Virginia Beach Piranhas News Release – www.vbpiranhas.com
Thursday, October 4, 2012
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - “You know that line in the movie A League of Their Own? The one where Geena Davis is quitting the team to go home and she says the reason is because ‘it just got too hard? Tom Hanks, her coach tells her, ‘it’s supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it.’
“Well that’s exactly how I feel about this organization. It’s all about the opportunities this team provides for young women chasing their dreams and building their confidence. It’s about the thousands of kids in our community that look up to these players as role models, and it’s about persevering against all odds.”
That’s how Marcie Laumann, president of the longest-serving W-League franchise, dating back to 1995, sums up 18 years and counting of Virginia Beach Piranhas soccer.
In more detail, the Piranhas’ story began four years before the 1999 Women’s World Cup.
“When I told my friends back in 1995 that I wanted to found a women’s soccer franchise they all said, ‘a women’s what,?’ ” Laumann said. “Back then, we were somewhat of a novelty. We were the underdog and the community rallied around us to help us through the first few seasons.
“The funny thing is, they never got tired of supporting us and continue to be our source of energy today. The 1999 Women’s World Cup changed all of that as far as public perception and awareness of the game, but we were still on the lower end of the respect totem pole when it came to local sports franchises.”
The Piranhas’ start was slow, just like any franchise’s beginning. The women ended the 1995 season with a 0-6-0 record led by Coach Joanie Murphy. Despite the slow start, the Piranhas’ win total steadily increased for several seasons - from zero in 1995, to five in 1996, to seven in 1997, and to 10 in 2001. Then, the Piranhas put together the season of all seasons in 2003.
That season the Piranhas posted a 14-0-0 record, scoring 33 goals and only allowing five goals to opponents.
“We won four or five games in overtime during the regular season that year,” Laumann said. “That entire team had a great personality about it. We were like a great recipe together - if you take out one ingredient it’s still good, but just not the same.”
On Sunday, August 10, 2003, the Piranhas captured their first and only W-League Championship, beating the Chicago Cobras 1-0 in overtime.
“In overtime of the W-League Championship game here in Virginia Beach, we were playing a tough Chicago team and they were just an amazing defensive team,” Laumann said. “The only goal of the match was scored on a play that started with a sweet back-heel pass from Nettie Hibbs to Janet Davis. Davis hit a one-touch shot that hit the post and ricocheted right back to Mercy Akide. She buried it into the corner of the net and the next thing I remember, I was surrounded by my players. The fans went wild. I dropped to my knees and finally exhaled. A moment like that can only be experienced once.
“I’m proud to say those three players have all grown into exceptional young women. They are a teacher, a youth counselor, and a youth coach, respectively. Two are now married and there are three baby Piranhas between them.”
In the nine seasons since the Piranhas captured the W-League title, the side has continued to build a tradition of excellence while collecting numerous accolades off the field. Those awards include Laumann’s W-League Executive of the Year Awards in 2001 and 2007 and the Piranhas’ W-League Organization of the Year Award in 2003. Laumann was also the first recipient of the Archie Moylan Award in 2000, which recognizes a person’s outstanding courage or humanitarianism.
“The game itself has evolved and the players are head and shoulders above where they were 18 years ago,” Laumann said. “But as a franchise, it is still a struggle every day to compete in the sponsorship arena. We are thankful for our corporate partners. Without them, we would not be able to continue our community programs.”
A force in W-League’s Atlantic Division, the Piranhas saw playoff action once again. The Piranhas faced D.C. United Women in the first round of the playoffs on July 21 at The Maryland Soccerplex, and D.C. United won a hard-fought match, 3-0. The next week, 22 young women headed home or back to college. Some traveled as far away as Nigeria and England.
“The most fulfilling part about this team has been the relationships formed with hundreds of players all across the world,” Laumann said. “We have had over 250 players suit up for the fish and I am always proud to see how far they have gone both on and off the pitch. As long as the Piranhas keep playing, there will be young women who will build their confidence, mold their character, and learn life lessons only a team can teach. Oh, and yes, we will play a little soccer as well.”
The Virginia Beach Piranhas W-League team will kick off its 19th season in 2013. For corporate partner, volunteer, or host family information please visit www.vbpiranhas.com