Put Up or Shut Up

Official Portland Timbers Reporter
Official Portland Timbers Reporter

By Sheba Rawson @shebainpdx

Welcome aboard!

My name is Sheba Rawson, and I’ll be writing about the Portland Timbers for MLSFemale this season. I’m a mom, an educator, and a member of the Timbers Army.

I’ve always loved sports. As a child growing up in the Bay Area, I attended pretty much every Stanford home football game until I graduated from high school; and I followed local pro football, baseball, and basketball teams. And as a young adult, I was lucky enough to participate in competitive sports myself, from track in high school to collegiate and women’s open ultimate. But I only really discovered soccer a little later in the game.

Back in 2004-5, my oldest son started playing club soccer. Besides the usual soccer mom learning curve (“explain offside to me one more time, please”), I was introduced to professional soccer. Bernie Fagan, who ran my son’s soccer club, used to play for the Portland Timbers back in NASL days in the early 80s. Bernie wisely gave all of his club’s players season tickets to the (USL) Timbers, knowing full well that we wouldn’t just drop off our ten-year-olds at the stadium. So we bought tickets for the whole family and started coming to games.

I was hooked almost immediately. In addition to the fast pace and excitement of the game, the Timbers had a VERY passionate group of supporters in the north end of the stadium. Even when the action on the field was disappointing, the action in the stands more than made up the difference. The Timbers Army chanted and sang nonstop, from before the game began until well after the game was over. Some crazy guy with a chainsaw was there, too: Timber Jim could sometimes be found dangling from the rafters on a rope line or climbing to the top of a REALLY tall spar pole in the south end in the middle of the match.

There was plenty of action on the field, of course. Scot Thompson was a stalwart on defense. Byron Alvarez was an electric forward. And Bryan Jordan, who was *maybe* 5’7” in his cleats, inspired my height-challenged son to believe that on the soccer field anything was possible, even for the not-so-tall among us.

As the Timbers made the move to MLS, I became more involved with the Timbers Army. Eventually I became a board member on the 107 Independent Supporters Trust (107IST), the nonprofit engine that fuels the Timbers Army. I’ll be happy to share more about that as we go along, if you’re interested. After family and work, it really is my second (third?) life and love.

I’ve been through some incredible ups and downs with the Timbers, from their USL days through their first six MLS seasons. And I look forward to sharing their seventh MLS year with you. I love the team and the game, and I’ll share the joys and sorrows of the season with you all. If you’re looking for keen insight into individual player roles and deep tactical analysis, I’m likely to disappoint you. But if you’re wanting to talk Timbers with a passionate fan with a little knowledge of the basics and a big love of the team and the game, I’m here for you.

Lastly, I want to offer a special welcome to female MLS fans who want to talk Timbers. As a woman who loves sports, I have tried–and usually failed–to find sports radio or TV that welcomes me to the conversation. One of the reasons I answered the call to write here is my constant complaint that very little room is made in sports media for female fans. I don’t think it’s on purpose, usually; but pro sports talk in this country most definitely has a male audience in mind most of the time. When this opportunity presented itself, I realized that if I wanted room in the sports world for female fans to be heard, I really should put up or shut up myself.

So, here I am, embarking on a new adventure with all of you. I have no idea where it will take us. But I’m looking forward to the ride.

Come chat with me on twitter: @shebainpdx

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