The year is 2030. A tiny child, short, but mighty, with long golden hair skips out onto the field. It’s her first soccer game, and she’s nervous. Maybe I should have chosen dance class, she thinks. But Mom says, “Real Women Wear Cleats,” and Mom has the trophies and medals to prove it. So here she is, in an oversized uniform, her hair tied back so it won’t impede her ability to watch the ball.
Mom is on the sidelines, remembering her days as a high school intern at the very place, Grand Park. She’s smiling and waving encouragement, while silently repeating the mantra she’s been hearing in her head since little Mia Hamm Doyle-Beckham kicked her first foam soccer ball out of her playpen and into the laundry basket across the room. Nothin’ but net.
Don’t be a psycho sports mom…Don’t be a psycho sports mom…
To understand this, we must return to 2016, when Erin Doyle, a junior at Westfield High School, was accepted for a summer internship by Hospitality and Volunteer Coordinator Erin Shockley. A swimmer, runner, basketball player, and soccer player since age four, Ms. Doyle was a natural fit for Grand Park. And because she was also smart, resourceful, and bold, when the summer ended, she was asked to stay on, focusing on social media, in addition to driving ride assistance golf carts.
Erin shared her goals with coworkers: a degree in biomedical engineering, and the opportunity to help develop fully-functional prosthetic limbs and artificially-grown human organs for transplantation.
She loved driving grandparents who needed help getting around Grand Park. And she quietly rolled her eyes at the parents screaming, “Run!” “Hit the ball!” and “You’re supposed to be over THERE!” as though their children might have forgotten how to play their sport. As for the ones who cursed at referees and umpires as though they were at the World Series and about to lose a large wager, rather than their 9-year-old’s travel game, well, Erin could only shake her head and promise herself never to become one of them.
When little Mia Hamm is older, Erin will share some of her memorable moments at Grand Park:
- Transporting a nose-bleed victim with tampons sticking out of her nostrils,
- Accidentally startling kissing teenagers in the Grand Park woods, and
- Being asked (way too often) if she’s really old enough to drive a golf cart.
And she’ll encourage her daughter to do what she did: work at a place you’re proud of, learn the many uses for feminine hygiene products, and never lose your mind at a sporting event. Or a dance class.
Written by: Myra Levine