Sunday, December 18, 2011

If You Don't Know What WPS Stands For-Go Sit In Time Out

Think back to July 10th, 2011.  Where were you the moment Abby Wambach’s fantabulous head buried a cross in the back of the net behind a stunned Brazilian goalkeeper?  I was sitting in front of my TV weeping like a little child over a lost imaginary friend.  But of course, tears of joy.  This is no shock because I have been a devout fan of women’s soccer since I could say the word soccer.  (My verbal skills weren’t killer so this came a little later in life than you would expect, but you get the picture)  The thing that was incredible to see though was the fans this moment gained for women’s soccer who hadn’t given it a second look before.  The whole country stopped, watched, screamed, cheered and Tweeted their asses off.  Now I have a question for you all… 

Did someone forget to send out the memo to the country that these women play in a professional league here also?

During the Women’s World Cup there was enough women’s soccer spirit to fly the women’s soccer sleigh around the world. (It’s Christmas time…bare with me on the themed analogy)  And the support for them when they came home from Germany continued with TV interviews and people taking a genuine interest.  While our girls were all the way in Germany battling it out, the whole country was behind them.  They could feel the support from thousands of miles away.  So if we can support them from across the pond, why can’t we support them when they’re in our own back yard?

Women's Professional Soccer (which is in fact, WPS...for those of you sitting in time out) saw a very positive increase in ticket sales including a 15,000+ crowd for the first game back in Rochester, NY after the Women’s World Cup.  Yet, the league came inches from folding recently.  I would say “it’s time to put your money where your mouth is” but I hate that expression.  I’m not putting my money anywhere near my mouth.  Do I look like I want to get hepatitis?  But essentially, that’s what we need. (Money…Not hepatitis)  If you say you became a fan  of women's soccer during the World Cup, now is your time to prove it.  I understand the World Cup is a higher level of excitement than any league can offer.  But it doesn’t change the level of talent, skill, determination and poise that they play with.  That will all still be there when you tune into WPS on TV or head to a game.

This past week I was lucky enough to catch a short documentary by Jun Stinson called “The 90th Minute” ( to see the trailer and learn more).  It was a look at the lives of three professional players and what it’s like to play for WPS.  It gives a glimpse into what a true athlete with pure love and admiration for a sport looks like.  Not only was it beautifully done, entertaining and informative but it also brought up the question that all women’s soccer fans are racking their brains trying to figure out; WHY?  Why is this league having such a hard time finding success?  I spoke to Jun after viewing it and thanked her for putting together such a great documentary.  More people need to get involved with out of the box ideas like this to support the league and raise awareness for it.  There are far, far too many people who will still give you a dumbfounded look when you use the acronym, WPS.

So here are two of many thoughts I have on the whole thing…

Let’s be honest; the sports world is no longer separate from Hollywood.  Sports and Hollywood are now combined into the celebrity couple Spollywood.  They haven’t adopted any babies from third world countries yet, but they have taken a whole lot of NBA, NFL and MLB players under their wing.  When I see basketball players at red carpet events I don’t know if they’re promoting a new album that Timbaland is producing, because they play for the Lakers, or because they’re Kim Kardashian’s newest husband.  They are not only athletes, but ‘A list’ celebrities reaching people who don’t even watch the sport they play necessarily.  Hope Solo took a brave leap into this world by partaking in Dancing With The Stars which I hope will act as a gateway drug to more publicity through TV and Hollywood.  Every time one of these women appear on a show (not sports related) that is a huge success in my book.  The talent in the league is undeniable; it’s there.  But now because of the newlywed, Spollywood, the league needs publicity in other media outlets.  WPS is filled with beautiful and funny girls with great personalities.  It’s time that people got to see that side of them so they can relate to them and be drawn in.  Individually they do a great job of marketing themselves.  I just hope to see extra support for them to continue doing it through more media outlets to reach more people.  (Ellen DeGeneres, I am still waiting on a call back from you to get some women's soccer love all up in your show.  I'll assume you just lost my number, it's ok.  No hard feelings.  But me.)

Next, I hope WPS remembers that people over the age of 13 are the ones paying for the tickets and merchandise and therefore need to be marketed to.  We get it, WPS; young girls love women’s soccer.  But so do young boys, adult men, adult women, elderly men, elderly women and dogs of all ages! (Proof: My parents’ dog completed a glorious victory lap after Alex Morgan’s goal against Japan and also watched a Lauren Cheney interview with me.  For research purposes she is a 2 year old female mutt and seems to really be drawn to Cheney and Morgan…and her red ball) It is a professional league, yet through their marketing it looks more like a D2 college league.  I’m not saying to neglect the younger female demographic by any means because they truly are at the heart of the fan base.  These are the girls who dream to someday be a part of this league, so we cannot underestimate their true dedication and love for it.  All I am asking is that it isn’t made out to look like they are the only fans showing up to these games on their way back from a Justin Bieber concert.

If you watched any of the Women’s World Cup this summer and can say that you found it entertaining, give the WPS a chance.  There is no gold medal on the line, it is not an epic competition held once every four years and it will not give you the chance to scream, “Suck it! Go home Brazil!!!” at the TV like a crazy person.  (Was that just me??) But it will give you the same brilliant athletes from our US squad plus many amazing international players as well; all playing at the highest level of the beautiful game.  If you say you supported them in the Women's World Cup you can support them in the Olympics next summer and most importantly; in the WPS.  Buy season tickets, make sure you get Fox Soccer Channel to watch the games and buy all the merchandise that your little soccer heart desires. 

In short, as they say…let’s all get hepatitis!  Put your money where your mouth is.

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Day With Ginny

I have accomplished many great things in my life.  I have……...give me a second.  Ok, got it…  

I have acted in plays and performed in shows.  I have been told I have the best white girl crip walk in my suburban upper middle class hometown.  I have been given prestigious titles such as “Class Clown” and “Night Surfing Champion of The World and Most of The Universe” (that one may be self-proclaimed).

And teachers assumed I would never amount to anything……Suck it.

But none of these “achievements” are as glorious as the one I am aiming for now.  This idea…this flash of light…this breath of fresh air that has swirled into my path has given me new found meaning.  Ok, I may be overplaying this a bit.  Let’s get to it.

I want to spend a day in a forest baking cookies with Ginnifer Goodwin and a group of well behaved magical elves.

I know what you’re thinking.  Trust me, I do.  And I thought the same thing for awhile; how could I possibly find enough activities to span over the entire day!?  Let me share…

First Ginny and I (we’re good chums now at this point so I can call her Ginny) will meet up at the forest’s edge with the elves.  We’ll begin our day at the crack of 11:35 am.  I will name each elf based on their appearance and demeanor then we will be on our merry way.  After a fun walk skip through the woods we will come across a field where Ginny and I decide to have a frolic.  The elves will set up our baking station in the trees while Ginny and I pick daises and prance about the field singing whimsical songs about fairy tales which we will make up on the spot.

Next, once the elves have assembled our baking station we will begin!  We’ll bake all sorts of glorious cookies in fantasy blumpkin shapes. (I’m unsure what ‘fantasy blumpkin shapes’ are, but I really like them and am determined to figure it out)  Once they’re done the fairies and nymphs come out of the trees to dance in the wind because they see Ginny and of course want to be a part of this magical day. 

All of this singing, cooking and eating will obviously tire us.  So we will all take happy naps in the field.  I’ll most likely spoon with the elf I inevitably name Lord Snugglekins. 

After our naps it will be time for pictures!  Ginny and I will take pictures with bunnies and chipmunks and squirrels who all comply of course because of Ginny’s magical powers over all that is cute in the world.  We will take a good mix of posing with the animals and also some action shots.  If you're wondering why I want the variations it's because we need a good mix for the photo album…don’t be silly.  Eventually, the elves will join but they will not…I repeat will not…make this about them.

And alas, when the day is done we will walk skip back through the forest to civilization.  The fairies and nymphs will fly back to the forest after accompanying us on our journey back.  The elves will disperse and go back to their elf families and elf homes which I envision to be a combination of miniature Santa workshops and Smurf mushroom houses.  And I’ll tell Lord Snugglekins I enjoyed our time together but we should just stay friends.

Then it will be time for Ginny and I to part ways.  We’ll make plans to tag each other in all the pictures and look into booking a recording studio for our fairy tale improv songs.  I’ll gush over what a great actress she is and what a fan I really am and thank her for spending the day with me.  She’ll ask for my number and email to keep in touch but then giggle because she knows she can just send a hummingbird or a forest fairy with a message.  Then we live happily ever after knowing we have lived a perfect day amongst magical elves, forest fairies, pretty daisies and fantasy blumkpin cookies.

The End

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dear Ellen - Help Save the WPS!

I think it’s time we stopped playing games, Ellen.  Yes, I’m talking to you Ellen DeGeneres.  It’s time to stop playing hard to get and making us swoon after you.  It was cute at first, but it’s time to acknowledge how badly you want to help out women’s soccer in America.  

I have written various pieces about my quest to work with Ellen DeGeneres and how it is a journey that began years ago.  (see “Dear Ellen: Will You Be My Disco Dance Partner” and “Are You There Ellen DeGeneres? It’s Me, Amy” in previous blog entries) Now it is taking on a new form though.  I am still 110% (eh, maybe 118%) behind my idea to come on as a correspondent for The Ellen Show doing sketches and interviews surrounding women’s soccer but there is a bigger issue at hand now.   There may not even be a professional league left next season.  So there is a large group of fans who do not want to see this league fail doing everything they can do to help it succeed and continue on as a prosperous league.  There is an old expression; the pen is mightier than the sword.  Personally, if I owned a sword and knew how to use it I’d be charging in on a horse, Knight-style demanding a league.  But I do not.  I know how to write…kind of…so that’s what I’ll do.

The Women’s Professional Soccer league (WPS) is in need of a 6th owner for a new team in order for the league to continue running.  Many of us fans are reaching out to a certain celebrity, Ellen DeGeneres to help save the league and become an owner.  I have a list of reasons why Ellen should get involved.

1-      Ellen is the greatest human alive. WPS is the greatest league alive. Done deal.

2-     Ellen showed support for the US Women’s National Team this summer during their run at the World Cup.

3-     Ellen would be an entrepreneurial owner; designing the uniforms with some Ellen flare, choreographing an opening number for the team to enter the field, hiring an English DJ to entertain during halftime AND she could instate an opening monologue into soccer. (Which I suppose I could fill in for her here and there on that one.  Hint, hint.  Wink, wink.  Subtle, subtle)

4-     Ellen would be able to turn a whole new viewing audience onto women’s soccer.  The viewers are out there, but without the proper marketing, exposure and air time they will never be given the opportunity to become true fans.

5-     The world without WPS would be far less bright and would leave great sadness behind.  This would cause Ellen to have to start working overtime in order to bring more laughter and light into people’s lives where there is now a giant gaping black hole of WPS-less existence.

6-     I used Arrested Development as an analogy in my last blog about saving the WPS.  Portia De Rossi, Ellen’s wife, brilliantly acted in Arrested Development and portrayed one of my favorite characters, Lindsay Bluth.  Brilliant yet under rated show / brilliant yet under rated league.  We saw what happened there; Ellen can't let it happen to the WPS too!  Brilliance needs to be rewarded.

7-     The WPS and Ellen are both all about good causes.  The WPS has been a strong supporter of Breast Cancer Awareness through “Project Pink” games and also various other local causes amongst the communities they play in.

8-    Piggybacking off #7…one of the teams, the Western New York Flash, held a dog day where they teamed up with the local ASPCA to find homes for animals and also encouraged dog owners to bring them out to the game.  Ellen is a HUGE advocate for animal rights and an animal lover.  The possibilities are endless in the amount of good Ellen could do through a team.

I could probably make a list to 100 if I had the time.  (Or the attention span)  But you all get the picture.  Ellen DeGeneres and the WPS would be a perfect match and I hope we get to see it happen.

Ellen, if you’re out there: Please consider this. If you need to make a pros and cons list I am more than happy to swing by your pad and speak with you.  We can make a list, have some coffee, dance, me you and Portia can go shopping, maybe play a prank on Taylor Swift…we’ll make a day of it.  After thinking about it you will see what a great opportunity this could be.  This league inspires young girls and shows them that they can succeed and live their dreams.  It inspires adults to stay active and get into shape by seeing such strength and endurance displayed.  It inspires parents to teach their kids to be healthy and active and it gives them role models for their kids to look up to.  This is a league with talent, skill, entertainment, endurance, aggression, grace, poise and it’s filled with athletes who possess all of those things plus a level head on their shoulders who are all smart, kind, and beautiful and they are idols to many.  Please help save this league and give it hope for the future. 

Call me up when you’re ready to sit down and discuss.  I’ll be by the phone in my Ellen wig dancing over a coffee table anxiously waiting. 

Also take a look....
Check out this site for sure. Great organization helping to put the word out there and gives instructions on how you can help!
Another way to help...a petition you MUST sign started by an awesome dedicated fan!
And yet...another way to help! Another petition! SIGN!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Save The WPS

Time for a pop quiz:

1-      Do you love good competition?
2-     Do you enjoy watching a group of people extraordinarily good at what they do?
3-     Do you want to support American athletic leagues?
4-     Do you enjoy breathing oxygen?
5-     Do you respect people dedicating their lives to becoming the best in the world at their profession?
6-     Do you have eyes and ears?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions it is a scientific fact that you should love Women’s Professional Soccer.  Ok, so full disclosure, I guess I added a couple of questions in there that don’t completely have to do with women’s soccer.  But for the most part, this is a fair test.  Because let’s be honest…at a WPS game you get to witness good competition, with extraordinary athletes, in an American league, while breathing oxygen, respecting the athletes on the field for their hard work, and you do all this by watching and listening with your eyes and ears.  See?  It all connects in the end.

Women’s Professional Soccer is unfortunately in a very tough situation right now.  They need to find a 6th team for the league or it could mean the end of WPS.  We have an extremely underrated and under publicized league and it needs to be saved.  I am not a business professor, I am not a CEO of a company (unless you consider my bathtub moonshine business from 2009-2010), I am not a figure of authority or a leader of an athletic league.  I am simply a fan of the game who has been watching and loving this sport and idolizing the women who play it since I can remember.  So to be short; no, I do not have the solution to this problem.  I have a hard enough time coming up with solutions to questions like “Should I wear pants or not while I write today?” and “Red or white wine with lunch?”  So I don’t think I’m equipped to say much on this complicated matter.  And I do not envy the people trying to come up with the solution.  But if they have any questions on wine or the epic pants/no pants question I do hope they reach out to me for some lively conversation.

It boggles my mind how we can have the best league in the entire world in this country and be struggling to find a 6th team.  The domestic talent is there, the international talent is there, the passion from the fans is there.  What is missing?  If I were to ask 10 of my friends who are not die hard soccer fans what the WPS is, most of them probably wouldn’t know it by the abbreviation. If I were to ask them what the MLS is they would know it is Major League Soccer.  That’s what is missing.  Many, many brilliant TV shows have gone off the air after a few seasons because although critics can’t stop raving over a show, it doesn’t get the ratings it needs to stay afloat.  Don’t let the WPS become Arrested Development.  (If you do not know this show I order you to watch it on Netflix now.  Well, as soon as you’re done reading this.)  The WPS is just that; critically acclaimed but not enough viewers…yet.

In men’s soccer when you look at an international level we definitely jumped on the train a little late.  While we were eating hotdogs watching guys run around in circles and swat at a ball at baseball games, the rest of the world was playing soccer.  But when you look at the women’s side, we have an edge.  We have the number one ranked international team in the world, and we have the best professional league for talent in the world as well.  If we throw away the opportunity to continue that legacy here; it would be a sad day.  

Not only do we have American heroes from the Women’s World Cup like Abby Wambach, Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and Lauren Cheney.  But we also have international players like Kelly Smith, Christine Sinclair and many more.  On top of that we have young players who are making moves and proving they are forces to be reckoned with also, like Brittany Bock, Meghan Klingenburg, Christen Press and Casey Noguiera to only name a few out of many.  The talent is there.  There is no disputing that.  But unfortunately it’s not that simple.

So please, Women’s Professional Soccer, put your brilliant little heads together and find a way to make this 6th team happen in the time frame you have been given.  Maybe we can get together a ‘Super Committee’ of sorts, but one that won’t fail us miserably.  We already had one super committee fail us this week, we can’t take another.  How about instead of Super Committee we gather a ‘Marvelous Task Force’?  Yes, I like that.  So I put my trust in you, Marvelous Task Force.  I believe in the MTF (See, I shortened Marvelous Task Force to make it quicker to read and also quicker for me to type so I don’t have to keep typing Marvelous Task Force)  Right, I believe in the MTF and I have faith that they will pull through with a solution. 

This league is a powerful force of athletes who are not only talented and skilled but also smart and excellent role models.  So unless you want your 13 year old to stop trying to become the next Abby Wambach because her dreams were dashed by this league folding and instead focus her attention on becoming the next Snooki; I suggest you start backing the WPS and women’s soccer in this country.

Also take a look....
Check out this site for sure. Great organization helping to put the word out there.  They have exerpts of this blog entry plus a way for anyone to get involved and have their voice heard on this subject.
Another way to help...a petition you MUST sign which was started by an awesome dedicated fan!
And yet....another way to help! Another petition! SIGN!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Beautiful Game of The Beautiful Game - USWNT

If I had the option of reliving November 19th 2011 from the hours of 7pm to 10pm Mountain Standard Time once a day for the next 5 years of my life in exchange for my soul I would gladly make the trade.  This weekend I was one of the lucky 18,482 fans at the US Women’s National Soccer Team game against Sweden in an International Friendly match in Phoenix, AZ.  Let me tell you, it was truly a beautiful game of the beautiful game. 

This was a match I have known about for a couple of months and was unsure if I would be able to attend or not.  But thanks to some amazing followers on Twitter offering different pieces of the puzzle to help get me there; I made it.  I drove my little munchkin two seat convertible from Los Angeles to Phoenix on the day of the game.  It was a lovely drive with the majority of it being on empty freeway with no civilization in site.  This is a good thing for me because I love nothing more than putting my top down on a road trip, blasting the stereo and singing at the top of my tone challenged lungs.  By the time I was in Phoenix my voice was already a little scratchy from a superb medley ranging from Janis Joplin to Journey to Katy Perry to every classic show tune you can imagine.  I got pretty animated during “You Can’t Stop The Beat” dancing in my seat.  Then of course put on my Adele playlist and had a good solid 30 minutes of sing-crying at an obscenely loud volume.

After getting to the stadium I met up with some fellow Twitter fans and grabbed a drink. I needed to settle my giddy-nerves from flaring up which would end up making me look like the insanely excited 6 year old child I am inside.  It really is a gorgeous stadium with one of the most perfect fields I have ever seen.  I had a field seat ticket so I headed down to the field and just stared at the pitch for a little while in a happy soccer coma.  The giddy 6 year old was on the verge of coming out and doing a happy dance, but I maintained my coolness and instead grabbed the beer guy’s attention.

When the game started and that whistle blew, everything was perfect.  The world could do no wrong at that moment.  At least I thought, but then I let the 6 year old out and screeched and jumped in glee, knocking my beer over.  My excitement was even more amplified by the two people next to me, a father and daughter, who appeared to be dead inside and I decided I hated them.  But later in the game a group of 14 year old girls who knew nothing and said everything moved in next door and I decided the dead inside father daughter duo weren't so bad.  Within minutes the ball was right in front of me, at Amy Rodriquez’s feet.  Watching her with the ball at her feet from only about 6 feet away is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.  She is just this brutally strong, compact, speedy little soccer machine.  Every time the ball came that close to me it was incredible just seeing these players right there, doing what they were born to do and doing it so….damn….good.  Sweden took advantage of a ball around the 18 and scored in the 28th minute though.  We had been dominating and controlling the pace, but hey, that’s soccer.  The entire game had this enormous building feeling to it.  It was an inevitable fact that we would score.  Then in the 81st minute Alex Morgan put a rocket on goal which was saved and Tobin Heath was more than happy to collect the rebound and stuff the ball into the back of the net, getting us tied at 1.  After that it built even more and I really thought we had the winner coming, but around the 92nd minute the whistle blew and we would settle for a tie.  But let me tell you, it was not reflective of how we played…we looked GOOD.

Lauren Cheney was on point with her corner kicks, her short range passing, her long switches across field and moving off the ball.  She had a game of perfect precision and skillful sorting of the ball.  She was in full 007 Spy Mode darting around the field disappearing and reappearing everywhere we needed her.  The 6 year old in me had a strong urge to start doing diving spy move somersaults in excitement, but I managed to refrain.  Carli Lloyd was having an excellent game also of connecting plays, crafty touches creating opportunity and contributing every second towards making our team better.  So overall our central midfield was looking brilliant but let’s be honest about the central midfield on Saturday, I will just say- Shannon Boxx, Shannon Boxx, Shannon Boxx.  This woman is unreal.  There is no vocabulary yet created for describing the amount of respect and admiration I have for this legend.  Our other iron woman, Christie Rampone had an impeccable game as always as well.  I think Abby Wambach said it best on Twitter saying Rampone is the “strongest human alive”.  No argument there, no further comment needed, as that says it all.  My favorite, Heather O’Reilly had her usual game of making blazing runs, helping on defense, creating offense, burning past defenders and throughout the game ran roughly 47 miles.  And I didn't have speed gun with me but I believe she peaked on one of her runs around 124mph.  This is just a rough guess, but I think it’s accurate and in no way an exaggeration.  Becky Sauerbrunn was in fine form which let's be honest...she always is.  Every time she did a throw in near me I shook in fear over her guns.  This girl is ripped.  She is a beautiful woman who I think looks like Heather Graham, but only if Heather Graham was an athlete that could tear you apart with one toned arm tied behind her back.  She was out wide on Saturday dominating that left back position and also getting into the attack beautifully. I will say I love her out wide as well, but when she plays in the middle with Rampone you might as well just put a 100 foot high brick wall in the middle of the field.  A brick wall with ripped guns and a 6 pack, that is. Tobin Heath, our goal scorer was looking good too.  Every time she got the ball a new dance routine began for her as she craftily danced and juked over the ball toying with the defense.  I think right before serving a cross one time I actually saw her start to do ‘The Dougie’.  And last but definitely not least I have to say that Alex Morgan is looking fresh.  Her first touch, her runs off the ball, her back to goal work and her rocket shot were all looking phenomenal.  She had a few different balls come in over her head that she collected with one fluid movement of her leg bringing the ball in like she has a magnetic power over it.  I'm convinced she's some kind of soccer specialty magician or immortal soccer nymph.  She's unreal.  She put in some hard work (with very limited minutes, I would say too limited) and was hungry for a goal and was very unlucky to not walk away with at least one.  A good save, some lucky blocks on the way in and a far post that was almost snapped in half by her bullet of a shot in the 78th minute prevented her from scoring though.  Goal scored or not; Alex Morgan is on the prowl and is looking incredible. 

Speaking of that poor goal post that was rocked by Morgan’s shot; I have a beef with the frame of the goal after Saturday.  We hit both posts and the cross bar.  Boxx’s crossbar shot looked like the dented it, it was hit so hard.  It's probably in need of cosmetic surgery it was rocked so forcefully by Boxx.  And then Abby hit the other post on a ball that defied the laws of physics by not going in the goal.  Just get out of the way!! Trust me goal frame, you don’t want all that pain.  Just get out of the way and let these goals in!  Regardless, the whole team showed everyone in that stadium once again why they are the number one ranked team in the world.  Every one of them played beautifully this weekend and we are looking confident and ready for Olympic qualifiers.  Seriously, like I have said before: any teams who have to face us in London 2012, I feel sorry for how badly you will be owned by Abby Wambach's storm of fury and the whole USWNT. 

So thank you Fox Soccer and ESPN for being so supportive and airing the game on televis…oh wait.  Never mind.  I forgot…neither of you aired it.  Someone must have forgotten to give you the memo that the number one ranked women’s soccer team in the world (which just so happens to be the USA, you know…the country we live in) was playing a game in front of what was predicted to be a record breaking crowd against a rival team who beat us in the World Cup this summer promising for a high energy and highly entertaining game with guarenteed viewers eager to watch from home.  Yeah, you must have lost the memo.  Well, let’s thank some people who actually deserve a thank you…

Thank you who actually did pull off a webcast of the game for fans across the country.  Thank you Adele for a cleansing sing a long / hysterical crying session.  Thank you Twitter followers who helped get me (and my giddy inner 6 year old) to the game and made it a very enjoyable experience.  Thank you ridiculous road signs you only find in the middle of nowhere which made me giggle and also made me slightly nervous I was entering a horror movie plot line. (ex: State Prison Next Exit. Do Not Pick Up Hitch Hikers) Thank you highway patrol for making this my first ever road trip with no speeding tickets.  But mostly, thank you to the US Women’s National Team, as always, for coming out and playing like true champions. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Story of Faith Single

I will now tell you the tale of Faith Single.  Faith was a young girl with great ambition.  Everyone knew her as a strong, independent, athletic child with big dreams.  The summer when she was 10 years old she went all the way to the World Hopscotch Cup.  But sadly, she lost to a small Japanese girl who had the wind on her side that fateful day and brought the gold medal back to her nation which needed some good news.  This was a hard loss for Faith to accept, but being the driven young girl that she was she moved on and continued her training.  Then one day she received a call from an after school program saying they wanted her to come be a part of it. She had gone through a pretty horrific hip injury and surgery somewhat recently that threatened her whole hopscotch career and she was ranked the #1 hopscotcher in the whole world. So while still recovering from the injury she wasn’t sure if she should engage in this after school program.  Although the World Hopscotch Cup wouldn’t come around again for another 4 years, she had a chance at the Hopscotch Olympics the next summer. 

In the end she realized by attending this program she may be able to inform and educate more children on hopscotch and get them to become fans of the sport.  The program was called “Dancing With The 6th Graders”.  It was sponsored by a local company, A-B-C (All Biased Company).  They were overly accepting to some kids in the program, but very harsh to others, so I suppose it was a fitting name.  It was a program that encouraged younger kids who had no extracurricular activities to keep them occupied.  It gave them a chance to pick their careers…I mean school standing…back up and on track.  Faith knew she didn’t need help with any of that because she was very driven, goal oriented, and at the top of her hopscotch career.  But knew it would be a great challenge for her, since a fear of hers was dancing with the older kids.

Faith still had hopscotch duties to fulfill so she knew it would be a hectic schedule, but she was ready.  If anyone could do it…Faith could.  She began training with the 6th grader paired up with her, a foreign exchange student named Max Chsmerszdaodsahzmdwoskey. Max and Faith looked perfect together, it was a match made in heaven.  But they butted heads quite often.  They were both very stubborn and competitive.  It was in fact their greatest strength and weakness as a team.  Her practice schedule was hectic and she was doing everything she could to keep up with school work, hopscotch training, DWT6G, and also making personal appearances on local sports shows for her hopscotch career. 

I won’t go into details on every other couple but they included Vicki Rake, who had experience on stage in the town’s production of Hairbrush; a musical based in the 60’s about a young girl who didn’t fit in and she had also appeared on a local children’s day time talk show speaking with at risk 7 year olds.  Then there was Sob Parnashian, a boy who’s actual name was Rob but every nicknamed him Sob because he was always crying about his 3 older sisters getting everything. (Also because he was a son of a bitch) But the girls sure did swoon over him because of a certain physical asset that ran in his family.  There was also a flamboyant young fellow named Larson who made all the costumes for everyone, a happy-go-lucky young child named Shaz who was always singing Sonny and Cher songs, and a tall awkward boy who played basketball but everyone knew he was crazy after he changed his name to Betta Universe Olive Branch.  Then there was RJ, a very brave boy who was hurt while fighting off bad guys and bullies from the playground and everyone loved and respected him.  It was a fun group of children who all seemed very excited to be there.  None of the other kids other than Faith had much of anything going on outside of school.  So they had plenty of time to rehearse for the program while Faith worked diligently to balance her hectic schedule.  At times she was ridiculed for not practicing enough for DWT6G which was false.  To an athlete, like Faith, this was hard to hear because she knew how hard she was training.

The teachers who would be running the program were all quite different.  One was an elderly British teacher, Ben, who didn’t condone any type of modern dancing and absolutely hated everything and everyone.  Then there was an Italian man, Juno (not to be confused with the pregnant Ellen Page character, although the way his moods changed, he may have been pregnant), who was very animated in his critiques and slightly creepy about it. Last was Berry Ann Inababababa, who seemed to despise strong girls with a good head on their shoulders.  There was something about a strong beautiful young girl that just made her sick.

Throughout the program it became very apparent that the teachers wanted Faith gone.  If the judges didn’t like you, the rest of the kids on the playground would determine if you got to stick around for the next week.  Luckily, Faith was extremely popular.  Her fans called themselves "Fingles", a fun play on her name.  The Fingles were 200% behind Faith and vowed to help her because they all admired her so very much.  But the program was breaking her spirit.  Faith was proud and very competitive so when she received such harsh and unprovoked mean criticism that other kids weren’t receiving it was hard for her. Also, A-B-C never gave them much time to shine or highlight their big, fun moments together as a pair.  Since they were sponsoring the program it was up to them to help the children network themselves for playground votes.  But they made it an uphill battle from day 1 for young Faith.  She and her partner Max were both very outspoken too so they found themselves in detention quite a bit from voicing their opinions to the teachers.  But this made their fans like them even more!  It was refreshing for the other kids to see someone standing up for themselves and not just playing the safe, PR friendly, brown nosing game of reality competition sho...I mean...playground politics.

One day Faith’s hip injury starting acting up.  She knew she had to power through so barely spoke of it but did need to seek some medical attention.  That same day RJ got a boo boo.  The teachers were very concerned for RJ’s boo boo.  While there was not one mention of Faith’s hip which was literally being held together with staples and anchors from her surgery, they seemed overly concerned with RJ’s boo boo.  RJ wanted to continue on, he didn’t want to be coddled or told he could not continue.  After all, he was a strong boy who was a hero to many.  But the teachers insisted on coddling him like a newborn baby.  Later, Faith had two great dances but the teachers were determined to stop her that day.  If she made it past that day it meant she was in the final 3.  They were irritated by this strong, independent, athletic and beautiful young girl.  They weren’t used to dealing with children who stood up for themselves and they wanted her gone. So they gave her some very harsh criticisms and made it very clear to the kids on the playground they shouldn’t be voting for her.

Alas, the teachers got their way.  Faith was banished from DWT6G.  This made some of the Fingles very upset, but they knew it was for the best.  This program was breaking her down and she did not deserve the unwarranted and at times offensive comments from the teachers.  She went out there, faced her fears and proved a lot to herself, to her fans and to her critics.  Faith inspired many people, giving them hope, lots of hope…tons of hope. And also showed that athletic girls can be beautiful and graceful and rock a ball gown like it’s no one’s business.  Her fans were also excited, knowing that her leaving DWT6G meant she would be able to focus all of her time now on the 2012 Hopscotch Olympics.  It was time for Faith to go back to doing what she was born to do.  She inspired, entertained, and captivated the town during her time on the program and it was a journey she will never forget I am sure. 

The 2012 Hopscotch Olympics should prove to be an epic event.  Faith Single is going there with a mission, a mission to bring the gold medal back to America where it belongs, just like she did in 2008.  Faith: Thank you for your courage, strength and ability to be an amazing role model to not just young girls, but people everywhere.  You are a beautiful girl with more talent, charisma and poise than most people could ever dream of and you carry yourself with an air of confidence and pride that is admirable.

In short; you’re a beautiful independent individual riding Solo.  Thanks for giving us Hope.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Phoenix or Bust - USWNT Game

There are few things in life that I can honestly say make me giddy to an embarrassing extent; puppies yawning, sleeping or jumping on top of one another in a giant puppy pile and also anything to do with the US Women’s National Soccer team.  My giddy level has been slowly rising as we near November 19th where I will be in Phoenix, AZ watching them play.  I may or may not have tried auctioning off my kidney to fund myself getting to the game.  I also may or may not have found a buyer who also offered to buy me a beer at the game.  I have two kidneys, there is only one game coming up though.  So I say, I may or may not have made a great call on that one.  See, don't worry mom, I'm making good decisions out here in LA.

I have only been lucky enough to see them play live twice before.  The first time, I was around 13 years old and they were playing a game at the brand new Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, NY that me and my mom went to.  I will never forget seeing Mia Hamm.  She was injured at one point in the game and had to go off the field and be looked at.  I was sitting right next to where she walked off literally about 2 feet away from her.  So what did I do?  I sat there, dumbfounded, staring at her, mouth wide open catching flies, holding my camera clenched in my hands.  I was paralyzed by her North Carolina / USWNT powers shining down on me.  My mom asked why I didn’t take a picture and that is when I snapped back to reality and realized my camera was sitting in my useless hands.  Nice work, 13 year old Amy.  The next time I got to see them I was 22 and my friend Dawn and I drove out to Rochester, NY for it.  There were some children next to us who Dawn agreed to sit next to knowing she did not want us getting kicked out for me spilling a beer on a kid because he was annoying me.  Thanks Dawn, because that was one game we would not have wanted to miss.  It was the game when Abby Wambach scored her 100th goal.  The whole place erupted when she put that ball in the back of the net off of a Lauren Cheney assist.  I did my best to not look like a drunken fool and instead ended up looking like a drunken 13 year old about to meet Justin Bieber.  It was in fact one of my greatest giddy moments.

After the World Cup this summer I am still on a USWNT high.  I have finally started writing about them, which only makes sense.  The only two things I can honestly say I love and will never have commitment issues with are comedy and soccer.  I have been playing / loving soccer since I was 4 years old.  I have been performing / writing comedy since I discovered I say 97% of words dripping with sarcasm and feel ill when I do not.  (Around 14 years old)  So why has it taken me so long to combine the two?  A lot of the current players on the team agree that this group is a special group of girls. Maybe it took this special group of players to make my ass wake up and start writing about them.

Here’s what I am looking forward to at the game:
Alex Morgan: Darting around the field creating mayhem for Sweden’s back line and lighting up the entire stadium with a monumental goal followed by lighting up the stadium with that big beautiful smile and the fist pump to end all fist pumps.

Heather O’Reilly: Taking on a Swedish defender with that HAO game face letting us all know that domination is about to occur and burn past them with ease, taking the ball to the end line and serving in a beautiful cross……

Abby Wambach: …that Abby Wambach gets her National Asset of a head on and buries it in the back of the net.  (Hopefully followed by an Amy Maestri original choreographed victory dance.)

Lauren Cheney: I will be bringing some special spy binoculars to find her no matter where she is on the pitch.  As she circulates around as one of our most dangerous assets, I will find her.  Sweden of course, won't.  Until she puts the ball in the back of the net that is.
Hope Solo: I am simply excited to see Hope Solo be BOSS as always and put a brick wall in front of her goal.  Done and done.

Ali Krieger: I will be bringing my darkest sunglasses because I do not want to be blinded by her whitest of white teeth when she smiles into the crowd after a game where she undoubtedly will not allow anyone behind her as usual.

Christie Rampone: This woman is a legend.  She’s some sort of never quitting, never giving up, soccer robot.  Getting to see her play live again is reason enough to go.

Becky Sauerbrunn: I’m excited to see her play any day, any time because I know she is the future for our defensive sanity.  When the sad day comes that the legend, Rampone, retires; Sauerbrunn will be our powerful, steady force protecting Hope Solo and our net at all costs.

Amy Rodriquez:  I’ll be excited to watch her spastically speedy little legs running circles around Sweden.  You know when a cartoon runs and their legs move too fast to see them clearly?  Yeah, that’s A-Rod.

Megan Rapinoe: I NEED TO SEE THE HAIR IN PERSON.  (And also some beautiful crosses)

Carli Lloyd:  As someone who played central midfield their whole life, I need to see the best we’ve ever had in that position; plain and simple.  I need to see her connecting plays, controlling the game, and creating opportunities like she does so damn well.

Shannon Boxx:  Another legend of the pitch, making the trip worth it to see one of US Women’s Soccer’s all time finest.  A central midfielder who helps makes us the best in the world.

Tobin Heath: I’m crazy excited about her future.  Heath’s magical moves and dancing around the ball is just plain fun to watch.  She’s our Magical Prancing Dancing Playmaker.

Heather Mitts: The girl has a permanent smile on her face, I love it.  It makes it even more entertaining when you see her go in to take out an oncoming attacker and then pop up from a technically sound and perfectly aggressive tackle with her big smile still intact.

Kelley O’Hara: She is my favorite hardworking, speedy, crafty little leprechaun.  I’m convinced she comes from a special breed of soccer specific leprechauns.  And see the connection?  Pot of gold…gold medal?  Yeah, this little leprechaun wants gold and she is going to help us get it next summer.

I could go on and on but these are some of the highlights I am looking forward to for sure.  Seeing these players and the whole rest of the phenomenal crew will be a special day.  I also need to shout out Brittany Bock for her call up to camp in Phoenix.  She is a hard working, smart, physically demanding, intensely good midfielder.  In a piece I wrote about WNY Flash winning the WPS Championship I mention her heavily because of her stellar play that day.  Just as Kelley O’Hara is my favorite little soccer leprechaun, Bock is my favorite Fighting Irish Ninja. (I have no idea if she is actually Irish, but she went to Notre Dame, so she basically is)  Congratulations Ninja!

Ok, before I end up writing something about every female soccer player who ever existed I need to call it quits.  I will be bringing copies of all my pieces I have written about these insanely talented athletes hoping I can get them in their hands.  I want nothing more than for them to see these articles.  And I mean, if they wanted to help with my idea to get me on Ellen DeGeneres as a correspondent for WPS and USWNT doing sketches and interviews...I wouldn't HATE that either...

Either way...Phoenix, get ready; my giddy level will be at an all time high.  I'm ready to watch USWNT dominateWatch out.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Serious Ponderings From a Child of the 90s

I feel there are so many unanswered questions circulating in the universe that deserve to finally be put to rest.  I for one stay up at night pondering such topics unable to sleep sometimes.  Some are not mysteries, but debates that will never definitively be settled  either. But I feel talking about them may someday lead to answers.

Mystery #1: Where did Judy go?
Yes, you are correct...I am speaking of the younger sister on Family Matters who suddenly disappeared.  We all remember Eddie, we all remember Laura, but what happened to younger sister, Judy?  We all remember the hard hitting serious episodes of Laura getting hooked on 'pep pills' to fit in with the cheerleaders and when Eddie was beat up by the Dragons gang.  But where was Judy's after school special episode?  That's right, we never got to see one before she up and vanished.  The only theory I can come up with on this one is that there is some sort of vault where forgotten characters go to never be seen again.  Let's all just hope Judy, Minkus from Boy Meets World and each one of the Becky's from Roseanne (every other week) are all safe and happy together in the Forgotten Characters Vault.

Debate #1: JTT or Zachary Ty Bryan?
A question as old as time...who was cuter?  Johnathan Taylor Thomas or Zachary Ty Bryan?  They played brothers on Home Improvement which made it all the more juicy.  Brother vs brother.  Who would win? The cute little shaggy haired one with a funny personality or the older, blonde athletic one with a mullet that made girls near and far quiver.  As they got older on the show it just kept getting harder and harder to decide.  As they got hotter, the younger one got more and more odd looking, emphasizing the beautiful features these two had to offer.  I myself was torn for quite awhile before officially going "Team Zachary".  I realize putting this bold statement out there could affect me in the public eye, but I have to be honest.  But I do believe there will never be a clear cut verdict in this debate amongst the masses.

Mystery #2: What in the hell is 'Mmmbop' about?
From the chorus which is nothing but noises and sounds, to the verses which are not only confusing but also slightly depressing to the ending where they just keep asking questions...none of it seems to make sense.  The first verse basically says you will see a lot of people but only one or two will stick around and then you're going to have lots of pain, lose all your hair and they are unsure who will still care about you at that point.  Then they make melodic gibberish for a little while and then they become metaphorical with a flower reference before more harmonious gibberish.  As a child listening to Casey Kasem's Top 40 on a Saturday morning I would sit with fingers crossed praying for this song to be #1.  It had brainwashed me with its happy go lucky feel but it has also left me wondering for over a decade...what is the secret they speak of in the song?  What is the true meaning of the song and the secret?  The line goes, "It's a secret no one knows." And I believe it remains true to this day.  Well done Hanson, well done.

Debate #2: Britney or Christina?
I'm sorry Christina, I don't even really consider this one a debate.  Even though Britney went bat shit crazy after awhile, she wins this one for me.  I can still do 93% of the dance moves to classic jams such as Baby One More Time, Oops I Did It Again, Crazy, and Sometimes. I even scouted a location to do a re-creation of the Sometimes dance sequence on a pier somewhere.  Christina, as much as I loved Genie in a Bottle and those bright orange pants you wore in that video, I'm sorry, but Britney comes first. I feel this one needs no further discussion.  If you disagree then I guess that means I will not be sharing my Capri Sun with you at lunch tomorrow and you can forget about being in my Sometimes redo music video.  So talk to the hand.

There are so many more unanswered questions out there that I don't have the time to go into right now. But briefly I'll leave you with a few more to ponder: Where was that music coming from every time Sam climbed in Clarissa's window? How exactly did Urkel's port-a-potty machine turn him into a guy WITHOUT glasses? Jessie Spano: The drug moments, where did it all go wrong? Who was responsible for the creepy idea of Uncle Jesse singing the Beach Boys classic "Forever" to his naked twin babies in a music video? In Sister Act 2 was it Frank K because his last name began with a K or was it Frankay? How does Homeward Bound get every single solitary person who watches it, to cry?  Who was appointed to research Lori Beth Denburg’s Vital Information, and how were they so stinking smart? Some of these may never be answered and we will have to live with that. So for now, I put these topics to rest although I do intend to continue my research. I will file this research into my Lisa Frank trapper keeper and ponder these mysteries while sipping on a blue kool aid and feeling the cool, calming snap of a snap bracelet against my wrist.  Until next time, thanks for reading; you’re all that and a bag of chips.