Interview: Kelsey Davis

I don’t think it’s a big secret that Ruth and I really like Kelsey Davis.  We’ve mentioned it before on the blog and possibly in every episode of our podcast.  When the opportunity to talk to Kelsey came up, we jumped on it, and I worked through the night to make the episode available for you today

Kelsey Davis (Photo by ohhh_yeah80)

Kelsey had a lot to say about the 2006 US team that competed in the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Russia, which is a particular topic of interest to Ruth and I, and what she said about that team and the coach surprised me.

In a Bleacher Report interview, Kelsey discusses some of her charitable work with the Ronald McDonald House, and we talked with her about that as well. Since the end of the season, she’s worked with teammate Natalie Spilger’s GreenLaces.

Kelsey was a Theology major at Portland, and she explained her interest in the topic quite passionately and eloquently.  Speaking personally, I think I could have asked her to keep talking about religious writers for a good hour.

It’s rare to have an engaging conversation about so many interesting topics with someone you admire. Talking with Kelsey was a real honor and a pleasure and I hope we get to do it again.

Kelsey on Twitter.

Writers mentioned in the interview:
Thomas Merton
Wendell Berry
Brennan Manning
Anne Lamott
Henri Nouwen
Jay Bakker
C.S. Lewis
St. Augustine
Julian of Norwich
(my small plug for David Dark)

Cross-Conference ‘Cast – Episode 09 – No Touching!

New Episode! We recorded mere hours before the Sky Blue FC coaching change, which actually doesn’t matter considering our general apathy towards the orange.

My co-editor is on vacation, living the life of the rich elite on the East coast, while I toil in middle America. All of this was made very clear in the hour we discussed:

  • WPS Action, including Ashlyn Harris’ coaching debut, Boston’s turnaround, and FCGP’s meteoric… extended stay at the top.
  • USWNT’s two games against Sweden.
  • U20 WWC and how much we looooooooove Mexico <3 <3 <3
  • Shek Borkowski leaves Zvezda
  • W-League update! Pali survived!
  • Utah does a scarf thing.
  • Kelsey Davis wins our award.

If we give it time, it will make itself known to us.

So, a really great PitchInvasion profiled former Portland Pilot and current Chicago Red Stars goalkeeper Kelsey Davis. The article touched on a lot of things that I think are relevant to both women’s sports and soccer fans, as my cohort has mentioned. Yet you wouldn’t really know it by taking a gander at the higher-profile women’s sports blogs. Andrew Guest obviously understands a lot about soccer and college athletics and was also well-read enough to pick out a Merton quote which I believe was the driving force behind the most interesting part of the article.

Plenty of bloggers want to jump on an athlete when they cite faith as a motivating factor for almost anything.  They seemed particularly gleeful at tearing Tim Tebow apart for his Focus on the Family-funded ad. (As a disclaimer: I dislike both football and FotF.  Both have deceiving names, to different, somewhat negative ends) Yet when a great article (both for writing and the athlete it profiles) appears and the athlete is at once intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate, generous and religious?  Heaven forbid we make note of it.

I’m not going to pass judgement on this… non-practice?  In fact, I could be entirely off-base, but I felt it worth mentioning.

(As a personal aside, I’ve been lucky enough seen Kelsey Davis play in person. For someone so kind, she is pretty terrifying in front of the goal. As she was shouting direction at her defenders, I overheard opposing team fans say, “Is THAT their goalkeeper?”  You couldn’t hear anyone else in that stadium as clearly as Davis.)

The smaller the story, the more it means.

Since writing my research proposal last semester, I have been meaning to get my hands on some writing by Georgakopoulou regarding “small stories” or narratives. Last year was perfect for looking at the construction and ownership of narratives in women’s soccer. I could go on at length at how angry ESPN’s approach to college soccer made me, but that is too easy and unproductive. A more fascinating and educational analysis would look at Cal Berkeley, but that takes me tangentially to the WPS, which I think can take a lot of credit for pushing the diversity of narratives across various levels of the sport.

I remind myself that, as a responsible academic, I still need to question the filters and PR at work here. Choices are always being made, and agendas are always at work. But sometimes, it’s important to be positive, to look at and encourage (and celebrate) the progress. In feminist/action research, you acknowledge that you are approaching your studies with a bias and intent. It’s a balancing act. I don’t claim that this blog is anything so formal as those labels, but I do acknowledge that I know I have bias and intent. I do try to balance.

I also get really, really excited sometimes and put off the “hard” questions so I can just enjoy media that brings out the fangirl in me.  Nearly a week later, Pitch Invasion’s article on Kelsey Davis still does this for me. This is partly because I really, really like Kelsey Davis–even though she transferred from UCLA to a team that rivals mine, then was drafted by Chicago (again, not my team). I genuinely enjoy what this athlete brings to the sport, both on the field and off. But this entry is not an encomium of Davis.

So the other reason I am so excited over this article is that, to me, it pings on my narrative radar. These are not canned responses and this article is not canned writing–both of which smack of filtering and outside control. There are different threads in this piece: Kelsey Davis, Davis as a student, Davis as a daughter, Davis as a person, Davis as a developing athlete, Andrew Guest, Guest as a fan of soccer, Guest as an academic, Guest as a person. This is an instance where the writer and the subject seem to be giving equally to the piece in a way that speaks not only about themselves, but about this sport and how this level of this sport at this moment in time has something to say about the sport and society.

I get that Tobin Heath was the number one draft pick, that Amy Rodriguez won a gold medal, that Yael Averbuch trains hard and is going to Algarve. I hear that there is this amazing player named Marta, and apparently she’s won some awards and gets paid more than anyone else in the league. I have yet to see anyone care so much about what those players bring to the sport, or give such thought and consideration to their narratives and how they embody what there is to love about soccer.

This level of caring, this depth of character, this degree of relevance and willingness to share that narrative  is something to strive for. That is part of the beautiful game, too.