The Columbus Crew is Family
by Melinda Soderberg
How did I become a Crew fan? Where do I even start? I have grown up with the Columbus Crew, or in a sense, the Columbus Crew has grown up with me. I went from watching the team play in a college football stadium as a seven year old — unsure how soccer would sit with the Columbus community so heavily invested in Ohio State — to sitting at Columbus Crew Stadium in 2018, 22 seasons later. I was along for the ride with everything in between.
Soccer has been a part of my life since the early days, when all I wanted to do was the same thing my older brothers were doing. Growing up, we spent weekends playing soccer at the local park in the recreation leagues around town and then quickly moved on to Club soccer as we got older and the Club scene began to expand rapidly in the city. Around that same time, when my siblings and I were becoming 100% invested in soccer as our do or die sport as a child, the Columbus Crew and MLS made its debut in our hometown of Columbus, Ohio.
After attending my first game at Ohio stadium, my love for the team took off, becoming a shared passion between me, my two older brothers, and parents. Going to games at the then Columbus Crew Stadium as a kid was what I looked forward to each week. My whole family went together, making it our big outing on the weekends when there were home games, and watching together as a family when the team was playing away. We spent countless hours together at the stadium and attended any other soccer event that came to Columbus. I still remember getting to meet Brian McBride at the MLS all star game in 2000, when I couldn’t even speak because I definitely had a crush on him as a ten year old.
After growing up going to games, I graduated high school and headed to Ohio State for college. And what a great four years it was, full of excitement and new experiences. But one of the best memories of those four years, was living on 17th Ave, watching all the Black and Gold stream down the street to the stadium on game days, being able to make the short walk to Fourth Street for Pre-games, and heading to the stadium to fill my weekends. I was able to bring all my new friends I had made in college and introduce them to my family at tailgates and my love for the sport of soccer. I even brought my “new” boyfriend at the time a game to meet friends and family for the first time. He must have gotten hooked, because he came back to our crazy tailgates, and we eventually got married.
Over the years, the parking lot of Columbus Crew Stadium became my home away from home, and a place where my family could gather and catch up. Instead of Sunday family dinners, my family does Saturday Crew games. We tailgate together, travel to away games together, and have watched countless games being played in other cities on TV together. While in college and then later when I started working, I didn’t visit home or my older brothers often, but I always know that I am able to see my family and catch up at the next Crew home game. We have shared and grown our love for soccer and this team together, from the very beginning, and I hope to introduce my kids to the same thing.
The Columbus Crew is not just a sports team for me and my family. It’s a way to bond, to spend time together, and to share in all of the amazing memories that the team have brought to Columbus.