Written by Lauren Murray, Sky Blue FC Contributing Writer
Excitement and passion continues to fill the stands at Yurcak Field this season as Sam Kerr and Sky Blue FC have ultimately taken the National Women’s Soccer League by storm. Without her and the team’s winning ways, section 9 still has something to shout, sing and chant about for a nonstop 90 plus minutes.
In the crowd stands a large group of fans at every home game constantly cheering on Sky Blue FC from the first blown whistle to the last. Housed in section 9 is the official supporters group of Sky Blue FC, Cloud 9.
Cloud 9 operates off the dedication from volunteers to provide an inclusive environment for all fans and to endlessly motivate and lift the spirits of the team throughout the duration of the game. Every home game is another day for Cloud 9 to express its gratitude to Sky Blue FC, as well as its devotion to women’s soccer.
A couple of hours before game time at Yurcak Field, members of Cloud 9 have already arrived to help the Sky Blue FC staff set up the field. Members assist in a variety of game day preparation tasks, including hanging up banners on the fence surrounding the field and setting up the scarves that overhang the edge of section 9.
A steady flow of Cloud 9 members start pouring in roughly three hours before game time to begin game day activities. They usually host a tailgate that often offers food for all fans in the parking lot to enjoy and provide games such as cornhole to keep the gameday energy high.
Then, the first whistle of the game is finally blown and all of Cloud 9 begins its duty of supporting Sky Blue FC through its first chant of the game. They will never take a seat during the game or stop making any sort of noise throughout the 90 plus minutes. Members are using their voices, stomping on the bleachers and beating drums to maintain the thrill of the game. Whether Sky Blue FC is up by two, tied one to one with 10 minutes left or down by three in the first half, the volume of Cloud 9 does not alter and nor does its positive, exuberant vibe.
However, Cloud 9 as it is today was not always as large or as loud as it currently is. Jen Muller, who is a Cloud 9 member and known as a leader of the group, said Cloud 9 took a couple of seasons to build. Jen said the supporters group was started informally in 2013 and was just a handful of people.
She began to attend Sky Blue FC games in 2014 and joined Cloud 9 in 2015. She met Melissa Corréa, who is the founder of the supporters group, at the 2014 qualifiers in Philadelphia. There, Jen learned Melissa is the reason Cloud 9 existed and that Melissa was single handedly running it.
“Melissa basically held the torch the whole time,” Jen said. “She grabbed people that she could, but it was her making banners, hanging flags. She was Cloud 9, and she kept it going.”
Jen, who was a board member with the Empire Supporters Club for the New York Red Bulls, offered to help Melissa run Cloud 9 since she had experience operating ESC.
“She’s not quite sure how to run a supporters group, but she has the passion,” she said. “I know the nuts and bolts of it, like the administrative stuff, how to deal with the front office and what we need to do to put ourselves out there to get members and drum up interest.”
When Jen started with Cloud 9, she said they were lucky enough to get five members at a game. Now, they are almost at ninety members and have been steadily growing.
“We’re louder and louder every year,” she said. “I think every game we’re getting better.”
With her ties to ESC, Jen had a foundation to begin recruiting for Cloud 9. One of her recruits from ESC was Gerald Foston. He said she told him to come to a Sky Blue FC game. After just one game, he gradually came to more. Now, this is his second season as a season ticket holder, and he credited Jen for being able to successfully enlarge Cloud 9.
“I think we have a lot of guys in our supporters club compared to others I’ve seen,” he said. “We definitely have a male presence, and we owe that to Jen. She recruited a lot of us from ESC.”
Another member, Heather Lamb, joined Cloud 9 in 2015, and she said last season was her first full season. She said it was the atmosphere that Cloud 9 provided that drew her in. Buy zithromax
“I was in the biergarten and Cloud 9 sat in that corner before we were moved to section 9.” she said. “I saw this group of people playing drums and making noise. They were fun, and I wanted to be a part of that.” Buy valtrex
With the popularity of women’s soccer still growing, Jen said it is very important for Sky Blue FC to have a supporters club.
“We don’t have the resources that some other teams have or play in a some of the stadiums other teams have,” Jen said. “I think it’s vital for us to be here. Here and on the road.” Buy amoxicillin
It has become Cloud 9’s goal to attend every away game as well. Heather said their attendance at away games is what sets them apart from other supporters groups in the NWSL.
“As far as other supporters group, I know they don’t travel nearly as much as we do,” she said. “We have gone to quite a few away trips. And while travelling is fun, it can be pretty expensive on occasion, but we try to have Cloud 9 represent at every away game. That’s our goal.”
As for Cloud 9’s integration with the team and staff, Heather said she and the other members are appreciative of the staff and players for their support over the years, and for helping them grow.
With their backing, Gerald said Cloud 9 is lucky to have the support and rapport they have been able to establish with all of Sky Blue FC.
“I do find that it is very inclusive and very friendly,” Gerald said. “All the players are friendly. Even the opposing players are friendly. When we went to Carolina, they all thanked us for coming, even though we beat them one nothing on a 80th minute goal. ”
While being able to watch Sky Blue FC games from one of the corner sections of the stands and refusing to take a seat or result to silence, Gerald said one of the greatest perks of being with Cloud 9 is the ambience it has created for fans.
“It’s the camaraderie,” he said. “It’s definitely the camaraderie. You can’t walk in the stadium and not know anybody. It’s almost impossible these days now. It’s definitely the camaraderie.”
Interested in joining Cloud 9? Find out more about the Official Supporters Group of Sky Blue FC.
About the Author: Lauren Murray is a senior at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, pursuing two bachelor’s degrees in journalism and sport studies. She previously worked as the Assistant Sports Editor of her college’s award-winning newspaper, The Ithacan. As editor, she was awarded First Place for Sports Coverage and Third Place for News Story by the New York Press Association.