The night before our last regular season home game I watched The Dark Knight because it happened to be on TV. Similar to when Pink Floyd is on the radio, I can never turn Batman off the TV if it’s on.
There aren’t many movies that can take me away from my cell phone, or my selfie phone as I like to refer to it now, but Batman hits me where it matters – right in the feels.
When I was little, I had a streak of about five years where I was Batman for Halloween. Not Cat Woman. Not Poison Ivy (as if anyone would be her anyway) and certainly not Vicki Vale. (I don’t even count Batgirl, sorry). I was Batman. I was a superhero. And that image as a six-year-old has rarely escaped my mind.
That image is something I’ve taken seriously, but mostly on the field. I mean sometimes I feel pretty good about myself when I can help my cat unhook his claw from the blanket, but realistically, he can get it himself if he really wanted to.
When I think of saving the day, I think of scoring the winning goal or clearing a ball off the goal line (I did it once, it was AWESOME); making a diving save or a big time tackle on a breakaway – or slotting the ball across the goal so that a teammate can easily help you save the day.
It’s a special feeling. To contribute to something bigger than yourself. To see the look on your teammate’s faces and hear the cheers from the crowd, that tell you how much they appreciate what you just did.
When the banner came up of the Thorns as superheroes - all I could think was, holy shit. Then I turned in circles hoping to see my own cape. I realized after a few spins that it wasn’t physically there, but it’s always there in my mind and in my heart.
Then I thought…
Knowing that our fans think that of us, that they believe in us so much as to think we are superhero-like, is one of the best compliments we can get as an athlete. (FYI: The other one is “you’re really pretty”).
The funny thing about our fans, especially the Rose City Riveters, is that they are our Alfred Pennyworths. They make us feel more like superheroes than any goal, save or tackle could. The support that they and the city of Portland have shown us this season is something so special that even I struggle to find the words.
But let me try.
Imagine doing what you love for a living. Then imagine 15,000 people cheering you on every time you land a plane or publish a book. Or whatever it is you love doing.
Then imagine your competitor trying to bring you down. And those same 15,000 people standing behind you saying “no, honey, you need to take a step back, this is our house.” And that happening every single day. And even if you make a mistake on the job, like the best friend that will always tell you “you were too good for Zac Efron anyway”, they will show you unconditional love like you’ve never experienced.
When someone has your back, you truly feel like you can do anything. Your superhero superpower is invincibility. You’re untouchable. Being on a field competing in an arena like professional sports, there’s nothing more powerful.
This superhero feeling was confirmed this morning at the airport.
The woman checking us in recognized us – I’ll assume it’s because we were wearing Portland Thorns gear though, because I wasn’t wearing my headband (Side note: at times I don’t even recognize me without my headband). She told us that we had inspired her granddaughter to play soccer again after previously quitting to run cross country.
I’m sure some of it was from being up so early without having had a coffee, but my blank stare was that of pure flattery.
We might not be the superheroes that save the world. But we sure as hell are trying to be the superheroes that bring home a championship for the fans that have made us who we are and even more so, for the ones that want to be who we are.
So for all the Portland Thorns fans, in Portland and all over the world, thank you for making our regular season so special and so memorable. Many of us have craved that kind of support for a long ass time. It’s my hope that we can build on it, so the young ones can have it even better than we have had.