La Crescenta, Calif. – It has been a daunting challenge for SoCal Crush FC trying to build a women’s pro/am soccer team from scratch. Building a roster, finding a field, scheduling practices, actually practicing… all the steps it takes to put a quality product on the pitch.
But lost amidst the storm of soccer is another matter, less visible to the fans watching the game. SoCal Crush was given exacting requirements by the league, United Women’s Soccer, for actually hosting a soccer match. While the players, and the head coach, focused on the ball, the task of putting on a night of soccer for the public fell to Crush general manager Heidi Strauss.
Strauss is serving double duty, acting as head coach Reggie Rivas’ assistant while simultaneously wearing the G.M. hat. In addition, Strauss is a P.E. instructor and soccer coach at nearby Polytechnic School, and somehow finds time to coach at the club soccer level as well.
We asked Coach Strauss about her experiences putting together a professional soccer match for the first time.
Crush: Talk about how much work you had to put into getting everything ready for your club’s first home match?
Strauss: I am a planner, I like to have everything in order well in advance. So we had as much as we could prepared a couple days in advance. We started getting everything ready, as far as assigning our helpers well in advance; some of the vital pieces were on order months ago.
Crush: How was the turnout?
Strauss: 315! We were really impressed by how many people came out to the match. I’m sure we had many Blue Heat supporters, since they are pretty close in proximity to us, but 315 in attendance was impressive, I thought, especially for a holiday weekend.
Crush: Overall, how did the night go for the club, in terms of hosting a UWS match?
Strauss: think it was successful! It is going to be hard to beat 315 fans again in our first season… I hope we can get something close to that in our upcoming games. We are working on ways to keep up that kind of attendance and just keep increasing our fan base.
Crush: How did the night go for you personally?
Strauss: Ha… I was exhausted to be totally honest, my fitbit told me I went 10.5 miles that day which is about double my average! But overall I thought it was amazing!
All of our Crescenta Valley Soccer Club volunteers helped out tremendously, from our ball kids, to the ticket takers, keeping stats, selling our merch, to helping the little ones play at halftime, everyone came together to help us out and I am truly grateful and proud.
Obviously the result wasn’t what we hoped for on the field, but I think we had a great night, there was a very good buzz about the quality of play from both teams, so we are looking forward to the rest of the season.
Crush: How do you feel about the club participating in UWS now that you’ve hosted your first match?
Strauss: I am really excited to be a member of UWS. As the “new kid,” at times I wasn’t sure what the heck I was doing. Joe Ferrara, the league director has been extremely welcoming and very helpful and patient with us as we try to figure everything out and learn the ropes.
We are really appreciative of the support we have received from the league and the other members we have met. I can’t wait to keep learning from all of them and I hope to be able to travel with the team to see how the rest of the league runs their facility and game day management.
10.5 miles. Think about that. The average soccer player runs about 6 miles in a 90 minute match. The average referee, maybe 8. There may not yet be a record for “Most Miles Run in One Day by a Soccer Club General Manager,” but if there is, here’s guessing that Heidi Strauss is the class of the field.
The Crush will host their second home match on Saturday evening, June 3rd, at 6pm. Here’s hoping Coach Strauss runs less than the players that night.
By Mark Edward Hornish