Thorns FC: Mahalo nui loa, Mana

I won’t pretend that I haven’t had some hard words to say about you as a player.  You’ve had something of a tough run since your first magical season in 2013.  Traded to Houston.  Returned here.  In and out of the XI in the past two seasons.

This season on and off the bench and, lately, injured.

And, also, this.

For all your ups and downs as a player, you never seemed to give less than you could.

You never “gave away the gift”.

And now we’re going to give you away, for what appears to be the final time.

Mana Shim the person I know only from what she has given to the public and from which I have formed my image of her – as I put it back in the spring; “you just want to give her such a hug”.  I know Mana Shim the person no more than most of you do, that is, as a “celebrity”; someone that you and I know some things about but who hasn’t the slightest idea who we are.

Mana the Person-as-a-celebrity?  What’s not to love about her?  Adorable?  Smart?  Quirky?  Loves soccer, and cooking, and coffee, and going out on the town?  She’s kind of like Portland brought to life if Portland was a smallish, youngish, girlish midfielder.

But as a player…

She always seemed to me like a shorter, cuter Takayuki Suzuki, the guy who scored something like 4 goals in 77 games for the old USL Timbers.  After Mana’s bright promise of 2013 faded…never quite good enough.  Kinda useful at times, but…not quite big enough, not quite fast enough, not quite tricky enough or deadly enough or scoring enough, to play in the physical world of the NWSL.

I just didn’t get it.

Until now, now that she’s gone.

And, suddenly, I remember all the things that I loved about her.  Her energy.  Her excitement at being paid, actually paid, in real money, to play a kid’s game.  Her love of living, her enjoyment of Portland, and her heartiness for her life here.

Her bravery, repeated many times, in taking great chances to follow her dream; first at Santa Clara, then here, now, apparently, in Sweden, where she is said to be traveling to try her luck in the Damallsvenskan.

Her giving everything she had on the pitch, every moment, every match.

And I also realized that with Mana’s departure we also lose another tiny piece of 2013.  She was one of only four plankowners from that original championship team left in Portland:

Christine Sinclair

Tobin Heath

Allie Long

And, until today, Mana Shim.

Perhaps you really don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

Until yesterday we had Mana Shim, and all I was wont to do was to give her stick about her play for our Thorns FC.

Today we don’t, and all I can think of to say is; thank you, Mana Shim.

Thank you for everything you’ve done, everything you are, everything you brought to us and with that bound us to you.  Thank you for what you gave and gave without stinting.  “Wherever you may wander we will always follow you…we are the Thorns supporters and forever we’ll be true”

Maikaʻi pōmaikaʻi, Mana.

Fare well.