PORTLAND, Maine — When Paul Tukey started working on his latest book, he knew the target audience well. “I was the audience for the book I wanted to write,” he says. “I’m a soccer dad, and here in Maryland it’s very, very complicated to be a soccer dad because there’s so many different clubs, there’s so many different levels.” Finding the right place for a child who wants to play isn’t just complicated—it can get expensive, too.
So Tukey, who used to live in Maine, worked for several years a sports reporter for the Portland Press Herald and has a daughter who’s passionate about soccer, set out to get some help. He found it when he met Joanna Lohman, who is now retired from the game but played for both the U.S. Women’s National Team and the Washington Spirit. Together they have written a book for parents and athletes called “Raising Tomorrow’s Champions: What the Women’s National Soccer Team Teaches Us About Grit, Authenticity and Winning.”
Lohman’s career reflects her grit and authenticity as much as her winning. By her own admission she was not a star, and yet the Spirit thought so highly of her it paid the ultimate compliment for an athlete: it retired her number.
“I had no business having my jersey retired when it comes to championships and games won,” she says candidly. “But I think the Washington Spirit truly appreciates someone who leads with authenticity, and someone who throughout their career had really strived to connect with the fan base and to grow the game.”
Her contributions went well beyond points scored or denied. “I was an open and honest player who truly stood for social justice and for issues off the field that were true to my heart. Even though I don’t walk away with all the medals and trophies, I feel like I’ve gained an incredible amount of knowledge and value from my career, and I hope that is what the club respects—and clearly they do since they retired my number 15 jersey.”
Note: Paul Tukey writes, “One of the goals of the project is to raise money for non-profits in the worlds of soccer/LGBTQ+ and other social causes. When people buy the book directly from our website, RTCSoccer.com, the donation is $5 per book. When people buy through Amazon, it’s only $1.”