Under the bright midday California sun in late March, San Diego Wave supporters gathered in the east end of Torero Stadium for what would be a day full of firsts.
Mike and Troy climbed the scaffolding to hoist a banner denoting the supporter’s section, affectionately known as “The Cove.”
Googie scanned the area for old zip ties and tape to secure another banner to the front of the Section 109 railing.
Sarah and Jenn laid out brightly-colored ribbons on the bleachers after hanging the group’s transgender and pride flags.
Kickoff was still hours away but for this small crew from the Sirens supporters group, all their hard work had been building to this moment.
Before gates opened. Before most of the stadium staff was even inside. The Sirens supporters group were finally together inside their new home.
Their excitement was unmistakable.
Every few minutes, in between troubleshooting the usual issues that all new supporter groups face, the group would pause to soak in the energy of the empty stadium. Sometimes they snapped the occasional photo and other times they simply flashed a smile at one another as a way of saying, “Can you believe this is actually happening?!?”
Two years ago, San Diegans were thrilled to find out that a new NWSL team was coming to Southern California. At the time, Los Angeles’ Angel City FC rolled out with tons of fanfare, and women’s soccer supporters all across San Diego quickly bought in. It didn’t matter that they would have to drive two hours to watch the team, they were just happy to have something closer to home.
Then a little over a year later, things got even better when NWSL announced that San Diego would be the latest city to join the women’s pro soccer ranks.
In fact, had the San Diego NWSL announcement come just a few weeks later in 2021, there may currently be a few Sirens supporters with some mixed (…and permanent) allegiances.
Michael Mock has lived in San Diego since he was three and has been an NWSL supporter since the early days of the league. When Angel City FC was announced, he was thrilled to have an NWSL team closer to home that he could support and he was quick to join one of the Los Angeles supporter groups. In the weeks leading up to the Angel City FC crest reveal, Michael was already thinking about unique ways to show his support. And naturally, a tattoo was one of his first thoughts.
“It’s funny to think about it now but there could have been a world where I have an Angel City tattoo as a San Diego Wave supporters,” joked Michael.
Fortunately for Michael, the NWSL San Diego announcement happened a few weeks before Angel City FC rolled out its brand design. And by that time, Michael had already shifted his plans to get a tattoo of the team located even closer to his home.
Today, Michael and his blue and pink tattoo can be seen alongside his fellow Sirens supporter group members in Section 109, all of whom have been working at lightning speed in the run-up to the 2022 season.
While most supporter groups and soccer clubs, such as their friends Angel City FC to the north, have a couple of years to prepare for an inaugural season, the supporters in San Diego were racing against the clock from day one.
“Since it has been such a short amount of time to build the supporter culture, we have been reaching out to anyone and everyone in our circles – neighbors, colleagues, family members,” explained Googie Daniels, President & Director of Public Relations for the Sirens supporters group.
When asked why “Sirens,” the group is quick to point out the mythology behind the creature.
Shared Googie, “The hybrid nature of a Siren speaks to what we want to build here in San Diego. We Sirens can be many things. We can be fierce, we can be sassy, we can be sultry, and we can be fun.”
Fellow Sirens leadership member Sara Pianavilla added, “We want to represent San Diego as best we can, and that means creating a culture that is not just inclusive but accessible.”
That inclusivity also extends north, in what might seem unusual to many global soccer fans.
“The camaraderie across clubs is one of the main differences when it comes to women’s soccer,” noted Jenn Ford. “As soon as we started the Sirens, the supporters from Angel City reached out to us to share supplies and resources.”
For supporters in both Los Angeles and San Diego, they see this season as a win-win for both the region and the sport.
“It’s magic here,” shared Troy Ford, the creative mind behind the Sirens logo. “This region has such a great history of soccer players and teams, and there are a lot of people in the area that maybe don’t play anymore but still want to stay connected to the game.”
San Diego Wave supporters drove two hours north for the Angel City FC home opener, and many Angel City fans did the same to attend the sellout match for San Diego’s first home game. So while it may seem odd, the cross-supporter connection just might be why the NWSL is one of the fastest-growing leagues in the world.
Said Googie, “We’re all winning here. We’re all here to support this game and support these women.”