Get to know Gaby Kirschner – Soccer supporter and writer

I was first introduced to Gaby Kirschner’s writing through a mutual friend. Soon after, I came across her article Bleachers Full of Women? The Question of Gender Equality in MLS Supporters’ Culture published at Howler Magazine. I immediately admired her, not only because of the quality of her writing, but because we both shared a support of the same cause: women having a voice in soccer.

Kirschner recently interviewed me for another article in her Bleachers series, Bleachers Full of Women: Debate Over Timbers Army Chant Show Why Words Matter. I appreciate her offering me the opportunity to talk about my experience as a woman supporter of the Chicago Fire.

In the short amount of time that I’ve known Kirschner, I am both impressed by her writing and her love for the beautiful game. I am thankful that she took the time to answer a few questions for me regarding her sports writing career. It’s been fun getting to know her, and I can’t wait for the opportunity where we can share a few adult beverages over a soccer match.

Photo: Marwan Shousher | Instagram: @shousherphotography
  • What inspired you to write the piece, and how did you get involved with The Howler? What is your position with them? What is your general day (responsibilities) like as an editorial assistant with them?

GK: So I was actually inspired to write the Bleachers series for the same reason as I got involved with Howler — representation of women in the soccer world. When I was in England last spring, I faced the typical responses to saying I was a fan: “oh yeah? Who’s Messi?”  (Seriously! Like, I don’t watch American football, but I still know who Peyton Manning is. Come on.) After six months of that, I realized I wanted to work in soccer in order to change that perception (and, of course, because I love the sport and who doesn’t want to do what they love?). I legitimately emailed Howler the summer I came back asking to work for them, and after an edit test and a conversation with George they brought me on board. I’m forever thankful for them for giving me my first opportunity in soccer media, and am so happy to work on a team I think seeks out such unique and important stories.

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WoSo Roundup: From the USWNT to the Red Stars

From the USWNT to Rumi Utsugi, from the Red Stars to equal pay — here’s the latest news on the world of women’s soccer.

USA vs. Japan

U.S.A. vs. Japan in Cleveland on Sunday, June 5. Photo Credit: Shane Murray – @SMurrayMedia

Over the last week, the USWNT played Japan in two intense friendlies. The first match ended in a 3-3 draw, and today the U.S. won 2-0 after the game was called due to severe weather in the 76th minute.  Take a look back at the games and the key notes from this competitive matchup:

Excelle SportsAli Krieger’s going to feel that storm the most Krieger’s still outside looking in on a starting back four spot with Jill Ellis, and not getting another fifteen minutes to prove her worth has to sting. In the meantime, there’s still Washington Spirit matches, but it’s not the same as coming in off the bench and making an immediate mark on the game.

Once A Metro: The formation was advertised as a 4-3-3 with Morgan as the lone striker with Heath and Dunn on the wings, but Press tended to press up higher, converting the formation into more of a 4-2-2 with Morgan and Press up top. Press was an integral part of the attack and created several opportunities in the U.S.’s final third, but the game was called before she could score a goal.

Last Word on Sports: This relatively young squad believes this was a game and experience that will help better prepare them for the Olympics. “Everything that we’re doing right now is to prepare us for the Olympic Games,” Ellis said about moving forward beyond the match. “We learned a valuable lesson. Unfortunately, it is a tough lesson, but if it helps us down in Brazil, I’ll take it.”

The Equalizer: Press had several opportunities in only her fourth start of the year. Her right-footed shot in the opening minute of the match went off the face of Yamane. Press also put an early second-half opportunity wide of the frame from 20 yards out after Tobin Heath played Press into space.

Equal Pay. Equal Play.

The U.S. women are still battling for equal pay. 

Keeper Notes: Going on strike is about exerting the maximum amount of economic pressure on your employer to get them to capitulate to the employment terms and conditions you desire. The USWNT’s best time to strike since 2005 was this last year when the USWNT were coming off all the fame and notoriety that went with being World Cup Champions.  However, a strike also has to have an economic impact that is felt by the employer. The Olympics are set this summer in Brazil and a strike would leave the USWNT without its best players before one of it’s two most important tournaments.

The USWNT fight for equal pay. Photo credit: The Odyssey Online

Continue reading “WoSo Roundup: From the USWNT to the Red Stars”

Words do matter & the power of community

Yesterday The Howler published another article in their Bleachers Full of Women series. This article, Bleachers Full of Women: Debate Over Timbers Army Chant Show Why Words Matter, hit closer to home than the previous two (and that’s saying a lot), as I was interviewed for the piece and was able to reflect on my personal experiences as a female supporter of the Chicago Fire. Author Gaby Kirschner not only ties together issues that the Timbers Army and Section 8 Chicago (S8C) are faced with, but also connects their frustrations to Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro’s #MoreThanMean video.

Kirschner touches base on the impact that words have on the women in Major League Soccer’s supporters’ culture. As Kirschner said, “words have an impact, whether part of a tradition, meant seriously, or not.” I couldn’t agree more.

Since sharing Kirschner’s article via Twitter ( both via my personal account @nikhak and via @section8chicago) there have been mixed reactions. Some have been off-putting and difficult to read like the sarcastic tweet below.

Maud Squiers, who was also quoted in the article, reacts to article responses that she received on Twitter this morning.

Overall, however, Kirschner’s article was well-received. My first tweet about it received 25 retweets and 37 likes. Section 8 Chicago’s tweet was also received more positively than not.

Continue reading “Words do matter & the power of community”

WoSo Roundup

From Hope Solo to the Mewis sisters, from FCKC to DeKalb County – here’s the latest news on the world of women’s soccer.


Photo credit: Nicole Hack



CF97 Sirens NFL Draft predictions – How did they do?

I asked fellow CF97 Sirens, who are also big football fans, to let me in on why they’re so excited about NFL Draft 2016, what they’re least excited for, and who or what type of player they hope their team drafts. Take a look at what they had to say and also find out if their teams drafted the players they were all hoping for.


Susan is a Cleveland native and a diehard Browns fan. #DawgPound | Photo credit: Susan

Who: Susan

Team: Cleveland Browns

Why she was most excited about the draft: I’m pumped on the trade picks they made, but I’m a realist. Just because we have the potential to make good choices, we never do.

Why she is least excited about the draft: Drafting a quarterback. Especially that kid from North Dakota. Get out of here. I’m also skeptical of the team building as a whole.

The type of player she was hoping the Browns would sign: I would love anyone from Ohio State, being my alma mater and all. However, one guy isn’t going to do the trick. It’s the same thing the Cavs struggled with. LeBron James isn’t going to do it himself. Ezekiel Elliot isn’t going to do it himself. We need a TEAM. They need to look deeper than physical stats and see how players perform together. Unselfish and fit.

Continue reading “CF97 Sirens NFL Draft predictions – How did they do?”

#MoreThanMean: Say no to online harassment

I’ve been a sports (soccer) fan since I was a young girl. Soccer has consumed me. It’s made me stronger and more compassionate person; it has allowed me to befriend countless people, who would have otherwise never entered my life. Soccer has made me the person that I am today, and I am thankful for that.

When it comes to social media, I know that I’m that friend of yours, who is constantly posting about women in soccer and women in sports. I promote women in sport and women playing sports. Some of you may be annoyed with it. Some of you may embrace it. I’m okay playing this role. It was my decision to. The way I see it is, if I don’t advocate, who will?

Over the years, I have done my best to be a respected voice and advocate of women in sport. I work hard to prove my worth as a sports fan because I am a woman. This is obviously, frustrating, as we shouldn’t have to prove our dedication of sport to others.

Sports reporters, Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro, collaborated with Just Not Sports to show the world through just how awful it is to face harassment regularly on Twitter. I highly suggest that you watch this video and you share it with others. I, for one, am thankful for it, and I am thankful for the impactful message that Spain and DiCaro have shared with all of us. #MoreThanMean

Let’s empower one another.

Disclaimer: You may need a box of tissues while watching this video.

Please also consider following @ZeroSafety on Twitter. The account was created to collect screencaps of online harassment.

Bleachers Full of Babes: Objectifying Women Sports Fans

Late last week, NASL team Miami FC tweeted a video promoting their home opener for this past Saturday. The video showed two women, who Miami FC used to encourage their followers to “join these babes on Saturday!” Gaby Kirschner,  a contributor to Howler Magazine, responded to the tweet in her article Bleachers Full of Women: Are American clubs Treating Women as Fans or Products?  Kirschner questions what Miami FC is selling.

So what are Miami FC and other professional soccer clubs in the U.S. trying to sell, and why is it a point of contention? Here are a few points that arise from these questions:

  • Who exactly are teams marketing to? Who is their audience?
  • Using women as a marketing tool isolates half of the potential fan market of a team
  • Using women to market sports teams alludes to stereotypes that women don’t enjoy sports or are just there to impress men
    • Just as Kirschner states:

The trope that women only like sports to impress men or because they find the players attractive is the oldest one in the book.”

Continue reading “Bleachers Full of Babes: Objectifying Women Sports Fans”