A Moment of Reflection on Backline Soccer in 2016

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2016 will go down as one of the weirdest years in recent memory. From the cluster that was the political process to the USWNT not medaling for the first time in a major tournament to all of the deaths of both famous people and normal people made famous by their deaths, it has been a year most would like to forget.

But there is one thing that I will always be thankful for in 2016. If this year were somehow struck from the record, Backline Soccer wouldn’t have been born.

The story of how Backline Soccer came into the world isn’t one I’ve told in this form before. But here goes:

The story of Backline Soccer’s birth starts in the shadow on the 2015 World Cup. My first foray into any women’s soccer media was doing a podcast with some friends at the time. It was my first real experience breaking down games and talking about soccer in depth like that. The show ended just before 2016 but it served as my introduction.

My first real media experience was writing for Once A Metro. They cover the New York Red Bulls of the MLS but also Sky Blue FC in the NWSL. My very first piece was “U.S. Soccer and USWNT head to court”. Talk about trial by fire.

During my time at OAM, I saw a site called Midfield Press put out a tweet looking for people to write about the NWSL. They mostly cover men’s second division soccer but were looking to add more women’s soccer writers to their staff. I took a chance and decided to invest all my time in Midfield.

While I was working at Midfield Press, I was lucky enough to get to know Susie Rantz who writes for Sounder at Heart. She brought me on to do some work covering the Reign. I still write for them because it’s nice to have a team focused site where I don’t have to be the boss.

Jason Bruzzichesi, the Midfield Press editor-in-chief, gave me pretty much all the freedom I wanted. We soon built up the women’s side to be far more than just the second fiddle on the site. There I met Monica Esenwein and Sandra Herrera, two people who would soon become dear friends. I brought on board Chelsey Bush, who would become important later in the story. The four of us started doing The Midfield Report podcast on April 4th (which later became The Scouting Report) and had a lot of fun learning the ropes. I brought in a few more writers over my time there, many who made the jump to Backline after it was formed. 

Monica, Sandra, Chelsey and I talked a lot about the idea of creating a women’s soccer site. While we loved working at Midfield Press they were having a bit of an identity crisis. The timing worked out for most of the women’s soccer section to be able to move right before the 2016 Rio Olympics.

I called Chelsey on a Tuesday during her lunch hour, and then Monica and we decided to start the site. Sandra was on a plane to her brother’s wedding in Mexico but we knew she wouldn’t want to be left out, so we assumed she’d be in – thankfully we were right.

Backline Soccer was officially born on August 2nd, 2016. It was named partly because the four founders are all big fans of solid defense, partly in honor of Becky Sauerbrunn, who is the best BS in WoSo (and there is a lot of BS), and partly because BacklineSoccer.com wasn’t already taken. 

The work we’re doing is pretty damn good. I might not be a perfect editor, but I’m learning and trying to help the site grow. We’re covering a sport we love, with a group of people that we trust and enjoy working with. From our copy editors to our social media person to our writers, we’ve come together to create a pretty awesome crew. To top off the wonder that is 2016 for Backline Soccer, earlier this month Chelsey and I were both voted in to the NWSL Media Association.

2016 has been crazy. For me and for Backline Soccer it’s been a coming into our own. I couldn’t have done it without help. 

To Monica, Sandra, and Chelsey, thank you for everything you three have done for the podcast, the site and for me. You are three of the best people I know. Monica I can’t wait to see what you do outside of Backline in 2017. I had no idea how much I needed you three in my life until I had you. 

To the Jacob, Ellen, Elizabeth, Alanna, Leigh, Luis, Jacqui Porter, Jenn, Jordan, Melissa, Kelley and Adriana – You are some of my favorite people in the world. Every week I am blown away at the articles you write and the conversations we have. The site and I are so lucky to have you. 

A special shoutout to Dan Lauletta of Equalizer Soccer, who has been a huge help and source of information – I would be a little more lost in the woods than I am if it wasn’t for you. Thank you for all you’ve done for me and others in our WoSo world.

To the crew I write with at Sounder at Heart – Thank you for helping me be better and sharing how awesome Seattle is with this New Yorker. 

And to the readers who have read and commented and shared Backline Soccer’s work – Thank you for everything. We would not be here without you.

2017 starts in a few days. We here at Backline Soccer can’t wait to see what comes next.