The following is a blog post submitted by Rachel Greenough.
It generally takes me a long time to find my people. People who know me well laugh when I say I’m not outgoing, because I do talk a whole lot and I love people, but it takes me a while to get there. At first, I talk because I’m just so nervous.
This is to say that it’s sometimes hard to find my place. But when I do, I’m all in. I got involved with the Riveters because I got to know one or two people enough to bug them until they offered me a role. It has been the greatest honor of my life to find myself among friends and at home in this culture.
When that place and that community are threatened, it is devastating… I am so mad about the things that happened to Mana Shim, Sinead Farrelly, Kaiya McCullough, Erin Simon, and so many others in this league, but I am also mad about what has happened to my own friends, the people I work and cheer alongside every week to build this community, make things happen, and dream of what more we can be. I'm mad about their pain and trauma. I’m mad about the splintering of our community, the challenge to our joy, the hit to our ability to come out in droves and make a difference in and out of soccer.
But here we are, heading to a final. Whether we are in DC, at a watch party in Portland or around the world, at home on our couches, we are here for the players, but we are also here for ourselves, each other, and our community. As Bill Oram so eloquently expressed in his column last weekend, this is so much bigger than who owns the club. As we own our space, find new space, and support one another, we render the team owner irrelevant. As we find pathways to support the players, ensure their safety and good treatment, ensure that their voices are heard and respected if they wish to speak up, honor their wishes if they do not… as we look to one another and smile, laugh, cheer… these are the ways that we will heal and find joy.
I will continue to say it until we all feel it, until the joy comes easier: our joy is our resistance. We have worked to get here, as have the players. We will not give up, we will not back down. In the meantime, we have to take the wins where we find them. We need to feel that catharsis of a DUNN BANGER IN THE 90+3! We need to feel the joy of running into friendly faces at the airport, talking to strangers about the joy of women’s sports.
My mom is a big supporter of the team, and a big supporter of supporter culture. She wasn’t in the stadium last weekend but she told me she was surprised to find herself standing in her room in front of the TV, yelling, crying (and scaring the dog) when Crystal Dunn scored her goal. In the stadium, I yelled. Just tipped my head back and yelled at the top of my lungs. I felt like I should have rainbows and roses shooting out of my seams as I ripped apart. But I also felt like I was being stitched back together, I felt whole again in that stadium, claiming OUR HOME, sending immaculate vibes to our team, woven deeply into a web of 22,000+ supporters who were there and countless more who were startling dogs or taking over bars or screaming from afar.
Catharsis is beautiful, joy is necessary, community is power, love is strength, and we need all the strength to keep this up. I am filled with gratitude for each of you, everywhere. Let’s do this thing.
Views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of the 107IST, the Timbers Army, or the Rose City Riveters.