Meaning of soccer

Kansas City artist Jake Balcom
“This stereotype tends to connote a certain crass materialism and the notion that a woman who ought to be liberated and independent has chosen to be a homemaker (and yet is more aggressive about the lifestyle choice than women of previous generations.) In actual fact, many women of all types are proud to call themselves soccer moms in that the term signifies a true dedication to their children. The term, which first gained wide currency in the 1990s, will undoubtedly evolve over time and take on further, often contradictory, shades of meaning.”

This is a story about the evolution of the term.

Meet Christie Rampone, Shannon Boxx and Amy Rodriguez, players on the U.S. women’s national team that will play in this summer’s Women’s World Cup in Canada. But first, they will spend Mother’s Day playing Ireland in a friendly match in San Jose, California.

“I actually can’t remember a Mother’s Day when I wasn’t playing, ” says Rampone. “Whether it was with the national team or my club team, Mother’s Day has always meant gameday.”

Soccer Moms, indeed.

Rampone, 39, is about to play in her fifth World Cup, her third as a mom. She has a pair of daughters, Rylie, who’s 9, and Reece, who’s 5, who’ve grown up around the team. Rampone is the captain, a fairly shy leader-by-example type, who also helped Boxx and Rodriguez realize they, too, could have children, be devoted mothers, and continue to play professional soccer.

“Christie made it look so easy, ” says Boxx, a 37-year old midfielder and mother to 14-month-old daughter Zoe. “I have learned while it’s amazing, it’s also time-consuming. It’s harder to do when you’re in camp, like we are now. But overall, it’s a great experience and, now, I can’t imagine doing this without Zoe. Seeing her smile when I come home from practice, it’s like starting a brand new day. Even if I’ve had a bad day, I’m like, things are pretty good now. I think that’s a balance I may not have had before. Having her around keeps things in perspective, for sure.”

Rodriguez, 28, is the only one of the three U.S. Soccer moms with a son, 18-month old Ryan. A native of Southern California, Rodriguez has not only dealt with the grind of national team duty since becoming a mother, she also had to handle a trade from her club in Seattle to Kansas City. None of it, she says, has been easy. Especially as she prepares for her first World Cup.

“It’s so hard, ” Rodriguez says. “But I’ve really enjoyed it, especially on the national team, because we’ve got a team that supports moms and has a history of supporting moms.”

Photo: Courtesy of Christie Rampone
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