WAUWATOSA – Kids and soccer are like peanut butter and jelly, forming a perfect combination. With that comes another addition, connecting Milwaukee’s only outdoor professional team with the children in the area.
On any given Saturday, Hart Park in Wauwatosa bleeds blue. With songs and cheers, the fan base known as “The Flood” welcomes anyone, especially kids, as they cheer on their team, the Milwaukee Torrent.
“It’s a lot of fun. You know, the kids love it,” said Marla McKenna.
McKenna is a relatively new fan of the game, and she’s all in on the Torrent.
“They’re a family. One team. One city and you know, getting the community involved. You know, it’s Milwaukee’s professional outdoor soccer team and we love it! To get the community involved and get people out here,” said McKenna.
McKenna is a children’s book author and was on a local television show when a chance meeting with the Milwaukee Torrent’s Owner and Manager, Andreas Davi, turned her on to the team and the sport.
“I was promoting ‘I’m a Secret Superhero,’ one of my favorite children’s books last year,” said McKenna.
“She told me what she does. All I said is 'you should write a book about soccer,'” said Davi.
“I was like 'how cool was that?' Yes, absolutely I would. I want to write that book,” said McKenna.
Months later, the children’s book “A Soccer Summer Dream With The Milwaukee Torrent” was published.
“It’s a fun, family-friendly book and it’s just important how the kids work together and make their dream come true. They’re twins and it’s how they work together to make their dream come true of playing on the field with the Milwaukee Torrent," said McKenna.
“It’s awesome. I don’t think that many clubs, it doesn’t matter what level they are, who have basically a soccer book that they got mentioned in or even that it’s basically about them. It means a lot to me and it’s also a result of all the work that we do for the community," said Davi.
Reading the book, the passion for the game comes through and so does a broader theme.
“I think that’s the most important thing for kids to understand -- that they can do anything they set their minds to, and don’t let anyone stop them -- and I think, you know, but they have to understand they have to work hard for that, you know? To have patience and perseverance,” said McKenna.
It’s something McKenna knows very well, starting her career in marketing and advertising before a sudden detour took her down the path of writing.
“It’s all from a fun day at Miller Park. I don’t want to give the secret away, but something crazy happened to my family and that day, almost 10 years ago, changed my life. Four children’s books later, I’m working on another children’s book,” said McKenna.
At Hart Park, The Flood continues to bring kids into their fold -- as do Davi and McKenna.
“There is so much more we can teach the kids than just the soccer or just the books, and the two of us, we can do the part that we do and we are successful with it, so then everything is great. If we have so many people do good things -- we just do our little part,” said Davi.
“I teach patience, positivity and perseverance. You know, don’t give up. Follow your dreams. You know, believe in yourself and you can do whatever you want to do in life, and I just think that’s really important for kids to get that message," said McKenna.
Part of the proceeds from all of McKenna’s books go to the Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation to save and rescue dogs, and Rick Springfield matches all of her donations.