Jen Hopkins, #Timbers540

Axe Rewind: For Jen Hopkins, attending Portland Timbers games is an important family affair

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 brought the campaign back.

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

A mother stands with her youngest daughter grasped firmly in her left arm and her oldest daughter sitting atop her shoulders. Each one of them has one hand grasped on a two-headed axe. but while the mother smiles for the camera, her older daughter scrunches up her facial features in a look meant to intimidate.

The photo is a memorable one, but it's that face that you probably remember best. Yet according to the mother in the photo, Jennifer Hopkins, it almost didn't happen that way.

"When we first got up there, she was smiling," said Hopkins about her daughter Astrid, then just two-and-a-half years-old. "The photographer was trying to get a look a little more fierce and so we told her to make her pirate face."'

The final shot?

"That was her pirate face."

The photo of the Hopkins family blew up as soon as it was posted on Facebook. One fan described the photo as "quintessential Portland." When asked about what made her and her family "quintessential Portland," Hopkins pointed out the ways in which she believes that the city is changing.

"It's really shifting into a family city," she said. "There's a lot of people here, young people, people with families. Going to Timbers games, I see a lot of other people there with their children. It's one of the things here in Portland to go to the Timbers games with your family and get involved with the Timbers culture."

Since the photo shoot in 2011, Hopkins has gone back to work as an elementary school teacher. Her two daughters, Astrid and Margot, now four and six years-old, are both in school.

Soccer, however, remains an integral part of their lives.

Like some involved in the 2011 campaign, Hopkins and her family were only occasional Timbers supporters at the time. She had been to a few games here and there during the USL days, but she had never really committed to supporting the club. When the team joined MLS, though, Hopkins and her husband immediately bought season tickets.

Each year, the family eagerly anticipate the opening match of the new season. While they look forward to seeing their favorite team, they're also looking forward to seeing all of the friends they've made at Providence Park.

"It's a time when I can just socialize," Hopkins said of going to the games. "I also get to spend time with one of my kids, one on one, so it's great quality family time for us to spend as well."

The Hopkins family's love for soccer, though, goes beyond the Timbers.

This past summer, the family traveled down to Brazil for the World Cup. While they were only able to secure tickets for one match -- France versus Ecuador -- the family enjoyed spending time out on the beach, watching games in the fan zones, and soaking up the electric atmosphere of the world's biggest sporting event.

"It was amazing," Hopkins said. "It's unreal when you have 100,000 people in a stadium. Just the energy. There's people from all over the world just there to have a good time."

The family's soccer adventures have even taken them up to Seattle for several Timbers road games, which Hopkins says have been a blast.

"It's always fun. It's a lot of energy and excitement. It feels good to go and represent your team even though you're just this little pocket in the stadium there."

The photo shoot, which was the tipping point for the family's soccer fandom, ultimately remains something special for them.

"We have a little piece of our picture up on the wall in the stadium," Hopkins said. "I bring the kids to the games and we're able to go and take a look at it. They have the connection of belonging to that stadium. I guess it makes you feel like you're part of it a little bit more."