Tracey Ristow was all smiles throughout the final day of PepsiCo Showdown Girls Community Showcase on July 19 at Olympic Park in Schaumburg.
Watching her daughter, Jacobs senior defender Madison Ristow, run up and down the pitch for the last time in an Eagles uniform on Field 1 brought back a wave of memories. Madison Ristow, who plans to continue her career at Carroll University in Wisconsin this fall, started playing soccer nearly 13 years ago.
“This means the world to all of us, in particular to the seniors who have played travel club together for many years,” Tracey Ristow said. “The thought of not playing in their spring season was crushing, just heartbreaking. So, to have this experience was amazing.”
After the coronavirus pandemic shutdown all professional, college and high school sports this past spring, leaders from the PepsiCo Showdown quickly laid out options to ensure players, families and communities had an opportunity to shine – on and off the field – when a safe moment presented itself during this historic period in time.
For many of the girls players, the two-day celebration and event, represented the first time they had played with their high school teammates since 2019.
Tracey Ristow admitted any doubt of concern over Madison playing in a soccer tournament with a big crowd vanished when she noticed the precautions taken by the PepsiCo Showdown staff and team parents from each of the community teams.
“When we walked out here on Saturday (July 18), it hit me,” Tracey Ristow said. “As moms who have been sitting on the sidelines together for the last 10 years, this is it.
“It’s their last game together – win or lose. It’s bittersweet, but we’re all so glad we had the opportunity to play again since the (spring high school) season didn’t end the way we wanted it to.”
Daniela Villanueva relished watching her daughter, Emily Mundo, suit up one last time for Eisenhower. Mom closed her eyes several times during her match against Lake Park on the final day.
“I was nervous for Emily, to see her play again,” Villanueva said. “Emily loves playing, and I love seeing her play. I just closed my eyes a few times.”
Villanueva pointed out she made the best out of the rare opportunity to watch her daughter play in 2020 by bringing most of her family.
“It was very special,” Daniela Villanueva said. “This was Emily’s very last game in high school.
“We were all very excited, looking forward to this and thankful for this opportunity. It was really hard and sad not to see her play in the spring.”
Scott Toole proudly walked around Olympic Park donning a Metea Valley t-shirt in support of his daughter’s team, school and community. Due to Covid-19, Livvy Toole, an incoming senior this fall, missed out on the opportunity to build on a strong rookie varsity season, which included scoring her first career goal to lead the Mustangs to a 3-0 win over Oswego East in a Class 3A regional in 2019.
“It was a good thing to have my daughter out here playing with her friends and teammates,” Scott Toole said. “It was fun for every. It’s really nice they had the opportunity, especially since they thought a month ago the season was all over and that they would never play again this year.”
Bio on reporter: Bob Narang has been covering prep recruiting and sports for the past 25 years. His work also appears in the Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald, Athlon Sports and the DeKalb Daily Chronicle.