The City of St. Louis has been my home for the 19+ years that I have been on this beautiful rock. From birth my parents raised me as a St. Louis Blues fan.
I've never really had the chance to sit down and discover a love and passion for baseball, yet I can't help but get caught up in Cards fever every October.
And of course I don't think anyone from St. Louis will ever forget the 1999-2000 St. Louis Rams and the joy they brought to this city.
Now allow me to explain what any of this has to do with the WPS and more so, the Chicago Red Stars.
As a child and student of St. Louis sports teams, I was taught to hate and despise all teams from the Windy City. It really was never personal though, just simple fact. We're from St. Louis. You're from Chicago. We win. You lose. We celebrate Championships. You cry about curses.
If you live in or around St. Louis or...that city up North, you know exactly what the rivalries of Blues v. Blackhawks and Cards v. Cubs mean to each city and its fans.
On that rare occasion that the Cubs come into town and beat the Cardinals or the Hawks defeat the Blues at the Scottrade Center, the city is a little different the day after.
The sun isn't as bright, traffic is backed up more than usual, rain is in the forecast, your boss isn't a ray of sunshine (I guess that's not really different, but work with me here), your lunch is cold, the music on the radio sucks.
The day after a Chicago team beats a St. Louis team the world seems unbalanced, like somehow the Earth is out of orbit. Luckily, as we from St. Louis know, Chicago rarely beats St. Louis in anything!
So imagine my surprise when I arrived at Ralph Korte Stadium on April 4th for the St. Louis Athletica inaugural match and I see a sign reserving a section for Chicago Red Stars fans. Who the hell do they think they are invading St. Louis (or Edwardsville) turf to crash our inaugural match?
They brought a group of at least 100, all decked out in Red Stars gear with noise makers and flags. But most importantly they had enthusiasm. Enthusiasm that I will not even attempt to describe because my words will not do it justice.
The Red Stars defeated Athletica 1-0 that night. It was the first match for the first ever Women's Pro Sports team in St. Louis. We sold the place out, but the 100 or so from Chicago put us to shame. They came to our turf and made it their own. Both the Red Stars and their legion of fans caught my attention that April evening and they've yet to lose it.
I'm not sure what it is about them. Maybe it's because they seem to be the most well organized team of this brand new league. Maybe it's because they put their fans above anything and everything else. Maybe it's because their fans put the team above anything and everything else. Maybe it's the accessibility of everyone in the organization and on the team.
Maybe its the style and charisma of Megan Rapinoe. Maybe it's the passion of coach Emma Hayes, Maybe it's the terrifying presence of Carli Lloyd. Maybe it's the unbeatable wall that is Caroline Jönsson. Maybe it's that Natalie Spilger can knock around with the best in the world & still make the pitch a little greener at the end of the day. Maybe it's Karen Carney, or Cristiane, or Frida Östberg, or Lindsay Tarpley, or Ella Masar, (wish you a speedy recovery) or Nikki Krzysik, or Jill Oakes.
I don't know what it is, but it goes against every fiber of my being to like and cheer for the Chicago Red Stars. However, every week I seem to fall more in love with this team.
They have been going through tough times lately. Win-less since April, second to last in the league (standings are close though), and the injury to Masar.
Despite all this bad news, I have high hopes for my friends/enemies from the Windy City.
The Red Stars havs more passion and love for the game than any other team in this league. The same can be said for their fans over at Chicago Local 134.
It is because of teams like the Red Stars and their fans that this league just might succeed.
I would like to thank fellow Twitter(er)? David for inspiring me with the blog he wrote on his Red Stars Envy. Please take a moment and read his story. David is, in my expert (at least in my mind) opinion one of the best and most knowledgeable WPS fans out there..plus he hates thundersticks too!! If you read this David, please contact me & I will let you know where to send my check. :p Anyway, if you're on Twitter follow David at @dhkeller.
Photo Property of Women's Professional Soccer and ISI Photos
I would like to thank @BleacherReport on Twitter for their quick response when I was having problems posting this.