Thorns Fans in Candada

Thorns FC fan winners take in sights, sounds of 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Vancouver

Tiffany Mapes never thought that she would actually see the 2015 Women’s World Cup in person. She thought that she would be watching the action, like the rest of the world, on television. And, when the chance to win tickets from Portland Thorns FC Facebook page to see two Women's World Cup matches in Canada, Mapes never thought she would be the one to win.

"I freaked out!" she said. "You know when you put your name into things you never think you're going to get it. I was like, 'What?' Then all of a sudden it hit me like, 'Oh my gosh! Now we have three days to plan and go to the World Cup!'"

Mapes and some of her colleagues at Soccer Shots Portland joked about winning the contest, but they never imagined that it might happen. Little did they know that Mapes's boss, Joel Newman, had nominated both Mapes and her colleague for the tickets.

"These two women have literally impacted hundreds and hundreds of local children, by being not just great coaches, but great role models," wrote Newman on the Thorns FC Facebook page. "If these ladies got to go, I know it would be something they remember forever and use as fuel every time they go out to coach and inspire the next generation."

After learning they had won the tickets, Mapes and another of her Soccer Shots colleagues, Leslie Christine, quickly booked a flight to Vancouver and were off on their adventure.

"We got on the plane and I just screamed before we took off: 'U-S-A! U-S-A!' We were totally decked out and everyone on the plane was laughing," Mapes recalled.

When the two arrived in Vancouver, they quickly discovered that thousands of other fans, some of them from all over the world, had converged there to watch their nations' teams in the World Cup.

"[Leslie] and I had a contest to see how many people we could meet from different places all around the world," Mapes said. "The first day, we probably had 25 different countries and [met people from] all around the nation. It was really cool to see the support for the U.S. [and] for all the other teams."

The pair also discovered that Canadians really do live up to their reputation for polite hospitality.

"The Canadians and the locals were so friendly," Mapes said. "We would pull out our map and before we would even ask a question or look up to ask for help we would have three or four people who would come over and [ask], 'What are you guys looking for? How can we help you?'"

Mapes, who attended the Japan vs. Cameroon and Switzerland vs. Ecuador matches, described the atmosphere at those games as a happy environment.

"Everyone just sat there cheering for the underdog. People were there to watch soccer. People were there to support. It was very positive. No one was booing. No one was being negative."

Most impressively, she says, many of the people that they met -- people from all over the world -- knew where Portland was and knew about the Thorns.

"I'd say every four to five hours we would run into another person that was wearing Timbers or Thorns gear," she noted.

The best part, though, was the soccer.

"Obviously being there at the World Cup," Mapes said. "You can't beat that. Being in the stands, watching what I usually watch on TV live in front of my face was beyond cool."