During the winter months, an all-women’s soccer league plays in Carbondale on Friday and Saturday nights. The skill levels range, and the ages do, too. Passion for the game, though, is pretty consistent.
The league is beginning their round-robin tournament.
Last Friday, in Carbondale Middle School’s gym, 10 women played a soccer game. Shoes squeaked on the wood floor; shouts echoed off the cinder block walls.
One team, mostly white, was young, probably high-school age. They had on red jerseys and walked in, before the game, wearing matching backpacks. Their parents sat high in the bleachers.
The other team was older, and all Latina. Their children sat at the bottom of the bleachers. One woman's husband paced back and forth as he watched the game.
This team had on gray jerseys with the Arsenal logo on the front, which is basically the European soccer equivalent of the New York Yankees.
The team was called “The Guerreras,” or the Warriors. They appeared a little nervous, as the younger team was really good.
“It’s cool to see them like this,” said Margarita Alvarez, the league organizer. The nerves, she thought, meant that the women truly cared about the game. “It’s cool that soccer is motivating.”
One woman played in her jeans. She’d arrived late, took off her coat, and walked right onto the court.
It’s a lot to ask many of these women to play in the league, and Alvarez knows this. She said she hears it all the time: “I’m married, I have kids, I’m working, I don’t have time.” She herself is no stranger to the situation; both of her children are with her at the game.
There was already an adult women’s soccer in the valley when Alvarez moved here eight years ago, and she played on one of the two teams, but it wasn’t very organized and eventually she lost interest.
Then, after having a baby, she started gaining weight, she said, and found some women who liked to play. They assembled a team, and joined the league, which Alvarez has since taken the helm of.
It’s grown considerably, from two teams to 12; names include: Girls On Fire, Black Magic, Cazadoras, Mountain Dolls and Spanglish.
Not all the women who play are locals. Veira Gamboa-Verella, 22, lives near Vail. Her team is mostly comprised of women she used to play with in high school. They drive over here every single weekend to play because there’s no women’s league where they live.
Verella said that being in the Roaring Fork Valley and seeing all these women so excited about soccer has inspired some of her teammates to try to start a women’s league in the Vail Valley.
As Alvarez watched the two teams play, she admitted her favorite part about the league is not the exercise, not the competition, but the unity.
“The Latinos with the whites, the moms with the daughters, we play on the same team, or on the opposite, but we’re all together,” she said.
Between work, kids and life in general, not to mention a stressful political climate, these women will come to Carbondale for the next few weekends, and play their hearts out.