11 Things You Know All Too Well If You Played Co-ed Soccer

11 Things You Know All Too Well If You Played Co-ed Soccer

"Way to play like a boy out there" is easily the worst compliment to get coming off the field.

I'd like to say that I was one of the few lucky ones who got to play co-ed. Co-ed soccer was amazing, and I loved every minute of it. I'd give anything to go back out on that field again, just one more time. I learned a lot during my time, and some things were good and others were not. Win or lose, my experience was one-in-a-million and easily my favorite high school sport.

1. Playing an all boys teams is the most fun.

Those guys just assume they can run you over, but boy did they have something coming for them. I may only be 5 feet 6 inches, but don't think you intimidate me, boys. Half the time I was bigger than the majority of the guys on the field or the ones I had to guard. It never scared me. Bigger girls in basketball have knocked me to the ground. Just because you don't have a b*tch braid and boobs doesn't make you're any more scary to me.

2. When you run over one of the guys and take the ball away.

It definitely deflates the ego a little when you show them that you can play at the same level as they play.

3. That one guy on the opposite team that wants to prove he’s a douche and a woman hater.

We get it, you’re the starting forward. Sorry that our defense isn’t afraid of you. Your flow isn't impressive, and you've missed more shots than you've taken tonight.

4. The boys on your team know not to underestimate all the girls on your team.

Thanks for all your support, boys. We had a team of basically half boys, half girls. In due time, the boys knew that girls were better in some places on the field. In other places, a guy fit the position better. Regardless of gender, we were all teammates.

5. Going back to all girls sports is really weird because you don’t know how to function without your guy friends.

Where’d they go? Why are there no boys on the field? Why do girls always have to have long nails and even longer hair?

6. The determination.

If playing sports wasn’t enough of a motivation, showing your sexist coach that you can “hang with the boys” is more than enough satisfaction. Don't try and knock us down. "Wow, way to play like a boy out there!" was not the compliment I was looking for as I came off the field playing the entire half. There were so many other ways you could've worded that, sir.

7. Getting hurt and walking it off.

Oh, how you wish you could just rage, but no. Keep it together, girl. Walk it off, and toughen up, just like any practical girl would do.

8. The gross guys that try to flirt with you while playing the game.

What?!? Yes, this happens. Yes, it is not cool. I am dripping sweat with my headband half off my head, stop trying to make a move you sleaze. Uncomfortable would be the nice way to put it.

9. People questioning why you, a girl, have soccer in the fall.

Because I’m a badass, that’s why. Well, really, it is due to my school's small size and inability to field an entire soccer team for both genders, so we merge. I was never a fan of volleyball season anyway.

10. The guy that somehow always “accidentally” pushes off your boobs/ass.

If a red card wasn’t on the line you would be so done for, bud. LIKE DUDE, NO.

11. Loving every single minute of being a part of an amazing team.

Not many people get the chance to play co-ed, but it is a great opportunity! I can't imagine playing soccer without playing against/with guys. It was an amazing time, something I will always remember, even if we weren't the greatest team in the league.

Cover Image Credit: Mackenzie Boivin

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Adrian Heath Deserved Better From Orlando City

Supporting is about the passion win, lose, or draw. So was Heath.

For those that may not know, I am a die-hard Orlando City supporter. My love for the team started as a way to express and celebrate the city I love. Through my time supporting the club, I've met hundreds of amazing people just like me who are as crazy about the team and the city as I am. People from all different walks of life, with different backgrounds, coming together for one common goal: to go hard in the terraces for 90 minutes.

What also comes with all those different voices in one place is differing opinions. About everything from the team to current events. People think "Player A" is great, others think he's slow and lazy. People think the coach is helping us and we should be patient, others are calling for his head after the season. Republicans, Democrats, and everything in between. This leads to some very....lively...conversations at times.

But one thing I feel we can all agree on is this; it's all about passion. If a player brings passion to the pitch and shows that he's willing to leave it all out there each game, he'll find no better friends than the supporters on the wall. Adversely, if a player doesn't show that passion to the supporters, or does something incredibly self-centered that would spurn the club (like pretending you don't know what a "team option" is and running off to Turkey), we would not respond very kindly. It all comes down to passion. And there was one person who worked for the club that personified passion better than any one.

10 years ago this next month, Adrian Heath was brought on as manager of the Austin Aztecs after meeting with owner Phil Rawlins over a pint in a pub back home in England. In 2010, Heath and Rawlins relocated the team to Orlando joining the USL pro league. They wanted and believed that Orlando could be the great United States soccer city. They saw the passion that the city was brimming with, and felt it could be channeled into soccer.

While in USL, Orlando City won two championships, and grew a small but powerful supporter base. Heath was personable and passionate, always taking the time to talk to folks after games, and always lively on the sidelines. In 2015, Orlando City was granted a expansion bid to join the MLS, a huge accomplishment for the club. The team and supporters was proud that the club was "built, not bought", meaning the the club had history and moved up the ranks of professional soccer in the United States unlike clubs like NYCFC and Atlanta United, who were created solely for MLS and had no history. And are the worst.

Unfortunately, things didn't go great for Heath. He took part in some questionable personnel choices, with money being spent on players who ultimately never contributed anything of substance to the club. The club narrowly missed the playoffs in its first year and started their second season in worst shape. Heath made some questionable decisions in-game as well, often not subbing players on in games that the club was losing until it was too late. These and other issues led to Heaths's abrupt dismissal in July of 2016.

Now, people can argue all day about whether the dismissal was deserved. I think to me personally, it was something I was surprised about, but not terribly shocked. What did shock me though, how TERRIBLY the club handled the dismissal of someone who was so critical to getting them success early and had the vision with Phil Rawlins to bring the team to Orlando. He was a face in the community, doing a radio show live downtown once a week. For him to be fired, on a random Wednesday evening with no press conference, or tributes, or fanfare of any kind was simply not right.

Again, being a supporter is about passion. It's about giving everything you got every time you step in that stadium. And win, lose or draw, Adrian Heath gave you that. It wasn't always pretty. But when it was, it was beautiful. And honestly, when it didn't work it could still be great. Any supporter worth their weight in Fireball can recall the game in 2015 against the Red Bulls where Heath was tossed from the game for arguing with the officials. One of my favorite Orlando City memories was Heath walking towards the tunnel, pumping his fists at the supporters urging us to keep fighting. Or when he took the stage in 2015 when the MLS announced that Orlando City had won the expansion bid. Or another personal favorite, when Heath "accidentally" called NYCFC "Man City" in a press conference.

He was passionate, wore his heart on his sleeve. I know that people tend to romanticize players when they leave the club. Even if they really didn't contribute anything. When Rafael Ramos recently was traded to the Chicago Fire, it marked the end of an era for the club, as the last player signed during the USL days was gone (unless you count Dom Dwyer, who came back during our MLS run). It wasn't because Ramos was a great player for us recently, injuries and short-tempered kept that from happening. It was because of other reasons. For some, it was a reminder that a time where the club felt like a friend and not a big corporate juggernaut was long gone. For others, it was the last fleeting glimpse of a time where Orlando City and brought home hardware to match our passion in the terraces.

And that's why I feel that when Heath returns to Orlando City Stadium when the team he now manages, Minnesota FC, plays our Lions, he should get a hero's welcome. Not because he was fired for the wrong reasons. But because no one represented the supporter better. No one understood the passion better. I would rather be on The Wall with my brothers and sisters singing and jumping as my team lost than sitting in a seat quietly watching a team dominate.

Orlando is a city of expression. It's a city of passion. No matter the cost. Adrian Heath knew that, and that's why he believed in it so much. We owe him for that.

Cover Image Credit: Stevo89

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Why you should Support MLS Soccer

The professional soccer league in America has improved a lot since its inception

There is an unfortunate misconception in the soccer world that Major League Soccer is inferior to the rest of world soccer. I have had many conversations with many soccer fans that go like this:

"Oh you're interested in soccer?"

"Yeah! Who's your favorite team?"

"*Insert well known European team here*"

"Oh no way! My favorite team is *insert another well known European team here*"
"Yeah I wish soccer in the US wasn't so terrible."
"Well, in reality, the MLS has seen huge improvements since its inception just 24 years ago."
"Yeah but it's still terrible."

And that's as far as the conversation ever goes. Before I go any further, I want to say that of course, the level of play in the United States won’t be up to the standard set by European nations simply because it hasn’t been around for as long. But with that being considered, the improvements made in US soccer cannot go unnoticed by soccer fans (especially those who reside in the United States).

In the years since we have gotten our own league, we have really improved our world standing in soccer. Right now one of the most promising rising stars in soccer is an American that plays for the German giant Borussia Dortmund. Not only that, but the MLS has been able to host hugely talented players from around the world such as David Beckham, David Villa, and Andrea Pirlo. But with these big names come some big accusations.

Most would assume that having players that are as prominent as these world-renowned giants would promote a healthy view of the program. But as with any big change, the arrival of big talents brought about a vocal minority of cynics who pushed the idea that big players go to the MLS as a comfortable way to retire, rather than an opportunity to get the most out of their final games as a professional. For example, David Beckham played nearly a fifth of all of his professional games at LA Galaxy where he improved their playoff performance in each season until finally winning the tournament in his last two years at the club.

Revisiting the young prodigy Christian Pulisic, who some might say is only good because of his involvement in a club overseas, but in reality, his development as a player has been entirely American up until 2015. While that development might not directly involve MLS intervention, the improvement of the domestic league is what draws in talent and revenue to the United States soccer program as a whole and keeps the cycle running strong.

The fact that the United States is producing such fantastic young talent can only be a good sign, the problem is keeping them satisfied with playing domestically rather than looking to play in other countries. To do this, every American soccer fan owes the MLS more than just saying that it’s “terrible”. If we want to see any improvement in the weekly soccer on American soil we need to cherish and appreciate what we have so that we can see it grow even more than it already has.

An age-old tradition in soccer is to support your local club. Every American has a professional team that is nearest to them so work to support that team! The level of play might not be what you are used to in the Premier League or La Liga, but with enough support, we could have Spanish soccer fans saying that their favorite club is DC United rather than American fans saying their favorite is Real Madrid.

Cover Image Credit: Jacob Mitchener

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