotional when I think about the ways in which watching this team fight their way to a first place World Cup finish and then celebrate afterwards has impacted me. It’s showed me to be tough, to work hard, to go after what I want without hesitation. And it’s showed me that I deserve to celebrate my accomplishments, to have fun, and to go a little wild. Watching them be unabashedly themselves in all their unique ways has been one of my favorite parts of this summer, and I can’t wait to continue to do so in the years to come.
They won the game 3-0, with all the goals scored in the first half. I got to see my favorite player, Kelley O’Hara, play half the match, and obviously all the other players too. One of the cool things is that because this was a friendly match, the team was allowed twice as many substitutes as normal. This was awesome because it meant we got to see a lot more players play! There was a surreal moment where it hit me that these were the players I’d spent so many hours watching on television, and now they were right in front of me. I had a really, really wonderful time, and I cannot wait to see them again one day.