By Olivia Edinger
I wasn’t always a soccer fan.
Though I played sports growing up, soccer was one of the few that I never tried. The youth sports league in my town was baseball & softball focused. The other side of the school district focused on soccer.
My soccer fandom started in high school because of a boy. The guy I dated through high school was on the soccer team, along with other friends of mine. I went to A LOT of soccer games, both home and away, both school related and club games all over the state.
In the summer leading up to my senior year of high school, the soccer team attended a Crew game, as well as the 2005 MLS All Star Game at Crew Stadium. I tagged along. I still remember my friend’s little brother trying (and failing) to use a vuvuzela. The following year, the relationship that got me into soccer ended, but my love of soccer definitely didn’t. In fact, it grew… kind of a lot.
After high school, I didn’t exactly have the financial means to make it to a lot of Crew games, but I usually tried to make it to one game a season, usually if an out of town college friend came to visit.
In 2008, during the MLS Cup Final, it was finals week and my friends and I were studying at our mentor’s house. What I was actually doing was watching ESPN’s Live Gamecast on my laptop… not actual game footage, just sporadic updates if there was a shot, a card or if a goal was scored. When the game ended, I had a little celebration by myself on the couch where I was sitting. I told my friends. They didn’t care much.
After I graduated in 2010, a facebook conversation about the World Cup with a friend from college led to him inviting me to a Crew game with a group of his friends. I agreed. That “group of friends” consisted of my friend, his best friend and me. The Crew was playing the Chicago Fire and there was a family of Fire fans sitting near us. We were in section 102 (Pre-Nordecke expansion), so it was easy to pick up on the songs coming from the rowdy section. The Fire family’s young son started singing along with a popular Nordecke song about urinating on the Fire and it took several rounds of singing for his parents to realize what was happening. It was a wonderful moment.
Fast forward a bit. That friend from college and I started dating. A pretty huge part of our dating relationship was going to Crew games. He lived in Northeast Ohio, but I lived less than a mile west of Crew Stadium. He would come to town and we’d make the walk on Hudson to go to games. At some point, we’d started buying tickets in Nordecke and were starting to recognize a lot of the same faces from week to week.
In March of 2013, on the night of the home opener, we got married. Yes, I know. We missed the home opener, but MLS schedules really should come out sooner ☺ Also, the entirety of the game was shown on the TV in the bar at our reception. When we returned from our honeymoon, we moved into an apartment in a quiet town in Amish Country and have since bought our first home in that same town. It’s about an hour and 40 minute drive to get to Columbus, but we are season ticket holders and make that drive for many more games than we miss. Over time, even as out of towners, we’ve been welcomed into this crazy family that is Crew fandom. I’ve long been a fan of other sports teams, but I’ve never formed friendships with other fans like the ones that have come from simply loving the Crew together. Homes have been opened to each other. Tears have been shed together. Banners have been painted together. We’ve even travelled all around the country together, all for the love of Crew.
I’m confident to say these friendships would have never happened if not for the Crew. Yes, the Crew is a soccer team, but it’s also so much more than that. It is a family. #SaveTheCrew