Shivering, I touched the weather app on my phone to determine why my face felt like it was going to crack into a million pieces. The number glaring back at me almost brought me to my knees.
It was five degrees on the morning that Sporting KC and Real Salt Lake were going to battle for the 2013 MLS Cup. The teams were expected to play outside and fight for their dreams while I could barely fathom putting one foot in front of the other. Being a former athlete, I understand the fire that keeps you going in tough situations. Being the current recreational exerciser, five was a number I couldn’t comprehend.
It did get warmer (yes!) and amid the energy surrounding the Cup and the phenomenal game that played out in front of thousands – I took one thing from the experience.
5 years ago, the Foundation began the process of starting Soccer for Success, its flagship program that uses soccer to improve the well-being of children in underserved urban areas. Currently, there are thousands of children playing in our program, in weather similar to the professionals, seeking to improve their skills and their health. They are cheered on and encouraged by caring mentors who serve as coaches, day in and day out. The coaches’ desire to see their Soccer for Success kids succeed could easily rival the desires of the thousands of fans at Sporting Park, hoping to see their respective team walk away a champion. MLS Cup was a great reminder that regardless of the level, the love for the game is strong and thriving. The energy I saw in KC was one that I feel in the communities we serve. Soccer unites all, and I’m glad that no matter where I go – whether my face is one smile away from shattering, or my body is one ball away from bruising – I can pinpoint that energy, draw from it and have fun.
Until next time!