It's almost here. The time of year where the brutal cold suffocates the senses is almost at its end and will give way to a more manageable bone chilling cold that allows Chicago natives to spend less time scurrying to the next source of heat and more time breathing the fresh air of the outdoors. More importantly, the time of year where live football is only a dream is almost at its end. The time of gaze upon their television set dreaming about the energy of Toyota Park is almost passed. Live football will once again be played in the Windy City this month! It's time to dig the Fire kit out of the closet, dust off the scarves, dig out the tailgating grill and get ready to support the 2015 Chicago Fire!
As the Chicago Fire fan base gets amped up for the dream of a more successful 2015 season, it is also once again time to start looking at other ways to get involved in the soccer community in Chicago. There is comradery and kinship within the soccer community of Chicago that perhaps can best be described as a family atmosphere. If you are a fan that just watches the games at home and doesn't meet new people surrounding the beautiful game, you may be missing out. I encourage fans to get involved as much as possible in the community in order to truly experience the sport in all its glory. Here are some ways you can get more involved with the sport off the pitch at the beginning of the 2015 season.
ISA monthly board meeting
The monthly Independent Supports Association (ISA), better known as Section 8, will be meeting today, Wednesday March 4 from 7 pm to 9 pm at the Atlantic Bar and Grill in the Ravenswood/ Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago. The new ISA board was elected in January and is poised to provide support to the soccer community through a number of different ways. Whether you sit in the Harlem End, are part of supporters group or even if you are just a typical fan interested in becoming more involved, I highly recommend you participate in an ISA meeting. Fan issues such as away trips, tailgates, banners and tifo, fan issues and other interests of supporters all get discussed. If you have an idea, the ISA is there to help facilitate your idea so come out and share your thoughts. The monthly board meeting is a great way to meet new people and make connections in the support of the Fire. Meetings are typically held the first Wednesday of the month. Checkout the ISA's website at www.s8c.org for more details.
Chicago Fire watch parties
Section 8 hosts an official watch party for nearly all away matches. If you enjoy the comradery of matches at the stadium, enjoy a similar experience by meeting up with other supporters in the section. The first official watch party for this Friday's Opening match against the LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center may be viewed at the Atlantic Bar and Grill. If you have never made it out for an official watch party I highly recommend you come on out to the Atlantic for a terrific experience. Opening day for the Fire is always an exciting time and is a great time to meet the rest of the Fire faithful after the long winter drought of live football in Chicago.
If you can't make the official watch party (which I highly recommend you do), the above graphic has a good, quick list of other places likely to get smaller watch parties for opening day and matchdays thereafter.
Chicago Fire Foundation events
One terrific way to get involved with fans of Chicago Soccer and give back to the community is to get involved with Chicago Fire Foundation Events. This Monday was the annual kickoff luncheon for the 2015 Season. Similar charity events and opportunities are available throughout the season. These events are tons of fun! If you haven't had the opportunity to attend any yet I recommend you give them a try this season. It is a great way to meet people in the soccer community, often out of their typical element.
Some upcoming events include: Art of Futbol, Fire Brews and Bites, Guest Bartending, Practice in the Community, and the annual White Party. To learn more about these events check out the Chicago Fire Foundation page here http://www.chicago-fire.com/community/foundation/events.
Or, simply visit HTIOT regulary - this column will keep you posted on upcoming events.
Section 8 tailgates
Excited for opening day on March 14?! Why not get to the first Fire home match a bit early and enjoy tailgating with the Independent Supports' Association and section 8 fans? Hardcore fans arrive for the beginning of the tailgate starting as early as 3 pm at the Harlem end of the Toyota Park parking lot. Proceeds help the non-profit group afford the materials and resources needed to make section 8 one of the most successful soccer supporters groups in the country. Follow Section 8 on Twitter at @Section8Chicago for up-to-date info on what food will be available at that weeks tailgate.
Chicago Red Stars
Can't get enough live football? How about expanding the reach of your soccer community? There is only a short wait until the beginning of the 2015 Red Stars season. With the Woman's World Cup getting ready to take place this summer in Canada, get familiar with some of the players now! The Chicago Red Stars have 4 player who were just called up to the USWNT in preparation for the World Cup. Tickets range from $15-$75. For more information check out the Chicago Red Stars site at http://chicagoredstars.com/
Information on the first Red Stars match for 2015 can be found below:
Chicago Red Stars v Seattle Reign FC
Sat, April 18, 2015
Doors: 6:00 pm / Kickoff: 7:00 pm
Village of Lisle Benedictine University Sports Complex, Lisle, IL