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From the Pitch – "Dear Mama"



From the Pitch contributors unite to pay tribute to the special moms in their lives

For those of us that don't write greeting cards for a living, it can be challenging to put into words just how much the special mother figures in our lives truly mean to us.

In honor of Mother's Day, we asked our From the Pitch contributors to give it their best shot, with a simple directive to speak from the heart.

And they delivered.



Neill Collins, Tampa Bay Rowdies

There are no words that can do justice to the support and encouragement my Mum has offered me throughout my career.

From the very start as a six year-old lad, 'till now as a 34 year-old man she has been an ever present figure.

Whether it’s been driving me to practise, looking after me when I’m injured or traveling the length and breadth of the country to watch me play, I always know I can rely on the unconditional support of my Mum.

Antoine Hoppenot, Reno 1868 FC

Merci Maman! (Thank you Mom.) My Mom has helped me grow throughout my life as both a human being and a player. Just by living the right way, she has instilled in me this hunger to never take a day off. Growing up, and even now, she is always there, always doing something to help my siblings and I, or someone else in need. This compassion and determination to continually have a positive effect on the world has created that same desire in me. Whether its on or off the soccer field, I always try to emulate how my Mom has lived throughout her life. She’s been an incredibly positive influence on everything I’ve done.



Christian Duke, Orange County SC

Throughout my career, my mom has been by my side every step of the way. She has been my toughest critic and my number one fan at the same time.

From youth soccer to the professional ranks, she has attended every single game possible. If it wasn’t home, she’d make sure to stream it. Before each game, and after each game, I receive a text from her wishing me luck and saying how I played afterwards. If she thinks I could’ve played better it’s a quick, “you’ll bounce back next one.” If it’s a match that she approves of my play it’s filled with exclamation marks and something along the lines of “you guys rocked.”

I appreciate every single one of these messages because I know I’m playing for more than myself. I’m playing to make her proud. She tends to say I get my athleticism from her, even though my dad played professional soccer, but I do have to give her a ton of credit.

Austin Martz, Saint Louis FC

Mom is the one always there when I’m in need. Often by my side, she constantly wants to take the lead. Sometimes I have to remind her that I’m grown and okay. Yet because of how much she cares, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

She says good luck in a text and watches every game. Her wisdom never changes: “play hard and have fun, that’s the aim.” My favorite memory is the Georgetown senior ball. Never seen so much fun, dancing and singing off the wall

Speaking of songs, there’s one in particular that rings a bell. "Note to Self" by Ben Rector reminds me of the things my mom does well. This year, I hope to give her a really special gift. If she didn’t show me how to care for others, this would be difficult, catch my drift?

So thank you, mother, for all that you do, I hope this tribute brought a smile, or two!



Forrest Lasso, FC Cincinnati

There have been a lot of influential people throughout my life and career. My Mom however, has been there since day one and hasn’t missed a day since.

My Mom, for me, is my foundation. She has picked me up when I’ve fallen and supported me as I’ve risen. She supported me at that first practice when I was just four years old, drove me to every game and tournament before I could drive myself, found a way to attend almost every game, both home and away while I was in college despite being the mother of five kids, and still to this day, finds a way to come and support me during my professional career.

I wouldn’t be here today without her and I can’t thank her enough!

Cody Laurendi, OKC Energy FC

“Men, are what their mothers made them”

The rock of the family, and the one who I care most about making proud, my mom. Growing up she was and still is my number one fan. She is the driving force to my “WHY” in life. She’s the one I go to when I need an opinion on a serious career move or just want to talk about how one another’s day has been. She has instilled passion, determination, and empathy towards others all traits that I rely heavily on in day-to-day life.

The best karma you can have in this life is being born into a good family and I believe I hands down have the best of the best. Love you Mom!



Billy Forbes, Phoenix Rising FC

My mom means the world to me.

I started playing soccer because of my mom. she played "back in the day," and I learned the game from her. She would drive me around to practice, and go the extra mile for me to get me where I am. She taught me to spend an hour the night before a game looking at the opponent, watching tapes, studying them, to get the right mentality for the game.

The good luck text before every game, and the positive support after the game, win or lose, really helped me grow confidence as a player. Growing up, I can remember practicing on the beach and my mom would bring me food and stick around to help teach me what I needed to work on. Before I moved to the U.S. for college, all my practice, fitness and workout plans were built by my mom to get me to shape I needed to be in.

My mom has been there for me every step of the way and I could never thank her enough..

Wilson Kneeshaw, Sacramento Republic FC

My mother means everything to me. I would definitely say I was a “momma’s boy.” She has helped me with everything in my life, and I can’t thank her and give enough praise to her for that.

My mother and I have always been very close, even when I have been away from her and in another country. We are very thankful for FaceTime so we can still see each other. She used to say that I will always be her baby which she got from the Mariah Carey song that she used to sing to me whilst she was pregnant. The best advice that my mother has ever gave me would be; “it’s very hard to beat someone that never gives up”. She told me that when I was young, and I didn't really understand it at first. As I've grown up, I now understand exactly what she means, and she still tells me it to this day.

I guess that ties into the one quality that I would most like to emulate from my mother - her steely determination, She is a fantastic woman who knows what she wants, and goes and gets it. It is a fantastic trait to have and something I try to apply to my own life after learning from her.



Luke Vercollone, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

I love my mother! My mother means so much to me! She raised me, nurtured my personality and character traits, and continues to encourage and support me! She is my mom and she is AWESOME!

I am the second oldest of 11 children! I grew up with seven brothers and three sisters in Pembroke, Mass. About every 1.5 years I would come into my class at school with a box of chocolate cigars (either blue or pink) and say, “I have another brother (or sister)!!!” Growing up in a relatively large family was normal to me since that is all I knew. There was always something going on and someone to play with.

Now that I have kiddos of my own, and see the amazing efforts and talents of my wife raising them, I am even more impressed with what my mom had to do to help us all survive and thrive! Thanks so much for all you do – I love you MOM!

Speedy Williams, Louisville City FC

Whenever you think about mothers, you think about a loving, supportive, and special human being. Mothers aren’t just special because they gave birth to us, mothers are special because their love is unconditional.

My mother epitomized what a loving and supportive parent is. She kickstarted my love for soccer. It was her who bought my first cleats, always was willing to take me to practice and encouraged me to play pick-up in the street with friends. In the summers, I would leave home in the mornings and not return until dinnertime. As long as she knew I was playing soccer she was perfectly fine with it. That type of freedom allowed me to grow as a young player.

That’s where I truly learnt about the game, the streets.

Even though my mom didn’t get to witness the start of my professional career in the flesh, she was definitely present in spirit.



Diego Restrepo, San Antonio FC

My mom has been a huge influence for me both on and off the pitch. As a player, my mom was the catalyst for me being where I am, because growing up both her and my dad made every single sacrifice to make sure I was successful on the field.

Whether it was buying me the best equipment, or driving me during the week to training, or traveling all around the country for tournaments, she was there for me. She allowed me to leave home at age 15 to the U.S. Soccer Residency Program in order to chase my dream, even though that meant being away from my family.

Off the field, she exemplifies the type of person I aspire to be: caring, compassionate, driven, loving, self-sacrificing, honest, and with the highest character. She is the rock of our family, and I am blessed to always have her in my corner.

Jake Fenlason, Saint Louis FC

My mom has shaped me into the man that I am today.

I’m forever grateful to have such a wonderful person in my corner every step of the way. Even when I’ve been across the country she’s been there cheering me on. Her support, her advice and her love have been one of the few constants in my life as a goalkeeper. When soccer becomes a roller coaster of emotion; she always knows when to interject and bring me back to even-keel. So, with that, I don’t think I could have gotten this far without you mom. You’ve been my rock during this crazy soccer career of mine and for that, I can’t tell you how thankful I am.

I love you and I hope you have a great Mother’s Day!

“All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my mother.” Abraham Lincoln



Jack Blake, Tampa Bay Rowdies

My wife Lou has been there from the very start of my professional career. She is my rock and has supported me through thick and thin.

We first met when I was 16 years of age and playing in the academy at Nottingham Forest. Lou was 18 and she worked in the club shop. We have lived in Nottingham, Minnesota, Jacksonville, and currently find ourselves, 23 and 25, living in Tampa Bay, Florida with our baby boy. Lou has been with me every step of the journey and we hope to give our son Leo all we have.





You have one song to dedicate to your Mom/Wife, what would it be?



"This is tough. I’m not sure what song I would dedicate to my Mom but I can definitely think of one that every time it comes on, I think of her - Landslide by the Dixie Chicks."


"Joni Mitchell, Both Sides Now. My Mum's favourite song and I know it will make her cry."



"Crazy In Love by Beyonce- we have the framed soundwaves of the song above our bed. It has been our song ever since we got together."



"If I were to dedicate a song to my mom it would be “Hey Mamma” by Kanye West. This song really relates to my upbringing with my family and how hard it was for my mom, who is a single mother of three kids. But through thick and thin she loved unconditionally, raised us kids to her best ability, and worked long hours to keep a roof over our heads. She is the strongest person I know and I’m so thankful for the rock she has been for this family and holding us together."



"If I had one song to dedicate to my Mom it would probably be a Ray Charles song or a Leonard Cohen song. I have very distinct memories of playing card games with my whole family while listening to CDs from these two legendary artists."



"Mama Liked The Roses by Elvis Presley. He dedicated this song to mothers who couldn’t spend the holiday together with their kids. Due to my career, I’ve missed lots of holidays at home unfortunately."

What is the best advice your Mom/Wife ever gave you?



"Keep God at the center of everything!"


"She’s given me a lot of good advice, but the advice I value the most is what i get on game day.  This was her last pre-game text: good luck, play well, play hard and do your best! Always remember and never forget, we are your biggest fans! Love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck!"



"The happiest people in life are the givers, not the getters."



"The best advice my mom ever gave me was to always be respectful."



"The biggest thing that Lou has taught me is how to be calm and patient during uncertainty. Leo was born  more than six weeks premature which was an extremely stressful period of time for us as new parents. He was in intensive care for three weeks to allow his body to adapt and gain the strength he needed to survive on the outside world. Lou always seems to take everything in her stride and together we have been able to overcome a lot."



"My mom as taught me so much about life but the best advice I’ve received from her was to, "Remember who you represent." Knowing that my actions reflect upon a larger group (family, friends, coworkers) helps keep my emotions in check during stressful moments and to approach every situation in a humble manner."

What is your favorite memory with your Mom?



"My favorite memory with my mom - and we still laugh about it today - is my mom used to always tell me to make my bed and clean my room before I left the house. One day I didn't clean my room, I was 16 years old at the time. I went out to play, as I was preparing for a U-18 World Cup qualifier game, and I got injured. My parents and coach took me to the hospital. After I got out of the hospital, I couldn't find my parents and my coach was like "what happened?" and I didn't know what to say. They were gone. My coach offered to take me home and when I got back, I walk in to find my mom drove home to go clean up my bedroom so that I would come home to a nice clean room and wouldn't be embarrassed when my coaches and teammates came to see me. :)"


"My favourite memory with my mum would be, we have a thing when i go away to play football, i will get her a present when i come home and she will get me one. when i came back from Romania, i got her a Wilson volleyball with the red hand print on from ‘Cast Away.’  when i got back, it turns out we had both bought each other the same volleyball."



"Honestly, it’s tough to say, there are so many. My senior night, or last home game at Wofford College, was very memorable for me. There was obviously a lot of other emotions added to the equation, but being able to share that night with my whole family - celebrating what we all had experienced the past four years was very special. I can remember hugging my Mom at midfield and being thunderstruck with hundreds of feelings. The main one being mere gratitude. I was closing one of the most memorable chapters of my life, a chapter that would’ve never happened without the unconditional support from my Mom throughout my entire life. Something I can never thank her enough for."



"Every memory. The good and the bad ones…. I cherish all the time I get to spend with my family.  Moving away to chase my dreams was a big deal and not the easiest of decisions. So, I enjoy every single minute of family time."



"I don't think I have a specific memory, but I do remember fondly driving across the northeast of the United States trying to get to soccer games. I remember trying to find soccer fields and her refusing to use the GPS system in the car because it had steered her wrong one time. It was a fantastic bonding experience."



"My favorite memory was winning the National Championship with Virginia, and having her and my family in Cary watching the game. Celebrating with them afterwards felt like a validation of all the sacrifices we made as a family to help me get to that point. It was very special."

What's the most creative Mother's Day gift you've pieced together?



"I remember being around nine or 10 years old and using my lunch money to buy her a glass globe with a flower inside for a Mother’s Day gift."


"I am not the most creative when it comes to gifts so I will have to say this piece for from the pitch."



"Haha - one year I wrote her a poem and framed it :)"



"The most creative Mother’s day gift I gave my mother was planting flowers and new mulch in the backyard. Now it’s tradition that she gets new flowers for her yard in the spring time."



"One year, my brothers and I collaborated and got my mom a bracelet. It had all our birthstones on it.  I can’t take credit for it, but it was an awesome gift."



"This is probably the most embarrassing answer considering I’ve been a bit of a slacker when it comes to Mother’s day presents over the past couple years but I do remember painting a clay pottery fish with the rest of my siblings and Pops one year and I would like to think my Mom loves and cherishes it deeply considering it’s still in our family room back home."

What's the one quality you try to mirror from your Mom/Wife?



"Her ability to put others needs before her own. She’s got such a way of employing empathy to those who are less fortunate than her. She has altered numerous children’s life trajectory for the positive over the years as a special needs teacher. She is without a doubt my hero!"


"Her style of play. My mom used to play so i definitely aim to inherit her style of play and her unselfish ways in terms of trying to create for my teammates."



"The one quality that I try to mirror from my mom is her kind-heartedness. I grew up seeing her being kind, loving and respectful to others."



"She always strives to do the best she can at absolutely any task that is presented to her. She’s a perfectionist, and I try to emulate that as much as possible."



"Selflessness. Throughout my entire life I have seen my Mom go out of her way to help her family, friends, and even complete strangers with anything and everything, no matter how big or how small, before herself. She has always put others first and it’s something I truly admire and try to replicate in my own life."



"First and foremost, I already know that Leo gets his good looks from his Mother! But most importantly, I hope he gets his strength of character and tenacity from Lou. She has a steely determination, especially as a Mother, and I’m sure he will follow in her footsteps. Our household definitely won’t be a quiet one that’s for sure!"




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