In each of the four National Women’s Soccer League seasons, the Rose City Riveters have presented a trophy to the Thorns player who exemplifies what the supporters consider to be vanguard traits: connecting the spirit of the club with the city’s character, and their selfless contributions to both. These trophies have evolved over the years and intentionally carry an element describable as “We-Can-Do-It-Ourselves” if you may. Utilizing the makers and engineers at the local creative space ADX Portland, this year’s trophy features a reclaimed industrial gear, hand-crafted rose made of copper and steel, and fabricated steel background featuring the Riveters badge. It also has some fancy words on it which are about to be explained.
Some schools of thought insist that it is defense which wins games. The Rose City Riveters have determined that its consummate defender and backline leader has won not just hardware but their hearts. Emily Menges, who has worn her fervency like a badge of honor for her whole career, was voted as Player of the Year after a week-long poll contributed to by hundreds of Riveters. To commemorate this choice, Menges was presented this unique trophy after the final home match of the 2016 season on September 11th.
Throughout this season Menges has been a standout, a vital play-maker who has helped to keep the Thorns in the NWSL playoff race. She has shown to be a steady, reliable and club-minded player during a season loaded with instability thanks to national team call-ups, unfortunate injuries and the dreams of success for all who played at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Her individual production on the pitch is the stuff of highlight reels. Amazing as those efforts have been, when combined with her numerous displays of genuine appreciation to her teammates, supporters and everyday fans of the Thorns (those smiles and finger-points and waves which are less noticeable by the large cameras but noted and shared all the same by individuals), they have endeared Menges to us as a step above all.
It is interesting to note that the 2016 Riveters Player of the Year choice was the first year where the figures showed significant parity among the candidates rather than a singular, distinctive pick. This should be considered as high praise not just to the choice of Menges, but to all who were close in the running, who were voted for en masse, as well as those who have been considered in the past. We are fortunate to have a proud club, one that is full of talented and impassioned players to consider and honor.
Congratulations to Emily Menges, thank you to all of the players, and Onward Rose City.