From the moment you meet my son Beckett, you will notice a few things. He has these beautiful blue eyes and an adorable smile. You will also know, because he will tell you, that he is four and a half and plays on three soccer teams. Beckett will then likely tell you about a goal or two that he scored and recant every person he ran past and even the person who kicked him before staying on his feet and scoring a goal.
He was born to play and love soccer. I was in labor with Beckett during the US Men’s National team game against Mexico in 2009. He started walking at 12 months, three days and the very next day was dribbling a soccer ball. He would go scouting with my husband at 18 months old and actually watch the game. Beckett would sit on his daddy’s lap while watching our favorite English Premier League team, Tottenham Hotspur, and sing “When The Spurs Go Marching In” after a goal celebration. When he gets Spiderman toys or Transformers as gifts, he doesn’t even know what to do with him. Safe bet-just get him a soccer ball. When people see him play, they are amazed at his vision for the game and I just have to tell people that God just made him that way.
Beckett’s first FC Dallas game was with me and his grandpa just after his second birthday. He had the “on field” experience which allowed him access to the field to which he went from end line to end line asking for a ball and trying to go to goal.
So last year, we decided to up our game and bought season tickets to FC Dallas. With a family of soccer players and a husband who coaches, it seemed like a natural fit for good times and lasting memories. Little did we know the unbelievable experiences that would be afforded thanks to our season tickets. Attending games became our family deal and in doing so, we came to know Beckett’s favorite player, #33 Kenny Cooper.
Through a few special season ticket holder events, we had a couple opportunities to cozy up with Kenny and his adorable wife, Molly. These little moments in time were just that...little. But they are moments in time that we will never forget. The smile on his face when he gets to see his beloved Kenny Cooper is pure joy to watch. So when he was no longer part of our team, we were all devastated and didn’t tell Beckett for months. He questioned when he would see Kenny Cooper again (yes, he ALWAYS uses his first and last name) and we told him it would only be when his new team, the Seattle Sounders, came to town.
Well, who knew that we would have the opportunity to see Tottenham play in the States and as luck would have it, they were playing the Sounders. A chance to experience a Sounders game, escape from a Texas summer and see our favorite EPL team play....sign us up!
You can tell from the first time you meet Kenny Cooper that he is a professional athlete with a huge heart. A kind, genuine, authentic man of God and self-proclaimed soccer nerd, Kenny is one-of-a-kind. Talented and down-to-earth, he isn’t just another soccer player with skill, flair and charm. He has enhanced my love of the game purely by being a role model for Beckett. He is not just a soccer player, but an ambassador for the game. In the realm of professional athletics with men pounding their chests, big egos, and even bigger paychecks, though many soccer professionals in the US are paid well, the majority of them are not. They play for the love of the game and their demeanor and attitudes shine through.
That is the way I feel about Kenny Cooper. He didn’t have to respond to this crazy soccer mom’s requests but he did. The Sounders are lucky to have him! He not only graciously gave us tickets to the friendly in Seattle, but after his practice on Friday, he kicked around with Beckett, chased him around the field, all the while a happy little fan giggled and smiled.
After his ice bath and film session, Kenny joined us to one of his favorite local brunch spots, Portage Bay. Portage Bay not only puts out an amazing French toast and fresh fruit topping bar, but Tom, the friendly host with the most, told us what we already knew--that Kenny Cooper is one of the nicest guys around. He made time for us, which is what long-time friends and family do. I can’t name any other professional athletes that would do that or at least I have never met any others that would. But the best part of all is that it wasn’t out of obligation, but something that he did because it’s part of his personality and woven into the fabric of who he is.
This has been an amazing year for soccer in the United States so it’s pretty easy to hop on the soccer bandwagon. And I highly recommend that. I’m not going to lie, soccer takes some getting used to. But once you see the game for what it is, how hard these players work and the amount of energy they exert, you’d be hard-pressed to find nothing but the utmost respect for players. I encourage you to start supporting your local MLS team. I hope you will have a similar experience that my family has. There’s nothing like it in the world!