Moments away from the Spirit’s first game of preseason and snow is steadily falling in the MD SoccerPlex. The stands contain a number of die hard fans wrapped up in blankets chattering and cheering on their team. Above those sounds is the loud drumbeat and familiar refrain “When we root, we root for the Spirit.”
The cheers are coming, as they have for the past four years, from the ebullient Spirit Squadron. Regardless of the weather, regardless of the opponent the Squadron are in the stands cheering on the team. The Spirit’s primary supporters group has followed a similar development path as the pro team they support. 2013 was a growth year for both squads, but the last two years have seen both sides mature and impress those around the league.
Now outfitted with a powerful snare drum and an arsenal of chants, the Spirit Squadron is a powerful source of support for the players through 90 minutes of every match.
The Squadron are ardent supporters of not only the Spirit, but professional women’s soccer as a whole. Angie Kanellopulos, a founding member of the Spirit Squadron, explained “Supporting the teams and the league as a whole is our, as fans, way of showing that women’s soccer has a legitimate place in the sports landscape of this country. I very much want women’s soccer to succeed in the US. The NWSL, by its very existence, supports women’s soccer in the US. So for me, supporting the Spirit, which in turn supports the NWSL, is one of the tangible ways I can help make that dream a reality.”
Their chants emanate throughout the Plex helping give the atmosphere and electric jolt. Young fans seeing a supporters group for the first time often stop by and ask to join the chant or bang on the drums a few times.
The group is eager to continue growing their numbers. Squadron member Chris Butzer noted that “Year four is a big one for the Squadron. We are continuing to grow while still maintaining that family-like feel.” Butzer noted that the Squadron has an open invitation to all fans to stop by a tailgate or section 117 in the stadium to say hi and join in on a chant or two.
[For More Information: www.spiritsquadron.org]
The Spirit earned points in nine of ten home games only recording one loss, giving true meaning to the term home field advantage. Players lauded the Squadron and home fans
throughout the season for creating an atmosphere that buoyed them to success.
The 2015 home record is a point of pride for the Squadron as Butzer explained “I’m genuinely proud of our home record last season. I love being one of the “12th women” for this team. I will do whatever I can to hype up our players and give them a little advantage while playing at home. I feel like we’re doing our small part to help the team have success.”
The Squadron will undoubtedly be at the Plex this Saturday as the Spirit face the Boston Breakers in its 2016 NWSL opening game. Do you have your tickets to take in the action on Saturday?