Philadelphia Independence keeper Val Henderson gives a behind-the-scenes take of everyday life with the WPS expansion club. In her second installment, Henderson explains the life of a not-so-typical 9-to-5 job.Tuesday started on the end line.
Picture a soccer field decorated with cones. A row on the six, another on the top of the box, another at the D, and a dozen more at every other significant mark on the field, all the way down to the other end line. Add a not-so-popular guy with a stopwatch and a team of soccer players to connect the dots, and you’ve got yourself a suicide mile.
Apparently this fitness test is our new bread and butter. Well to be honest, I’d prefer a cheesesteak, but somewhere along the line it was decided that soccer players need to be fit to perform, and that leaves us huffing it up and down the field as fast as we’re able. Go Philly, go!
Six or seven minutes later we’re smiling and slapping hands, congratulating each other for surviving. A sip of water and we’re on the line again for more of Mr. Stopwatch’s fun and games. Some sprinting, shuffling, back-pedaling, changes of direction, killer abs and pushups, and finally we’ve earned the right to play soccer. We jump in teams of five and battle it out on the field for an hour before heading in.
We’ve showered and primped and are gathered outside the Phillies’ stadium (Citizens Bank Park) in matching Philadelphia Independence shirts.
Once we’ve convinced everyone outside the park that Women’s Pro Soccer is thebomb.com, we head in to take on the rest of the fans gathered to watch the Phils take on St. Louis (something we’ll be doing this weekend).
At the seventh-inning stretch our team is announced, and we jump up on the dugout and dance the Cupid Shuffle (a hip-hop version of line-dancing) in front of some 44 thousand newly-turned Independence fans.
Having accomplished our goal of spreading the word about the new team in town, we watch Carlos Ruiz hit a walk-off homerun to give the Phillies the win (a possible foreshadowing of this weekend’s game against the Saint Louis Athletica?) and head home to bed and prepare for whatever Wednesday will bring.
So from the end line to the dugout, step-overs on the soccer field to sidesteps in a Major League park, we don’t have your average day job.
Some people may think that as professional soccer players we have it easy. And we do. Our lives are amazing. We get paid to play soccer. But we get paid to play soccer, because we work our buns off every day.
And then we dance it out.
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