“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;”
Thus spoke the famous words of a love-struck Juliet as she pined for her Romeo in Shakespeare’s famous play. In the Rose City, the phrase, “By Any Other Name” was adopted by supporters of Portland Thorns FC to represent the spirit of the team and the club. As Juliet points out, it’s not the name that should matter, it’s what’s inside that counts.” And so too with the Thorns.
This year, to expand on this idea, we've had Germany Women’s National Team legend and Thorns FC goalkeeping coach Nadine Angerer do a series of interviews with players to hear more about who they are in their words, what inspires them, and where their personal stories lead.
But we also want to hear your story.
In this installment, Angerer sits down with defender Emily Menges who was a teammate of Nadine's in Portland from 2014-2015.
NADINE ANGERER: Are you a messy person or not?
EMILY MENGES: Okay. I feel like that’s a leading question. How do I answer to that? I have a lot of clutter. I tend to hoard. I don’t like to throw things out but the way that we live – I change apartments every six months – I have to clean out stuff. But if you walked into my apartment you would say no, I’m a messy person. Although I will dump a lot of the blame on Michelle [Betos, my roommate].
ANGERER: Exactly. Good answer. Would you describe yourself as an active person or very boring person?
MENGES: Also leading. I’m not boring. I like to do a lot of things outdoors. In the offseason, I did almost everything that I could think of to do in Oregon.
ANGERER: Can you describe that, please, with a little more detail?
MENGES: So Kat [Williamson] and I borrowed a tent from a few of our friends and we went camping a few nights. Amateur camping. We used a lot of Duraflame. And I went on a ton of hikes. What else? Went to the beach. I like to hang out at the beach even in the winter. That’s my favorite thing, snow on the beach.
ANGERER: Okay. Would you prefer summertime on the beach or going to the mountains? Are you more a beach person or more a mountain person?
MENGES: I love summer so much because it’s so relaxing. I’m actually way more active in the winter, besides for soccer. But in the summer, I could lie on the beach all day, every day. But in winter… Oh, I don’t know. I think I’d prefer a day of snowboarding over a day lying on a beach.
ANGERER: Okay. So that describes you as an active person.
ANGERER: Would you say you were more of a TV watcher or do you prefer to read?
MENGES: I like to read a lot. The only TV I watch is when I have to unwind. So I’ll watch a show that I’ve watched a million times. Like, I don’t start new shows. I can’t focus on new shows. So I’ll watch a ton of Friends, and I watch a ton of repeat episodes that I’ve already seen. But I do. I like to read more.
ANGERER: I agree. You’re always reading. Would you like to write a book?
MENGES: I feel like you know the answer to that.
ANGERER: I'd still like to know more.
MENGES: I’m in the process of writing a book right now. A few girls on the team and a few other girls that we’ve gotten to know around Portland/have been on the team in the past, have formed a writing guild just to keep each other accountable, because Kendall [Johnson] likes to write and a few other girls that we’re friends with. We all bounce ideas off each other and help each other stay accountable and we meet every so often. But right now I’m working on a book.
ANGERER: Where do you meet? In a literal café where you can talk about books, or do you just go and meet at home somewhere?
MENGES: Coffee shops.
ANGERER: And then you discuss about your books.
MENGES: Yup. What we’re doing. What we want to accomplish the next week. What our ideas are. If we need help editing. If we need help with ideas.
ANGERER: Can you tell what the book is about?
MENGES: My book?
MENGES: When you finish reading my book I want you to understand, as the reader, that no one does anything for no reason. Like, everyone has a motive behind doing something. Whether it’s to protect themselves, to protect people they love, whatever it is. Everyone has a motive for doing something. So if I seem to you like I’m being a jerk, I have a reason for being a jerk. And probably I’m justifying that reason in some way, and I’m probably doing it for some better cause.
So it’s more of a perspective book to understand. There’s a ton of characters and they’re all written from all different points of view. And so you follow one character at a time and you realize that everyone has their own life. That they have as many experiences, as many emotions, as many "everything" as the next person does. And everyone’s life is just as meaningful to that person and to a lot of people as yours is to the people around you.
ANGERER: That’s very deep, and I like it. But do you get some of your experience because of soccer? Because it’s also in a team. It’s like a special environment?
MENGES: Yeah. I would definitely say so. Especially in a team, you tend to be closer to some people on the field, and then off the field you’re closer to other people. You find interests and little niches with different groups of people on your team, which is like a mini-society basically. And it’s interesting because you just get to know everybody in all different ways. Absolutely. I mean my book is nothing about soccer and…
ANGERER: Yeah. That’s what I mean.
MENGES: … it doesn’t have anything to do with sports, but it does give you perspective and you learn things about people that you wouldn’t necessarily know about them.
ANGERER: Very interesting. Coming back to soccer now. It’s your third season here. What’s your time here been like?
MENGES: The best. I mean, I can’t imagine if I were anywhere else that it would be better than this. This is the best experience, the best everything around soccer. On the field, off the field. Fans, coaches, teammates. Like the best we could have gotten. It’s the best experience I could have even imagined. It continues to surprise me.
ANGERER: And did you feel that you developed as a player as well over the last few years?
MENGES: Yes. I think I definitely have. I mean, just playing with certain players and being surrounded by better players constantly, you can’t not evolve in this league. Yes, definitely as a player and now with a new coach and getting a different perspective on things that I’m learning. It’s so interesting how much you can still learn and develop.
ANGERER: Do you think it’s a big step from college to the NWSL?
MENGES: Yes. In college, I could rely on athleticism and here you can’t. And I definitely, especially my first year, tried and you just can’t. You have to be a better soccer player. You can’t just…
MENGES: … run fast. [laughter] You can’t because sometimes…
ANGERER: Because everybody’s fast in this league.
MENGES: Yeah. Everyone’s stronger. Everyone’s taller. Everyone’s faster.
ANGERER: What would you say are your strengths on the field?
MENGES: I think my speed does bring a lot to my game, especially defensively where I like to play my line and how I like to defend 1v1. I think I’ve gotten better at communicating to players in front of me, which is something I just never did.
ANGERER: But don’t you think this has something to do with more self-confidence because you improved?
MENGES: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. And knowing what the players around me want and need. And especially with a player like Allie [Long], who I’ve now played behind for three years. I feel comfortable with her on the field right now just because I’ve played with her and I know exactly what she wants.
We even had a conversation today. She was like, “I know there’s one time in Seattle I yelled at you—yelled for the ball when you couldn’t get it to me.” I was like, “That’s fine. I like knowing where you are at all times.” Even if I’m going to play it this way, I like to know where you are and that you’re an option and that you’re there.
ANGERER: And when you first came to the Thorns as a rookie, did you feel support from the more experienced players here?
MENGES: Oh, yeah.
MENGES: Are you fishing for compliments?
ANGERER: No. I mean, they’re all… You’re surrounded by good players.
MENGES: Absolutely. Well yeah, Sinc obviously. She’s supportive to everyone and just like the ultimate example of leading by example and actions. Whereas when I came in and with Rachel and Nikki Marshall and players like that – veteran players who were playing my position – we were all fighting for two positions. But they were so supportive and would watch film with me. People who, if there were times when they saw that maybe I wasn’t getting something right, I was struggling with something that had happened in a game, they would come and ask, “Do you want to watch film? Do you want to go over this? Do you understand why these players are saying this?”
And still now, everyone just wants the team to win. It’s such a great environment because it’s not about the individual, it’s about the team. And everybody just at the end of the day wants the team to be successful.
ANGERER: Yes. But it’s not in every club like this, I tell you.
ANGERER: I know this. Trust me.
MENGES: I mean, it wasn’t like that in my college. This is… It’s a great place.
ANGERER: What is crafting?
MENGES: Arts and crafts?
ANGERER: Can you describe to me, for someone who doesn't know, what arts and craft means and why you like it?
MENGES: I love arts and crafts. Where did you find out that I like arts and crafts?
ANGERER: I’m very informed.
MENGES: Okay. I do like arts and crafts.
ANGERER: Which kind?
MENGES: I like to make scrapbooks, although I’ve never completed one. I like attempting to scrapbook and doing different things with that kind of… Do you know what scrapbooking is?
MENGES: It’s like when you take pictures, you print out pictures and you put them on pages, but you put designs around it and cool things.
ANGERER: Okay. Yeah.
MENGES: I’ll make you one.
I like making bracelets with… I like beads a lot. I have a thing for beads. I like to paint. I’m terrible at painting.
ANGERER: But do you think painting has something to do with meditation?
MENGES: Oh, yeah. I don’t do it for like the looks. I thought I liked coloring. I bought one of those grown up coloring books, I hated it. It’s… Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you seen it?
ANGERER: No, no.
MENGES: They’re so intricate, and you have to sharpen your pencil every two seconds. And it stresses me out because I can’t finish it. And it stresses me out because the colors never look as good as it did on the front, and it’s hard to stay in the lines. I just don’t like it so I gave that up.
ANGERER: Okay. And when are you doing your crafts? During the season? You have so many things to do.
MENGES: Yeah, sometimes during the season. I mean, I have a whole box/bag of just arts and crafts stuff. I love Michael’s. It’s my favorite store. And I’ll go and get a canvas, and then I have all my paints at home. And then I sometimes just leave the canvas in the garbage area, because I don’t actually want it. I don’t know what to do with it. Me and Michelle tried to sell our painting online once but…
ANGERER: No one bought it?
MENGES: We’re not that good.
ANGERER: Why am I not surprised? Anyway, what are your favorite places in Portland?
MENGES: I have a friend in town and I just made a list for her of all the places I love. On a day-to-day basis, I love Northwest Coffee. I love Elephant’s Deli. I would go to Por Que No every night if I could. And any pizza place. I’ve been to a lot of pizza places in Portland.
ANGERER: Cibo? Do you know Cibo?
ANGERER: See. That’s a pizza place. Sinclair and I went there.
MENGES: No, I’ve never been there.
ANGERER: You have to cut the pizzas with a pair scissors.
MENGES: Oh, that’s weird.
ANGERER: It’s good. Trust me, it’s really good.
MENGES: I love Oven & Shaker. Love Sizzle Pie because it’s so easy. Yeah. I love Life of Pie. Also good. Just went there for the first time. Pizza is my favorite food.
ANGERER: Would you say you’re a good cook?
I make cheese and crackers. If it’s more than three steps, it’s cooking. I can make a bowl of cereal. Quesadillas, I’m a good quesadilla maker. Everything else…
ANGERER: So Michelle is going to cook for you because you’re sharing a house with her?
ANGERER: Okay, good. Then I know that you are in good hands.