Lindsey Eanet is a born storyteller.
That may sound a bit cliche, given that everyone from software engineers to content marketers to corporate HR reps describes themselves as storytellers these days. But for Lindsey, it’s deep in her blood.
She’s a respected writer on soccer, pop culture, queer issues, and her hometown. [Disclosure: I’ve worked with Lindsey in the past as an editor for Howler Magazine.] She hosts a podcast that covers everything from 90s TV shows to internet culture to figure skating, with every episode infused with Big Feelings. She does spoken word performance. She’s an outspoken LGBTQ activist and an organizer for ongoing COVID-19 mutual aid efforts in her community.
We sat down with Lindsey to chat about her new job, what the Red Stars and WoSo community means to her, and how it feels to be “first” in something.
All For XI: Tell me a little about yourself and the work you did before this week’s announcement.
Lindsey Eanet: I’m still doing the work I did before this announcement—I wear a lot of hats, including as the Executive Director of the Northcenter Chamber of Commerce, one of the largest neighborhood chambers in the City of Chicago. As you can probably imagine, things are pretty busy right now as we help our members weather the current COVID-19 crisis (support your local small businesses, friends!). At night, at least when we could still go out, I’ve done standup storytelling and live lit shows at a number of venues across Chicago and the suburbs. Between my day job and storytelling, I’m used to getting on a mic and being in front of a crowd of people, but this is definitely a new adventure.
AFXI: You’ve been involved with Chicago Local 134 for a while. Tell me more about your work with them and what your experiences in the Red Stars supporter community have been like.
LE: It was very organic. I started as a very casual Red Stars fan around the start of the NWSL Era. Over time, especially with the move to then-Toyota Park, I started going to more and more matches. My wife and I started attending regularly around 2016-17 and became season ticket holders. From there, I started getting involved with some projects like the Local 134 Prideraiser for Brave Space Alliance. It just kept snowballing from there—we met more people, built more relationships and got more involved.
One of the few bright spots in the time of COVID-19 has been watching how the Red Stars supporter community has come together and stayed connected even as there’s so much uncertainty in the live sports landscape. I’ve met up with my fellow supporters in Animal Crossing. We have an incredible D&D group made of Red Stars supporters that held our first one-shots during the first couple weeks of quarantine. And there’s been a lot of focus on how can we, as a community, help? There have been efforts to support our partner bars and restaurants and businesses where our fellow supporters work; and now Local 134 is running a jersey raffle to raise funds for amazing local organizations like Brave Space Alliance and My Block, My Hood, My City. They recognize that our commitment, especially right now, has to extend beyond the club—to our community, to our city, and to each other.
AFXI:“Professional sports PA announcer” definitely stands out compared to the rest of your resume. What made you decide to go after this position?
LE: It was almost a reflex. I heard about the potential opportunity from Maggie Dziubek of Local 134, and before I even knew what I was doing, I messaged her to say I was interested. I love performing and I’m passionate about this club, and saw this as an amazing opportunity to continue to develop this particular skill set and contribute to the matchday atmosphere.
AFXI: How do you feel the Red Stars stand out as an organization? Both in NWSL and in the Chicago sports landscape?
LE: There’s so much talent and creativity both on and off the pitch, but a lot of what makes the Red Stars special, on the club side and the supporters side, is that strong sense of community. That same ethos of connecting to people and thinking about what they want or need during COVID-19 is reflected on the club side as well as the supporters side. All the content the team has been putting together—the Bedtime Story with Rory, the Jackbox nights—it’s uplifting and comforting and feels very human, which is really cool. One of the core reasons I know I love (and miss) sports right now is because sport is this amazing conduit for connection and bonding, and I appreciate that the club’s response so clearly recognizes that.
A great example of this was the Virtual Tailgate that was held on the day the home opener was supposed to take place. The club, the supporters and Revolution all worked together to turn a sad day in the midst of a grim run of sad days into a celebration of enthusiasm and creativity and joy. And it felt like everyone—the supporters, the front office staff, the players, the people from Revolution—had a stake in the day and was excited to be a part of it. Morgan Brian and Danny Colaprico painted a gorgeous tifo for the contest!
AFXI: A good deal of the local reporting on your appointment focused on you being the only woman working as a PA announcer for a Chicago professional sports team. Is that particularly resonant for you? What your feelings on that?
LE: I hadn’t even thought about it much until so much of the response was about being “the first.” I appreciate that a professional women’s sports team is committed to having, quite literally, women’s voices involved in the club beyond the players.
I’ve been around sports all my life and have heard so many people say, “I don’t know why, I just prefer a male commentator.” I come from a journalism background and saw so many of my female peers who took the broadcast route get letters from people picking apart their voices. I think a lot of that comes from our culture which is conditioned to perceive male voices—as well as white voices, heterosexual voices, cis voices, voices of able-bodied people—as the default. And I know equity and justice, in women’s sports and well beyond, require a lot more sustained, thoughtful and uncomfortable work than just “hire more women!!” But I certainly hope in some small way that I can change people’s perceptions of what a pro sporting event sounds like and encourage more people to follow their dreams and take up space and, if necessary, be the first of something.
AFXI: What kind of energy do you hope to bring to Red Stars gameday?
LE: I love hosting and entertaining, and the energy I want to bring is just doing what I can, through my vocal choices and script, to make people feel welcome, enthusiastic and like they want to be a part of what’s happening in the stadium and on the pitch. I want my work to have the message of, “We want you to be a part of this. There is a place for you in this club, in this community.” And I hope to do right by the club and the fans in that respect.
AFXI: Anything else you want people to know about you?
LE: Not really, just looking forward to being a part of the matchday experience in this way!