Editor’s note: This interview took place before the Orlando Pride announced it was dropping out of the NWSL Challenge Cup after six players tested positive for COVID-19.
To say Michele Vasconcelos is excited for the NWSL Challenge Cup to start would be an understatement. She was well on her way to having a career season—with two goals and three assists through 11 games—before an ACL injury on July 12th ended her season, causing her to miss the Chicago Red Stars’ run to the 2019 NWSL Championship final.
“I don’t know if it’s because I was coming off an injury, but I’ve been on board the whole time,” Vasconcelos told Hot Time in Old Town.
While she’s thrilled to be back on the field, for Vasconcelos, the decision to play in the quarantined tournament in Utah was a lot more involved than many of her Red Stars teammates. Michele has a two-year-old daughter, Scarlett, who will be coming with her to Utah to live inside the “bubble.” The league is letting moms bring their kids, and one caregiver, as well. In Michele’s case, that caregiver will be her husband, Pedro.
“The league and the commissioner have gone to extreme lengths to make sure all the moms and their children are comfortable,” she said. “It’s been a huge blessing.”
Vasconcelos is from Sandy, Utah, which isn’t too far from where the majority of matches are taking place at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman. Being close to home made her decision to play even easier. Her husband and daughter are already out in Utah getting settled in.
“Scarlett’s on a really terrible schedule right now being watched by the grandparents,” Michele shared, with a laugh. “She’s going to bed at like ten.”
During the tournament, the Vasconcelos family will be living in a two-bedroom apartment in the “NWSL Village,” and the league is allowing moms to bring their kids to training.
“They’ve just gone above and beyond to make sure kids are going to have things to do, and that there’s a safe space for them at practice,” Vasconcelos said. “I’m really excited about it.”
Michele said Scarlet is really into princess movies at the moment—“I think we’ve gone through all of them now!” But, she’ll have more than just screen time to keep Scarlett busy. The league is giving moms a stipend to purchase activities for their kids in the village, which will help, since they can’t leave.
“With the virus, it makes everything a lot different, because we’re stuck inside there,” Vasconelos said. “We have plenty of resources and everything, But you lose that sense, especially with a child, I love being able to take her out on an adventure every day. Now, that will be limited, but we’ll have to get creative.”
The Red Stars were supposed to play the Orlando Pride this Saturday, but that was before Orlando had to pull out of the tournament after six players tested positive for COVID-19. The league is working to put out a new schedule soon.