The Rush. A household name we are all too familiar with. Whether you bleed the “Rush Blue”, live by the “Rush Way”, wear the “Rush R” on your chest, are the most boisterous of nervous, cheering parents, or are simply a Rush fan, it is no secret that the Rush is doing big things. As one of the worlds largest youth soccer clubs servicing over 40,000 players, including 27 clubs scattered throughout the United States and 22 countries throughout the world, the Rush has continuously produced some of the most elite soccer players. As players of the Rush we would all like to say that our raw talent got us that full ride scholarship to the college of our choice, and our parents wouldn't hesitate to say that we got the opportunity to play in the country’s most elite youth tournaments, or at collegiate and professional level because “we worked harder than all the other kids out there.” But the truth is that we wouldn't have any of those opportunities if it weren't for the work done within the walls of the Rush offices across the world; if it weren't for the brilliant and crazy visionary mind of our President and C.E.O., Tim Schulz. However, what we as players, parents or fans may not know is that soccer is not the only thing that the Rush is good at.
In fact, let me draw your attention away from the metaphorical spotlight pointed on the success of our teams and players and bring it to the literal spotlight that is pointed at a member of the Rush Board of Directors and one of Hollywood’s most talented movie directors, Michael Hoffman. Hoffman has written and directed some Hollywood hits such as One Fine Day, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Emperor’s Club and his most successful movie, The Last Station. He has worked with actors such as George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer, Cameron Diaz and Helen Mirren (who was nominated as Best Actress in the 67th Golden Globe Awards for her performance in his production, The Last Station).
But don’t let that spotlight shine too brightly on his box office hits, instead Hoffman insists it shine on the humanitarian work that Hoffman and his family do for the refugee community that surrounds their hometown in Boise, Idaho. Hoffman’s son, Atticus played for Idaho Rush throughout his youth soccer career. During the summer of Atticus’ U13 year his team was defeated in State Cup leaving him with a free summer (which most kids would be thrilled about). But like most parents, the Hoffman’s did not want to see Atticus’ summer wasted in front of the TV and so they gave Atticus an ultimatum, get a job or do a community service project. Atticus took the opportunity to reach out to the growing refugee population in Boise and started a summer soccer camp to clothe and feed the refugee children that came out to participate. What started out as an idea of getting about 30 refugee children together to play turned into a camp of 80 kids in the very first day and has since grown to turn up a whopping 150 refugee children this year. And to top it off they have started funding a scholarship program to get the top talent from their camps onto competitive Rush teams in Boise.
Hoffman says that he originally joined the Rush family just like any other parent supporting their kids. But he truly got involved with the Rush because, he saw “The potential soccer has for building bridges, creating community and bringing people together from different cultures.” Furthermore he says that, “The most common request we get from refugee families as they get off the plane is soccer balls. That really says something about what this game means around the world and the potential it has for pulling really diverse groups of people together.” And as we all know, once you get involved with the Rush, there grows a love for the game that is rarely found in the United States but easily found in almost every other country around the world. Hoffman says, “And of course, I got involved because I just love the game.”
So, when you look at the Rush as a whole you will undoubtedly see the “Rush R” embroidered on thousands of uniforms and soccer balls in countries far and wide, but if you look closer you will see the faces behind the success of the Rush. You will see people like Lindsey Horan who has made history as the first woman to sign a professional contract straight out of high school, Brad Freidel, who is one of the best goal keepers in the history of US Soccer and you will see Michael Hoffman, one of Hollywood’s best directors and a visionary helper of people. But most importantly, when you dig beneath the layers of Rush followers you will see that the Rush is made of amazing people with exquisite stories, experiences and perspectives all sharing one common bond…. love for soccer.
- Danielle Foxhoven