'It's payback time!' Youth reporter witnesses Sidekicks win
By Mackenzie Mathis, Guest reporter
My name is Mackenzie Mathis and I am a second-grader at Reuben Johnson Elementary in McKinney. My teacher is Mrs. Laura Shade and she is awesome. She has taught me all about punctuation and spelling, so that is how I have learned to write this article about my big night as the Star Junior Reporter at the Dallas Sidekicks game on Saturday, Jan. 12, at the Allen Event Center.
When I first got to the game, my daddy bought me a Sidekicks T-shirt and some nachos, and we went to a special elevator just for members of the press. When we got to the press box, I discovered it wasn't a box at all. It was actually a long room with Coca Cola machines, and laptops, and many different people getting ready to take statistics for the game. There were radio and television announcers, including Norm Hitzges. My dad thought it was really cool to meet him. The Dallas Sidekicks owner, Ronnie Davis, came over and introduced himself to us, too. He even gave us his business card. I plan to send him an email sometime soon, and thank him for bringing the Sidekicks to Allen!
I took my seat and started watching the team warm up on the field. I became immediately excited when I realized my big brother's old coach, Chad Deering, was on the field warming up. Unfortunately, he didn't play this night, but it was fun to see him juggling on the field. He is a great juggler.
My dad and I decided to get serious about taking notes for the game. We researched our statistics and found out that the last time the Chicago Mustangs and the Dallas Sidekicks played, the Sidekicks lost 8-7. I thought to myself, "It's payback time!"
As the game got started and the players were all introduced, the crowd was cheering very loudly. After the players from both teams were on the field, a pretty lady came out to sing the National Anthem. Everyone got really quiet and stood up and put their hands over their hearts, just like in school. She did a good job. Then, the game got under way.
Thirty seconds into the game, the Sidekicks scored a goal, which got the crowd really pumped up. The goal was scored by #23, Nick Stavrou. The Sidekicks possessed the ball much better than the Mustangs, but the Mustangs did have some scoring opportunities. However, goalkeeper Sagu was making some great saves. I decided right then that Sagu was a player I wanted to interview after the game.
As the game progressed, I noticed that they were playing music during the game. I play indoor soccer sometimes, and I think it would be really fun to play soccer to loud, energizing music. The arena also has a big TV in the middle of it called a Jumbotron. It is really for the fans to have a better look at the players or to watch instant replays, but throughout the night, they show fans dancing and singing and goofing around on the Jumbotron, too. I saw a lot of people doing the Chicken Dance. It looked like everyone was having a great time. The "kiss cam" was especially funny. As the camera panned the crowd, when a husband and wife were put on to the big screen, they had to kiss in front of everyone. I was laughing so hard, I could barely breathe.
Toward the end of the game, everyone was given a purple balloon. Purple is the Dallas Sidekicks team color. When the announcer gave the signal, everyone sat on their balloons to make them pop. It was very loud as the popping noises filled the arena.
When the game ended, as I predicted the Sidekicks had gotten their payback and won the game. It was time to go down on the field to interview the players. I was very excited and felt important that I was able to go down just like a real reporter to talk with the team.
First, I spoke with goalkeeper Sagu. I asked him two questions. The first was "who was your favorite player as a boy?" Sagu said his favorite player was Lionel Messi. Then I asked, "Who is your favorite professional women's soccer player today, and why?" He answered, "Hope Solo, because she is a goalie just like me." Finally, I asked Sagu, "How did you feel about Messi winning his fourth Ballon d'Or Golden Ball over Cristiano Ronaldo?" Sagu said that he was happy Messi won, because he thinks Messi is the best.
Then something really great happened. I got the opportunity to interview Tatu, former star player of the Dallas Sidekicks. As a part of the Sidekicks, Tatu won four championships. Now, he is the coach and general manager of the team. My dad said he remembered going to watch Tatu play soccer when my dad was just a kid. He was a very famous soccer player in the 1980s. That gave me an idea for my interview question. I asked him, "Do you think this current team could beat the team you played for in the 1980s?" Tatu said that this team is continuing to grow and come together, improving as a team, and that it was "good to get a win tonight over the Chicago Mustangs because the Sidekicks will most likely play them again in the playoffs."
He didn't really answer my question. Maybe he didn't hear me, or maybe he preferred NOT to answer that specific question. It didn't matter to me, though. I was just excited to meet Tatu and have my picture made with him. I was so excited that I forgot to ask for an autograph. I will bring my picture we had taken together the next time I come and see if I can get my autograph then.
The opportunity to be a Star Junior Reporter was so much fun. I loved so many things about the night, taking notes and keeping stats, drinking Coca Colas with my dad in the press box, watching the game and seeing how professional soccer players move the ball around. The players can move the ball so well as a team; it's almost like watching choreographed dance moves. The best part of the night was interviewing Sagu and Tatu with my dad. It was an experience I will never forget.