Editor’s Note: 2015 is a dual anniversary for the Portland Timbers as the club is celebrating its 40th year as an organization as well as its 5th year in Major League Soccer.
Back in 2010, the team launched a series of billboards on the sides of buildings, at the ends of bridges, and across the city featuring some of the Rose City’s soccer supporters and citizens. That was followed by a photo shoot open to all fans where individuals of all ages posed with axes, chainsaws, scarves and more.
Now heading into the club’s 5th MLS season, the Timbers are bringing the campaign back.
On February 6 and 7 from 10 am to 6 pm as well as February 14 from 10 am to 6 pm and February 15 from 11 am to 5 pm, fans can come to Providence Park to get a new portrait taken.
What’s changed for you in the last five years? We reached out to a number of Timbers supporters from both the billboards and fan shoot in 2010 to hear more about how their Timbers fandom has deepened. - BC
Sometimes you don't choose the team that you support; sometimes, the team chooses you.
For Katie Harris Carter, a transplant from Southern California, picking up and moving from sunny California to the Pacific Northwest had its difficulties.
After a few years of living in Portland, Harris Carter recalls that she still hadn't made many friends. She hadn't yet integrated into the community.
But there was one thing that Harris Carter had been curious about from the moment she arrived: the Portland Timbers.
She had heard people talking about Portland as "Soccer City, USA" and, her curiosity piqued, the former soccer player and one-time Galaxy fan decided to look into what the fuss was all about.
- AXE REWIND: Billboard icon Eugénie Frerichs five years later
Before the inaugural season kicked off, Harris Carter and her young son decided to participate in the Rose City scavenger hunt. At the time, Harris Carter didn't have a smartphone, so she and her son did their best to find the clues online before driving all around the city to find the roses.
One day, while standing and looking around for a rose at Laurelhurst Park, she saw someone else appearing to do the same. In true Portland fashion, Harris Carter walked right up to the fellow scavenger and asked:"You're looking for a rose, aren't you?"
The pair shook hands and introduced themselves and that, it seemed, was that.
But a few days later, while driving around the city, Harris Carter glanced up at one of the billboards lining the road and saw a familiar face. "What the heck! It's that guy from the park!" she thought to herself.
Eventually, Harris Carter put the pieces together and discovered that her mystery man was none other than 107ist board member and billboard star Fernando Machicado. She immediately reached out to Machicado and asked him how she could get more involved with the team.
Soon enough, Harris Carter found herself downtown, having her photograph taken as part of the Timbers Fan/Axe campaign.
At first, however, Harris Carter felt embarrassed.
"It felt kind of strange because I'm not a walking Timbers encyclopedia," she explained with a laugh. "I haven't been a fan as long as ninety percent of the people around me. It was a little intimidating like, "Do I belong here?" But I knew I wanted to be involved, so I was like, "Yeah, screw it, I'll just go and I'll do it."
Her persistence paid off in a big way. Her photograph was liked nearly 200 times on Facebook and the first comment on the photo would make any Portland transplant proud: "Katie, you're more Portland than I'll ever be!"
Today, Harris Carter is as big a Timbers fan as ever. Not to be denied this time around, she even won the #Timbers14 scavenger hunt last season.
"I got so much flack from my friends and my family it was hysterical," she said. "They were like, 'You are crazy. What the hell are you doing?' I told them I was making up for lost time because I didn't have a smartphone back when I was trying to do the rose one and so I'm like, 'Now I've got a smartphone. So now I can do this thing. Not only can I do this thing, but I can win this thing!'"
Last season was also especially memorable because Harris Carter's son took her to the LA Galaxy home match as a Mother's Day gift.
After Robbie Keane scored a go-ahead goal in the second minute of stoppage time, Harris Carter said that the air seemed to have been sucked right out of the stadium. "It was like, 'Oh my gosh. we fought that hard,' she said. "It's like this deep, deep despair."
Then, three minutes later, Diego Valeri scored a dramatic equalizer that sent the fans at Providence Park into hysterics. "It was awesome. It was one of the most exciting moments of live soccer that I've been to and it was cool to be there with my son and have it be Mother's Day."
More than most teams, the Timbers make it easy for fans like Harris Carter -- fans who don't have season tickets -- to feel involved in the community.
"There's a million ways you can get involved in the Timbers and still feel like you're making an impact. You don't have to go to games to get involved. You can do things in your community. You can go to Timbers get togethers. You can go watch a game in a pub with a lot of people," Harris Carter said.
"It’s easy to stay connected."