I had intended to make Enduring Spirit: Restoring Professional Women’s Soccer to Washington available in print in time for Christmas. You’ll have to hurry and possibly pay a bit extra if you want it under your tree, but in any case, it is finally available on Amazon. (Yes, I had to design a new cover, which irritated me to no end.)
– How Spirit owner Bill Lynch summed up the team’s relationship with MLS club D.C. United.
– U.S. coach Tom Sermanni’s thoughts on the NWSL on Draft Day.
– Then-coach Mike Jorden’s initial reaction to the team’s draft picks.
– How the Spirit’s approach to free agency differed from that of other teams.
– Who made an impression at the Spirit’s open tryouts March 3.
– Assistant coach Kris Ward’s account of Lori Lindsey and Julia Roberts practicing with his D.C. United Academy team.
– The dynamic of Spirit practices, with Ward usually leading most of the drills and Jorden choosing his spots to speak.
– Why D.C. United Women assistant coach Cindi Harkes couldn’t commit to the Spirit.
– Which player wanted to check her official team photo to make sure she looked cute. (Easy one to guess.)
– Which player dominated the first official Spirit practice.
– How the Spirit adjusted when windy weather forced them inside in preseason.
– Why Real World star Heather Cooke found the camp atmosphere more intimidating than reality TV.
– Cooke’s car-intensive youth career and how she wound up playing for the Philippines.
– Which discovery player struggled in the second week of practice.
– Which player was so competitive that she refused to switch to an easier matchup in a running drill.
– Several players (Ingrid Wells, Kika Toulouse, Chantel Jones among them) comparing their experiences overseas to the Spirit environment.
– Lori Lindsey’s preseason thoughts on the team’s playing style.
– Which player worked in a sports bar.
– Which player worked as a dog sitter.
– Why Ashlyn Harris didn’t really need another training camp.
– Anson Dorrance’s defense of insisting on playing with college substitution rules.
– Why the Spirit didn’t object to college substitution rules in other preseason games.
– UNC’s Kealia Ohai on the differences between between the college game and the Tar Heels’ preseason loss to the Spirit.
– How Jasmyne Spencer was greeted in a preseason game at her alma mater.
– How Tori Huster adjusted to playing center back.
– Which player was most prone to cursing at herself in practice.
– How the Spirit prepared for the opener against Boston, including a couple of animated discussions about defensive tactics and a less-than-imposing wall on free kicks.
– Which vertically challenged Spirit player scored on a header over tall goalkeeping coach Lloyd Yaxley.
– Lori Lindsey’s toast after the opening draw with Boston.
– All about one of the most amusing supporting characters of the season — the bus driver on the first Boston trip.
– Which player plowed through New York Times crossword puzzles on the bus.
– Which player wasn’t a fan of the German people’s serious attitudes.
– How news of the Boston Marathon bombing affected the team as it traveled back from Boston.
– Which player looked like a Navy SEAL in an early-season fitness drill.
– Which player tried, in Lloyd Yaxley’s words, “Hollywood passes.”
– Julia Roberts on the difference between a big W-League team in 2012 and an NWSL team in 2013.
– Kika Toulouse’s approach toward making the team’s pregame music mix.
– Which player forgot to remove her warmup gear before going to check in to an early-season game.
– Which U.S. women’s team staff member visited an April practice.
– Which player was upset over a prank involving an autographed picture.
– Which player’s college choice was affected by the Eurosport catalog.
– Which player’s early playing experience was nothing other than “being thrown in the net by my brothers.”
– Robyn Gayle’s thoughts on staying in women’s soccer even years without a pro league.
That’s a partial list through April. I’ll add more later, but at least this gives you an idea.
It’s not an insider account of every team meeting. I was only invited to one, and it involved a fun game of charades.
It’s not an opinion piece. There’s a good bit of detail on the events leading up to Mike Jorden’s departure and a few other moves, and there’s a bit of analysis where needed. The game reports are pretty subjective. It’s not a point-by-point take on what the Spirit did right and wrong.
It’s a diary of the team and a collection of interviews with every player and nearly everyone involved. It captures their personalities, their struggles and those moments when things went well.
Enjoy. Print, Kindle, Nook — whatever you prefer.