The Glow of Minnesota Aurora and its Revontulet Supporters

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On the afternoon I made the trek from my home in Madison up to the Twin Cities to see Minnesota Aurora FC for the first time, I received an alert that the news, rumored to be happening for months, was coming to fruition: The Conservative-led Supreme Court of the United States was overturning Roe v. Wade, effectively banning abortion and a woman’s right to choose, almost immediately.

Aside from the anger and disgust I felt, my thoughts also drifted to my 16-year-old daughter, who is growing up in a time when more and more of her rights are being stripped away by old, white men, and how powerless I felt, despite my numerous efforts over the years to prevent it from happening. Thus, when I arrived at TCO Stadium in Eagan, I was not surprised at the demure mood that seemed to hang amidst the Minnesota summer air and was written all over the faces of the fans of the area’s womens’ soccer team.

Yet, as I sat down for pre-match conversation with a board member from Aurora’s supporter group, Revontulet, she remained positive.

“Hey…we have two hours to celebrate women,” said Melanie Birke. “And we can do so by supporting powerful women who are doing their thing.” Aurora has been doing it damn well, too. At the time of publication, they are still unbeaten and are preparing for a chance to clinch their spot in the USL W League final in the league’s inaugural season. 

So, despite my skepticism, I made my way into the Minnesota Aurora stadium and almost immediately began to find myself elevated by what I observed. There were all types in attendance: women, men, children, straight, gay, queer, trans, it didn’t matter. It was as if a cross-section of the Twin Cities had all decided to descend on TCO Stadium and stage their own protest against the news of the day and do so through the beautiful lens of soccer.

As Revontulet started up the flags, drums, and chants from their perch in Section 121, the morose mood that I saw outside of the stadium had evaporated and was now a raucous, energized crowd of six thousand people.

That’s right. Six thousand.

Minnesota Aurora TCO Stadium

But perhaps the coolest thing about those six thousand people? I went around and randomly asked people if they had any experience attending soccer matches before Minnesota Aurora. Close to half of the almost 100 people I talked to stated that seeing Aurora or coming to be a part of Revontulet was their first initiation into the sport.

“We’re trying to build something that’s women led and fully inclusive,” shared Melanie. “You don’t have to have experience in a supporters group or know much about soccer to participate in Revontulet. I sure didn’t.”

Further to that point, the more people in Revontulet that I talked to, the more they seemed to stress this is the method and approach they want. They are purposely trying to create something that is free from the structure or oversight that often is prevalent in some many other supporter groups around the country.

Added Melanie, “We’re at the ground level. If you have an opportunity to see what you would like to do or would like to get something that needs to get done, (here) you can just run with it and get it done.” 

While some die-hard soccer fans may shy away or scoff at such an approach, for the fans in Revontulet, it looks to be working. They even are pulling some of the die-hards from Minnesota United FC’s supporter groups Dark Clouds, True North Elite, Buckethat Brigade and Thunderwall into the fray, whether to be a part of what Revontulet is doing both on and off the pitch or to just be a fan, hoping their desire for a new approach will lead to passionate, engaged fanbase.

For Aurora fan and Revontulet member, Jens Selin, who was born in Norway and proudly stated that soccer is “in his blood,” he couldn’t agree more with what Revontulet is doing. “The chants, the flags, the drums, the noise,” he stated, “That’s what soccer should be…it’s what it is.”

When I asked Jens about the free-form makeup of the group, he also agreed that for where Revontulet and Minnesota Aurora are, it’s the correct approach. “Being the first season, they can still figure it out as they go. Which is an advantage for them,” Jens said.

He continued, “They can grow die-hard fans this way as this may be their first introduction into soccer…and the best way to maintain success both on and off the field is through the fanbase.” 

A fanbase born of a Finnish word for “Fox’s Fires,” the Revontulet supporters group is already raising the bar in U.S. soccer.

The Finnish believed that light would reflect off this mythical firefox’s fur, thus creating the Northern Lights. The Aurora’s Revontulet, as mentioned above, are coming from all corners of the Twin Cities’ landscape, helping to create amazing scenes and energy within TCO stadium for the players on the pitch who, based on their success, seem to be feeding off it, as well. The large numbers of young people in attendance, whether in the stands or on the field, bode well for the future and speak to developing the die-hards that Jens spoke of.

Minnesota Aurora

But perhaps, most paramount, is what Aurora and Revontulet can symbolize and, unequivocally, are putting on display every match: They can be a symbol of everything that is still resilient, benevolent, and powerful about women, all people, and our society, despite the dark forces of life doing their best to extinguish the light that burns inside each and every one of us.

Melanie concluded, “Anybody that’s willing to come over and sing and cheer with us, we will have open arms for them.”

By creating this environment that is inclusive, warm, and bright, Revontulet is reflecting the collective light of their group not only on to a continuously sold-out TCO Stadium, but onto the community itself. An illuminating beacon which is calling people not only to action but to a place we all long for – home. 

Glow on, Revontulet…glow on.