Elizabeth Stanton

for sale Greg Cochrane” alt=”Chicago Fire Defender, look Greg Cochrane” src=”http://sportsdivasinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/233A3840-1024×683.jpeg” width=”467″ height=”311″ /> Chicago Fire Defender, Greg Cochrane strikes a pose on the runway. Photo credit: Elizabeth Stanton

The Chicago Fire hosted their 2nd annual Soccer & Style Fashion Show last week at Revel downtown, proving once again that these footballers are just as well-footed off the field as they are on.

With proceeds benefitting the Chicago Fire Foundation, the second year event drew Fire fans, family, friends, socialites and fashion admirers alike, providing an evening of sophistication, fashion and sport like no other event in Chicago.

Elizabeth Stanton and I had the opportunity to attend this year and arrived about 20 minutes before the players took the stage. Upon arriving, we immediately grabbed two glasses of wine from the open bar and cruised the perimeter of the venue, visiting several vendor booths that included designer eyewear and hats.

Chicago Fire Fashion Show

Midfielder Benji Joya. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

One of my favorite local news personalities, Natalie Bomke took the stage as the emcee and welcomed the crowd that included a solid mix of men and women and a few bonafide fashionistas. Attendees sat in chairs lined up against the catwalk that was appropriately placed in the middle of the event space.

One by one players and coaches emerged from a back room behind the stage and each took their turn walking the runway in looks by Mens Warehouse, featuring Joseph Aboud, fashion-forward street and athletic wear by Bumpy Pitch and Chi Boys, eyewear trends by Eye Candy Optics, and hats from BlaQ ZinQ, the luxury headwear brand created by Fire forward Robert Earnshaw.

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Forward Robert Earnshaw. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

While some of the ballers were better cat-walkers than others, each player and coach had their own sense of style as they took their turn posing for fans and snapping cameras as the DJ pumped out great beats and kept the crowd engaged.

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Forward Quincy Amarikwa. Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

My only issue with the program this year was that the players were not announced prior to taking the stage and there was no mention to what they were specifically wearing. The event could have been more engaging if each player had been introduced, including his position – and perhaps an interesting anecdote or two (…resides in the UK in the off-season…enjoys cooking in his spare time, etc.) as well as what exactly he was wearing. This was a missed opportunity to market the players, and the clothing, to a diverse group that may not be attending games on a regular basis.

Overall, it was another successful event for the Fire, providing fans an opportunity to see players in a different light and enjoy a night of sport and fashion in an intimate setting. While the Fire may not have had the season they had hoped for, they still know how to bring their A-game for lifestyle-focused events that fans have come to love and expect from the sophisticated and international team.

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Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

More and more teams today are realizing that in order to gain more fans they need to do a better job courting the folks who appreciate the aesthetic attributes of the sport.

In Chicago’s competitive pro sports scene, sildenafil the clear front runner in this space is the Chicago Fire.

Chicago’s soccer club continuously puts out culturally-significant events that leave us impressed with a renewed interest in the game, salve the club and the players, which always leads me to ask, “why aren’t more teams doing this type of thing?”

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

The easy answer is “because they don’t have to”. Unlike the majority of their pro counterparts in our city, the Fire doesn’t sell out every single game and the size of the club’s fan base pales in comparison to that of the ‘other’ football team in town. We’re all aware of the never-ending ‘futbol debate’ that rages on between American football fans and the lovers of soccer, and whether you love footy more than football, with Toyota Parks’ southwest city location, catching an impromptu match isn’t as easy as jumping a cab over to Soldier Field.

But if you prefer extracurricular sporting events that involve good lighting, art, civil conversations, DJs and cocktails, then the Chicago Fire has an event for you! After all, this is the team that brings us sexy events like the Fashion Show at the Wit (check out my review from 2013 here) and the incredibly popular White Party. The Fire has a flare for throwing high-brow events that celebrate and promote the game effortlessly.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Chicago Fire’s fourth annual Art of Futbol at Prairie Production studio on Randolph with friends Elizabeth Stanton and Monica Gostkiewicz. This annual event rotates between slick venues around the city and brings together a curated collection of donated art that in some shape or form celebrates the game of futbol. A handful of the artists donate a portion of their proceeds to the Chicago Fire Foundation.

Art of Futbol

Over 50 artists submitted art with 25 on display including several of the Chicago Fire players as well as one of our favorite Bears, Martellus Bennett. The art exhibit ranged from mixed display to oil on canvas to photography with all pieces sharing the common feature of futbol.

Art of Futbol

DJ Anton Trizna spun while a diverse mix of guests mingled, sipped complimentary wine from E & J Gallo, beers from Heineken and water from Fiji while nibbling on impressive light fare from Shakout sushi, Carnivale, and Cabot cheeses. The scene was lively and inviting with hands-on exhibits that allowed guests to paint and leave behind a personalized mark on a community piece of art. A handful of players (very difficult to identify in street clothes) mingled with guests and roamed freely among the crowd that skewed heavily male (70/30).

Monica Gostkiewicz, Monica Murphy, Elizabeth Stanton

Monica Gostkiewicz, Monica Murphy, Elizabeth Stanton

The Fire are known for throwing great events and the warmer weather brings not only ideal conditions for matches at Toyota Park but the slew of upcoming must-hit events that warrant your attention. Check out these upcoming Fire fundraisers and be sure to make your way to Toyota Park this summer for some of the best futbol in Chicago.

Chicago Fire Soccer Club – Fire Brews + Bites

Saturday, June 14: 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Hosted at Carmichael’s Steakhouse, this event allows World Cup fans to sample a variety of brews from local breweries, snack on various appetizers, and socialize with other attendees while viewing World Cup games on the big screen.

Purchased tickets here: Fire, Brews, and Bites

Save the date for the 2014 Chicago Fire’s 3rd Annual White Party: Date & time are TBD – always held in August, and always one to sell out – this is one of the hottest international events of the summer and a must-hit for any gal – futbol fan or not. Check out the pics and info from the Chicago Fire Foundation’s 3rd Annual White Party for a taste.

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salve Liz Stanton shooting on the sidelines” src=”http://sportsdivasinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/IMG_4257-1024×768.jpg” width=”420″ height=”315″ /> Author, sovaldi Liz Stanton shooting on the sidelines

Last Saturday the Chicago Red Stars donned their short sleeve jerseys and white shorts to hit the pitch in Lisle, look Illinois for a match against the Washington Spirit. Fans wrapped in blankets and clutching cups of hot chocolate filled the stands and cheered on the Red Stars, as the two teams faced off against each other and the blustery Chicago winds.

At the half the game was tied at 0-0, but a goal came early on in the second half by the Washington Spirit’s Tori Huster. The Red Stars were not able to convert later opportunities to a goal, and the Spirit handed the home team their first loss of the season.

Chicago Red Stars vs. Spirit

Chicago Red Stars vs. Washington Spirit

While the Red Stars didn’t get a win on Saturday, the team has some true hard core supporters that didn’t let the 45 degree weather mixed with gusty winds keep them from the stands. Colorful blankets, winter coats, and Red Star emblazoned scarves and hats, dotted the bleachers. Young girls in their team uniforms jumped with excitement and a Red Stars fan group, Chicago Local 134, even brought out the trumpets and flags to cheer their way to warmth and their team to victory.

Young fans

Young fans

This match against the Washington Spirit was quite different from the last Red Stars game I attended. Last July, I saw the Red Stars take on the Spirit and the sun was high and bleachers were hot. The Red Stars were hot as well, and beat the Spirit 1-0. I was at the game to support the team and to present a mini pop up exhibit of The Through Her Eyes Project, an innovative multimedia project I designed to profile girls and women in developing countries who play sports and highlight the benefits they gain. As a journalist I created the project to use visual storytelling to share these stories both online and on the ground, to motivate a world of stronger women, families, communities and countries. At the game I set up around 20 photographs and spoke with fans and shared the stories of the girls and women profiled in the project. The Red Stars are a team and organization that believe in the power of sport and believe in supporting everyone working to promote sport for women and girls everywhere.

The Through Her Eyes Project

The Through Her Eyes Project

So let’s get out and support them. Ladies, if you like soccer this is a great local team to support. Coaches, want to inspire your young players? Take them to a Chicago Red Stars game. Moms and dads, your daughters and sons will love a trip to see the Stars in action. The Red Stars’ next home game is on Mother’s Day, May 11th, and all moms get in free with a paid ticket. Full schedule can be found here: http://chicagoredstars.com/schedule/.

Go Red Stars!

Chicago Red Stars

Chicago Red Stars

Members of Chicago Local 134

Chicago Red Stars

Members of Chicago Local 134

Chicago Red Stars

Liz Stanton, Monica Murphy, Caroline Hoit

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As a 30-something American woman, generic I’ve been blessed with the opportunity and the right to play sports my entire life.  From the age of four, capsule I was encouraged to get out on the field, stuff join the team, kick some ass and do my best to get better, excel and win.  I can confidently say the skills and lessons I learned at an early age from playing competitive sports have made me into who I am today and serve as a daily driver of my confidence and positive outlook on life.

The proliferation of women’s sports in the US can be witnessed in just about every corner of our country, thanks to Title IX, the advancement of women’s rights and the cultural acceptance and support of woman’s sports over the last 40 years.  Yet, in the majority of developing countries, this is hardly the case.

Traditional societal roles of women in conservative cultures of developing countries create significant barriers for participation of women in sports and unequivocally denies them the confidence, health benefits, community and conviction that are derived from playing sports.

Elizabeth Stanton, an accomplished journalist, Evanston native and current Chicago resident, recognized these barriers and chose to use art and media to explore, report and record the issues these women face by documenting their stories in the Through Her Eyes project through video and photography.  By sharing their stories and highlighting the first-hand rewards these women experience from playing sports, Elizabeth hopes to drive awareness with health and development organizations to fund sports projects for women.

Elizabeth Stanton

I had the chance to sit down with Elizabeth and ask her about her experiences in Ecuador documenting women athletes for the project, her recent exhibits here in the states and about her next destination.

MMV:  What was your inspiration to begin working on Through Her Eyes project?

ES:  I was working for a local newspaper in Costa Rica and noticed that there was extremely limited coverage on women’s sports.  I began observing closer and realized the attention to women’s sports in the area was non-existent.  As a high school and college athlete, my teams were constantly covered in the local newspapers, and I remember how empowering that feeling is when you see your team and your accomplishments heralded in the media.  I finished up the job in Costa Rica and returned to Chicago where I was working for the Chicago bureau of the New York Times and started thinking more about the societal impact on women an environment like the one I just left created.

MMV:  What made you chose Ecuador as your first stop to begin research for Through Her Eyes?

ES:  I began researching the concept and noticed there was very little research done previously on women playing sports in developing countries in South America.  The Ecuadorian Olympic Committee was one of the only South American countries that had developed a Women in Sports Commission, so I knew they would be more open to the concept.  Also, I speak fluent Spanish and wanted to be in an environment where I could interview women myself and dive head first into the culture and be accepted.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton, Through Her Eyes

MMV:  When you arrived, what type of specific barriers did you find?

ES:  Many women spoke of the lack of support they received from family when it came to sports.  This is where we see the typical societal norms come into play. Women told me they were told to stay home and help with the cooking and household chores and that school came first and that sports could come later.  Honestly, you see this here in the US as well – the thought that sports will interfere and should be an after thought, when actually studies prove that women who participate in sport at a young age finish school, earn more money and have more advanced degrees and positions than their counterparts.

MMV:  Have you seen the fruits of your labor with success in fundraising and awareness?

ES:  Awareness, absolutely.  Once I was finished, I took the exhibit to six different cities in Ecuador and the response was amazing.  Athletes came with their families and friends to the exhibits where I was able to bring the stories back to the women that told them to me originally.  That’s what it is all about.  Shining a positive light on these women, recognizing them for their athletic ability in front of the community.  Showing them as influencers in the community inspires other women to get active and allows communities to embrace and celebrate them as athletes.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Stanton, Through Her Eyes

As far as funding, that has been a bit more of a challenge.  I continue to apply for grants to continue the project and after my recent exhibit in Chicago in June, I submitted two of my photos to the State Department’s Empowering Women and Girls Through Sport photo contest where I was just honored as one of the two grand prize winners  (the headline photo above is the winning photo).  I’m hoping this will advance me to working closer with the State Department and possibly espnW and their current partnership with the project and the State Department.

My goal is to get to another country soon and continue the reporting and the mission, but it is dependent on funding.  The Middle East is on my radar as my next destination, but in the meantime, I am finalizing the paperwork to become a 501c3 non profit organization which will open the door to funding from organizations, agencies and individuals that want to support the project.  I’m optimistic, but it’s tough.  Sometimes you have to wave all the flags, start the fire and hope that people notice.

MMV:  Roger that.

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Show your support for the Through Her Eyes mission and objectives by following Through Her Eyes on FacebookTwitter and Tumbler where updates on the project will be provided.

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