There's no debating the crossover between music and sports and ESPN The Magazine brings the connection to the forefront with this year's Music Issue. The Mag got creative with this issue, having athletes impersonating various album covers.
Some of the highlights include Oympic gold medal swimmer Ryan Lochte as the swimming baby on Nirvana's iconic "Nevermind" cover, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman as Michael Jackson on the cover of "Thriller" and let's not forget about Thorns FC forward Alex Morgan, who graces the issue as pop star Katy Perry in her "One of the Boys" cover.
The issue doesn't hit the shelves until Feb. 8, but ESPN released some behind-the-scenes video and photos of the creative process.
You can take a look at Morgan's album cover here.
Earlier this month, the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) held their inaugural College Draft for the new league in Indianapolis. After a weighted draw determined the draft order, Portland Thorns FC selected University of Florida defender Kathryn Williamson with the eighth overall pick. (Read this feature on how she was engaged only a week before the draft. A busy January for her to be sure.)
While in Indianapolis for the 2013 MLS SuperDraft and the NWSL College Draft, I also had the opportunity to attend the Women's Soccer breakfast at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention (NSCAA). The NSCAA is a massive gathering of, yes, coaches, but also soccer gear manufacturers, leaders, players, and more. There's workshops, panels, speeches and gatherings. Basically, it's everything that is anything that is happening in U.S. Soccer at the moment. The Original Winger has a great photo essay and blog post about the NSCAA and its scope in their Portrait of A Sport.
The Women's Soccer breakfast is a celebration of excellence over the past year in the women's game and while there, I just happened to be seated next to Becky Burleigh, head women's soccer coach at the University of Florida and most recently, she coached Williamson for all of the defender's four years in Gainesville. Burleigh started the women's soccer program at Florida in 1994, won an NCAA national championship in 1998, and helped mentor U.S. national team stars Abby Wambach (Western New York Flash) and Heather Mitts (Boston Breakers) as well as Canada's Melanie Booth (Sky Blue FC).
Following the breakfast, I chatted with Becky for a short while about what type of player Kathryn Williamson is, what she thinks she'll bring to the Thorns, and how the NWSL presents a great challenge and opportunity for recent collegiate players.
The Backcut Podcast sits at the intersection of Timbers, Thorns, soccer & culture to explore the unique elements of the beautiful game. You can subscribe to The Backcut on iTunes in the same feed as the Talk Timbers podcast.
A distinguished career with the U.S. Women’s National Team including 158 international appearances, a champion in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup and a two-time Olympic gold medal winner, Portland Thorns FC head coach Cindy Parlow Cone is now up for another honor: Election to the National Soccer Hall of Fame.
Voting (which does not include a fan vote) started on Jan. 25 and will continue until Feb. 22; results will be announced shortly after. A player must be listed on at least 66.7 percent of the ballots in order to be elected to the Hall of Fame.
Parlow Cone, who last played for the Women’s National Team in 2004, scored 75 goals throughout her international career. Following her debut against Russia in January 1996, the Memphis, Tenn., native, appeared in three Olympic Games (1996, 2000, 2004) as well as the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments. She ranks sixth overall on the Women’s National Team career points list with 185 (75 goals and 35 assists), as well as second overall in career hat-tricks (8) just behind Mia Hamm (10).
“I feel very honored to be on the ballot for the National Soccer Hall of Fame,” Parlow Cone said. “I am so proud and feel so fortunate to have been able to represent the United States on the international stage. Now, as a coach in the NWSL for Portland Thorns FC, I’m really looking forward to continuing the development of women’s soccer.”
On the professional side, Parlow Cone played four seasons in the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA), all of them with the Atlanta Beat. She was a member of the Atlanta teams that finished as runner-up for the WUSA title in 2001 and 2003.
Other notable players on the Class of 2013 ballot include: Chris Armas, Wade Barrett, Mauricio Cienfuegos, Raul Diaz Arce, Marco Etcheverry, Lorrie Fair, Robin Fraser, Chris Henderson, Angela Hucles, Jason Kreis, Roy Lassiter, Shannon MacMillan, Joe-Max Moore, Victor Nogueira, John O’Brien, Ben Olsen, Ante Razov, Tiffany Roberts, Tony Sanneh, Taylor Twellman and Tisha Venturini-Hoch.
“She’s a nightmare for defenses. Her size was never an issue in college because she’s so fast and so fit. … How do you replace that engine? Who’s going to be as willing to work as hard as Nicolette did?”
Those are the words of University of Central Florida head coach Amanda Cromwell. A former U.S. Women’s National Team member alongside Thorns FC head coach Cindy Parlow Cone, Cromwell recommended Nicolette Radovcic to Portland prior to the National Women’s Soccer League College Draft nearly two weeks ago.
Parlow Cone, formerly an assistant coach at the University of North Carolina, already had a bit of familiarity with Radovcic before the draft. The energetic attacker played 86 minutes in UCF’s 5-4 penalty kick win against UNC on Nov. 20, 2011, helping the Knights reach the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament.
Sports writer Jane Havsy of Radovcic’s hometown newspaper the Daily Record (Morris County, N.J.) caught up with Thorns FC’s second round pick, Parlow Cone and Cromwell for a good story.
“It’s a dream come true,” Radovcic said. “You play soccer, you go through college, and you’re like, ‘I really want to play after college,’ but only a few people are fortunate enough to be able to play after college. So to be selected in the draft, to that team, I am just so speechless and so grateful.”
Those are the words of Thorns FC forward/midfielder Nicolette Radovcic who just a few months ago was a marketing intern with the New York Red Bulls helping out at Red Bull Arena's Interactive Zone. The Rockaway, NJ native had 30 goals and 16 assists in four seasons at the University of Central Florida before being drafted by Portland 16th overall.
NewYorkRedBulls.com's Frank Della Femina has a nice profile of the new Thorns pick and how she's excited to jump from the Red Bulls to the new NWSL.
The Oregonian's Geoffrey Arnold chatted with Thorns FC's first-round draft pick Kathryn Williamson to get the story on how she found out she was drafted. She apparently had some pretty excited friends.
"They were on computers and I was on Twitter on my phone. I guess their computer was faster than my phone, because they started screaming and said I got drafted," Williamson said. "I thought they were joking, because it hadn't come up on my phone yet. I'm like, 'That is a really mean joke.'"
But of course, it was not a joke at all. Williamson was the club's inaugural first-ever NWSL Draft selection on Friday--an honor that she quickly warmed to.
So thankful and excited to start a new chapter of my life with the Portland thorns @thornsfc!
— Kat Williamson (@KatWilliamson7) January 18, 2013
Williamson's new teammates were also excited to have more players on the Thorns squad:
— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) January 18, 2013
— Karina LeBlanc (@karinaleblanc) January 18, 2013
Check out Thorns FC head coach Cindy Parlow Cone's take on the new crop:
Clearly, the day had plenty of fun and promise.
New Thorns FC goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc is no wallflower. Personable, charismatic, and fearless in asking anyone for an interview, she is currently with the Canadian Women's National Team in China at the Yongchuan Cup.
Frustrated by her Canadian and now Thorns FC teammate Christine Sinclair coming in last amongst Asian voters in the recent Ballon d'Or voting, LeBlanc went to the streets of Yongchuan with her famous KK Cam to help spread the good word of the merits of Ms. Sinclair.
I have a feeling we'll be seeing some more of KK Cam in the Portland Thorns FC future.
After today's NWSL allocation of national team players, much of the early chatter has been about the incredible forward pairing of Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair. And with good reason. Combined, the pair scored 51 goals over 53 matches for the United States and Canada in 2012.
But perhaps the steal of the day was in acquiring midfielder Tobin Heath. Long considered one of the best up-and-coming midfielders on the USWNT, Heath won three NCAA national championships with the University of North Carolina. Her final one, in 2009, had current Thorns FC head coach Cindy Parlow Cone as an assistant on the team.
But it is also known in soccer circles that Heath is a master of the trick shot and ball skills. A while back, while on the road with the USWNT, Heath went on a simple walkabout. But this is hardly the simple walkabout you and I might make. WATCH:
Tip of the hat to soccer writer Charles Boehm.
If ever there was a sense that a rising tide lifts all boats in the new NWSL, it's this:
— Alyse LaHue (@alahue) January 3, 2013
Alyse LaHue just happens to be the general manager of fellow NWSL club Chicago Red Stars.
And the numbers are certainly growing, Timbers/Thorns FC owner and president Merritt Paulson had this Twitter update earlier today:
Your unofficial @thornsfc Season Tix deposit tracker: 3,500+. that's w/o players & pricing announced (hopefully both will elicit increase..)
— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) January 3, 2013
In it together, indeed.
Want to make your own Thorns FC season ticket deposit? Details right here.
Liviu Bird of EqualizerSoccer.com--one of the best sources for women's soccer news and content that you should now bookmark--tracked down U.S. women's national team coaching legend Tony DiCicco to ask him a few questions about his former player and now new Thorns FC head coach Cindy Parlow Cone.
“She was a student of the game as a player,” former national team head coach Tony DiCicco said in a phone interview. “It’s awesome to have her get this chance. I think she’ll learn a lot, and I think she’ll be really good.”
DiCicco expects Parlow Cone’s learning curve to be short in the new league.
“I think you’ll find that she’ll play a possession style,” he said. “I think you’ll see some of the UNC aggressiveness in her coaching.”
DiCicco is a pretty good authority having led the USWNT to their famous World Cup triumph in 1999--a team Parlow was a key member of.
Bonus tidbit: DiCicco described the first time he and his assistant, and UNC legend Anson Dorrance brought Parlow into national team camp, in 1994. She was training with the U16 national team, and the coaches thought, “Hey, let’s bring that tall, red-headed kid in here. She looks like a player,” DiCicco recalled.