Hey everyone! My name is Dani Weatherholt and I am a midfielder for the OL Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League. With our league being the first to return, I wanted to provide a different perspective of my experience leading up and throughout the Challenge Cup. Photography has always been a passion of mine, and I hope to provide an inside look of our tournament through my eyes and all the incredible people along the way.
With the State of Washington under strict protocol, our team headed out to Missoula, Montana for a month-long preseason to prepare for the upcoming Challenge Cup. With the quick turnaround, our team wasted no time and went straight into the grind of double-days. However, there was a buzz amongst the group and the dreaded double-days were met with a joyful eagerness and gratitude to be back on the field together doing what we love. Our team held perspective at the root of all that we did, and it showed in our relentless hard work on the field and our unified connection off the field.
On our final day in Montana, my teammate Rosie White and I headed out to Glacier National Park for a last-minute adventure. The National Park did a great job of providing a safe environment and limiting the number of people allowed into the park and on the trails. We knew that the Utah “Village” would be strict to ensure everyone’s safety, so we wanted to get one last breath of fresh air and explore the beautiful National Park.
Side note: I was getting closer and closer to this deer, and Rosie screamed my name sending it running for the woods. So blame Rosie White for not letting me get a closer photo for you all.
Our month-long preseason had gone by in the blink of an eye. We said our goodbyes to the beautiful community of Missoula, one that welcomed us with open arms, and were grateful to be representing another city as we headed into the Challenge Cup. We carpooled to the airport as teams do, but this time was different. We arrived at the airport and were led through a separate gate and instructed to pull directly onto the runway. We all took our turns guessing which airplane was the one we would take (everyone was wrong), and I got in trouble for taking pictures of people’s private planes. With laughter and smiles concealed by our face masks, we smized our way onto our little plane.
A huge thank you to our Club, the NWSL, and the Utah Royals for ensuring this safe method of travel for our team.
Before take-off, there was a combination of nerves and excitement amongst the group. Not sure whether it was because of the small flight, the turbulence, or the fact that Co-Pilot Jess Fishlock was apparently landing our plane. Without fail, a 10/10 landing from the legend, and our team touched down safely in Utah eager to get started.
Thank you for taking the time to read a short snippet of our final days in Montana and our journey to Utah. I hope to use this platform to showcase an inside look of the NWSL Village and share some stories behind the incredible people within it.