Ken and Deanna Puls from Vancouver Island, B.C., jumped on the rare opportunity to create the surprise of a lifetime when they saw an update on Thorns FC’s Facebook page: a Stand Together Online Auction item that included tickets to the recent July 28 Thorns FC match, a Canada National Team jersey signed by Christine Sinclair and a chance to meet the world-class forward post-game at JELD-WEN Field.
Annika, their daughter, and Claire, a close friend, live and breathe soccer. They play for a soccer team called, “The Angry Jellybeans,” in Nanaimo (on Vancouver Island) and Annika wears the number 12, like Sinclair. The two girls catch every Thorns FC webstream and watch the Canada Women’s National Team play as much as possible.
After winning the once-in-a-lifetime experience, Ken and Deanna told the girls they were going on a camping trip to Manning Park and were to enter through the United States. What the girls didn’t know that they were actually venturing down to Soccer City, USA, for not only a Thorns FC match, but to meet their idol, Christine Sinclair.
The road trip began with excitement around their upcoming voyage in nature. But at the border, Ken and Deanna had to inform the border patrol of their destination.
“The girls’ jaws hit the ground and the squeals started,” said Deanna. “Even the border guards thought their reaction was hilarious! So for the next few hours, all we heard about was every bit of trivia about the Thorns, Sinclair, etc.”
But the girls still only knew half the surprise.
When the squad arrived at JELD-WEN Field, the girls could not believe their eyes. Having only seen the stadium through webstream, they could not believe they were physically there. After visiting the team store, grabbing a hot dog and enjoying the atmosphere, they settled in for the match.
At the 80th minute, the girls finally heard the rest of the surprise – they were to meet Sinclair on the field after the match. Their jaws dropped once more and their smiles and jumping explained it all. As they travelled down to the field to meet Sinclair, they were giddy and talkative, even revealing they may pee their pants. When Sinclair came over to say hello they were speechless, a rare feat for these two girls. After a few minutes with Sinclair, talking with her about their love for soccer, and getting their jerseys signed, Annika and Claire suggested they would never wash the jerseys, or their shoulders, ever again.
Deanna recounted that back at the hotel, the girls kept commenting that it “was the best surprise and the best weekend of their life.”
“I can't believe I met Christine Sinclair … she patted my back like this, but she did it better,” said Annika, as she patted her mother on the back, reenacting the moment.
Claire replied, “Yeah. She does everything better - she's Christine Sinclair."