The Thorns inaugural season was something of a fairy tale come true: a new team in a new league spurred on by a level of support never before seen in women’s soccer.
The style of play was not great, but our Thorns pulled themselves together and, when push came to shove, won a championship and raised a trophy.
This is the dream of every young athlete, male or female.
For female athletes, it often means working part-time jobs and playing team sports as a hobby as professional opportunities in sport tend to be not in team sports, but as individuals. Golf and tennis are prime examples.
Women’s soccer has struggled. The teams play in less-than-stellar facilities to sparse (and often silent) crowds. With the exception of a few, they’re paid a pittance and many hold down second jobs when they’re not training and traveling with their teams. It isn’t easy, it isn’t pretty, but they play for the love of the game.
They found it impossible, for the Thorns held fast together.
This is where the fairy tale ending happens. This is where women’s soccer is elevated to the point where it sees support as strong as support for men’s soccer.
Last night’s tifo, a story book opening across sections of the Thorns most raucous supporters, came from the story of Little Briar-Rose.
She was her parents’ pride and joy and they invited Wise Women from throughout the kingdom to attend her birthday. Each conveyed on her magical gifts to enrich her life, save one:
When eleven of them had made their promises, suddenly the thirteenth came in. She wished to avenge herself for not having been invited, and without greeting, or even looking at anyone, she cried with a loud voice, “The King’s daughter shall in her fifteenth year prick herself with a spindle, and fall down dead.” And, without saying a word more, she turned round and left the room.
They were all shocked, but the twelfth, whose good wish still remained unspoken, came forward, and as she could not undo the evil sentence, but only soften it, she said, “It shall not be death, but a deep sleep of a hundred years, into which the princess shall fall.”
Eleven Wise Women. And the twelfth stepped forward to save her. I could write a treatise about how supporters (I hate to make a Twelfth Man reference here, but there you go) will be the ones who will save women’s soccer, but it’s been pretty well covered over the last couple weeks.
When Briar-Rose falls into her deep sleep, her entire kingdom does as well and around her castle grows an enormous hedge of thorns to protect her as she sleeps.
In the tifo, the thorns were shown wrapped around the NWSL Championship trophy, protecting it from those who would wish to take it from us.
The league will be more difficult this year. New players, an expansion team, new coaches for a couple teams. The play will be better, the competition stronger. Holding onto that trophy for a second year will be a challenge.
But the Thorns will hold fast together.