Football, futbol, fodbold (it’s a Danish thing), or as most of us Los Angelans refer to it as – soccer. There may be a variety of ways to call the sport, but there can only be one LA Galaxy. I have had the privilege of literally getting up close and personal with the team as of recently, attending an Instagram meetup and two of their home games.
Though I had never seen an actual Galaxy game in person, I was still nervous to attend the Instagram meetup on a sunny March 3 afternoon at the Manhattan Beach Pier. Professional athletes are all intimidating and won’t want anything to do with a pesky teenaged photographer girl… Right? How very wrong I was when I got to the actual meetup. Lugging my camera and tripod through the sand, I was immediately greeted by the team’s communication manager Chris Glidden, who had helped get the word out to the guys that my little journalist self would be coming. The purpose of the actual meetup was to promote the launch of the team’s “Blue on Blue” secondary kit. Chris led me around to various people involved with the project and I learned that there is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on for something as simple as athletes’ apparel. After chatting with the design masters of the project, I finally got the courage to approach one of the actual Galaxy members. Though the entire team wasn’t there, the majority of the ones in attendance were immersed in a beach soccer game, but I noticed midfielder Baggio Husidic off doing his own thing. My “intimidating professional athlete” theory was once again proven wrong, with Baggio more than happy to pose for the cheesy “foot dramatically resting on soccer ball” photo that I had requested. After taking the photo, he was even happier to share with me that his mother is also named Mira! I stuck around until sundown to enjoy the ongoing beach soccer game that was team “Galaxy” versus team “cute kids that already have the athletic potential to also be professionals one day.”
So just when I think this whole situation can’t get any cooler, a couple of days later I get the privilege of being invited to photograph the March 6 Galaxy game. My little journalist self felt even littler upon entering the wonder that is the StubHub Center. Separated from the field only by a couple of inch, thick barrier, it was certainly a step up from the casual beach game I had previously attended. My field side view not only allowed me to literally see the sweat drip from the players’ faces, it also put me right in the midst of the fans’ energy. From scarf spinning to the signature chants, it was pretty clear how many hearts this team has won over. Torn between wanting to be a part of the fan festivities and maintaining my professional aspect, the game came to an end before I knew it. Finishing with a 2-0 win over Chicago Fire and a camera full of some of the best sports photos I’ve ever taken, I was probably even happier than some of the players themselves. I thought my perfect night had come to an end, but instead I ended up accidentally stumbling into a seemingly exclusive after game celebration. Surrounded by the players’ family and friends and even some of the players themselves, I felt a tad out of place, but my “you’re a journalist, just go with it” instinct kicked in. The passion I had seen the players demonstrate on the field was similarly displayed, this time in the form of their interactions with their family and friends. The fact that they had brought home a win that night probably added to all of this positive energy, but seeing the team from start to finish, it was obvious what a family this team really is. I left that night feeling inspired in so many more ways than any other sporting event had ever left me.
As if my dreams hadn’t already come true after all of those shenanigans, I was back in full Galaxy swing at their next home game on March 21. Definitely more confident than I deserved to be as only a second time game-goer, I strutted down to my previous field-side perch amongst the other photographers. The fan energy was no less than it had been at the prior game, but this time I felt more qualified to be a part of it. In fact, the fan energy heightened as the game unfolded. The professional aspect that I worked to maintain at the last game was now almost entirely gone, as I too threw myself into this fan energy, booing and cheering when appropriate (or as much as the overhyped crowd deemed appropriate). Houston Dynamo did indeed live up to their team name, providing me with more than enough explosive candid moments to capture. Many, many nail-biting moments later, the game actually ended up with a score of 1-1. I was bummed about not having witnessed another win, but still beyond honored that I had even witnessed the game at all, especially from my perspective. Without an after-game celebration for me to crash this time, I waited for the stadium to clear out and basked in the emptiness with the hope that the StubHub Center (and of course the team) and I will meet again.