Records are meant to be broken.
You don’t get that many opportunities to be a part of history. Sometimes it occurs unknowingly, sometimes history starts out with potential and BOOM, it happens. It was April 23, 2016, when the Orlando Pride made history. 23,407. The largest attendance in NWSL history. The bar was set, the bar was raised and now it’s being raised even higher in 2017.
Everyone in the Citrus Bowl that April night felt the exhilaration and passion illuminating from the tailgating to when the final whistle blew. I’m not much of a cryer, but I caught myself tearing up in the looming seconds before both teams walked out to a thunderous applaud. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of “wow, you are really apart of this.” There is a massive pressure that is loaded on from the front office to the team that’s playing on the pitch. A new team, new fans…new beginnings. I remember kickoff week like it was just yesterday. So many things were being planned between scarfing the city, promo videos and making sure all the little details would be executed on game day. It was completely exhausting, but it was all worth it in the end.
Right in your backyard you have some of the greatest soccer players in the world competing on a weekly basis. You have Olympians and World Cup Champions battling on the pitch to secure three points in front of a home crowd. You have athletes who work day in and day out to master their craft. You have international heroes. You have LEGENDS like Marta…one of the best footballers in the world. It’s been over 5 years since she’s played in the United States and here, she will be dressed in purple in our beautiful, brand new stadium. If that doesn’t get you hype, I don’t know what will!
While the team faced many ups and downs in it’s first year, it’s safe to say that there’s a different feeling in the air in the Pride locker room and training sessions. Steph Catley herself called it an “air of positivity,” and that is something that you will see on the pitch April 22 and beyond. This team means absolutely everything to these ladies and to represent the city of Orlando is something they do not take lightly.
Here’s the thing, if you’re truly a soccer fan, the gender on the field shouldn’t matter. It’s the same grass, same stadium, same goal…same everything. It’s you the fans who make the atmosphere in there. It’s you the fans that determine the outcome by your endless cheers and taunting. It’s you the fans who are so loud, the opposing side can't even communicate with each other. Every professional who steps into our stadium deserves to be surrounded by the best fans in the world. Even the away team deserves to be in an environment so loud and hostile, that they never want to return again. We want to be the place that teams love to hate.
While we want to break this record, it’s also about consistency. It’s about bringing the heat every single game. This city knows soccer. This city has the best soccer specific stadium right at the palm of your hands. There aren’t that many opportunities to be a part of something bigger than yourself. To be part of the pride and joy of Orlando. Seize those times and get out there and fill those stands. Every single game for the Pride and City. That’s what we are all about, Orlando, so let’s go big and make it known in 2017.
23,407 was great, but records are meant to be broken.