It’s only been in the last few games that the Dash players have been signing autographs, but I have noticed that it has made a huge change in not only the visiting spectators but in the players themselves. We were notified before the WNY Flash game on the 5th that the players were going to be going around the field and signing autographs and as the final whistle blew crowds began to collect around the front rows. There were only a handful of people who remained but as promised the Dash players remained on the field. Though the game ended in a loss, the players put their happy faces on and walked the length of the sideline signing shirts and programs of everyone who stood patiently waiting. They listened as fans told them how much they were appreciated and loved regardless of losing the game and posed for pictures even taking the cameras and phones of fans to take selfies with the loyal spectators. One by one they attended to everyone who remained and as the field cleared and the stands emptied I watched the demeanor of the girls on the field change. Their spirits lifted as the love and support lingered.
The next game scheduled was against the Boston Breakers and again we were told the girls were going to stay and sign autographs. Boston took a 4th minute lead and without missing a beat the stands rallied behind the Dash with cheers of encouragement and belief. Shouts of Let’s Go Dash and Forever Orange echoed through the stadium with a few Boston Sucks thrown in and through two amazing Kealia Ohai goals and some last minute spectacular saves from goalkeeper Erin McLeod, the Dash came back to win 2-1. The final whistle blew and again the crowds began to line the front rows of the stands. The players began signing and taking pictures with their adoring fans. Even our newest player Melissa Henderson was shown love and gave it back! They addressed every last fan. After the signatures were given and the pictures were taken, the team left the field and I watched as the girls showed each other their shirts and posters giggling about which players was their favorite and a little boy held up a signed ball saying “They are all my favorite.”
Even though it’s only been two games, I’ve seen the change – not only in the fans and their support, but in the players. Knowing you have someone behind you cheering you on and telling you that it’s OK if you lose and how amazing you are when you win takes the sting out of the loss and makes the win so much sweeter. Being a fan means so much to the fan but it means everything to the players! There is a reason they call it home field advantage!