Somerset, N.J. (Monday, February 1, 2010) – The New Jersey Sports Writers Association (NJSWA) held its annual awards banquet yesterday at Pines Manor in Edison, New Jersey, and Sky Blue FC left the event with multiple pieces of hardware. The NJSWA honored Sky Blue FC as its Team of the Year, and team captain Christie Rampone was named its Sportswoman of the Year.
“I am very honored to be recognized and treated so wonderfully by the New Jersey Sports Writers,” Rampone said of being recognized by the NJSWA. “I have worked really hard since I left Monmouth University in 1997, and to see all my effort and dedication be recognized feels great. New Jersey is packed with so many professional sports teams and great college programs, and that makes this acknowledgment mean so much more.”
The talent and determination of Rampone shined after she took over as player/coach of Sky Blue FC in the final weeks of the 2009 season. She became the cornerstone of a Cinderella run by the team to the inaugural Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) Championship, and she hopes that her ambitious attitude can serve as a true inspiration to the many people who look up to her.
“I hope that young female athletes can learn from my career,” she continued. “I never imagined myself being a captain, coach or leader. Those things happened for me because I always lead by example. If you put the team first and never quit, people will follow you.”
Sky Blue FC reached the postseason this past year as the fourth and final playoff seed, immediately facing the difficult task of having to win three games on the road in 10 days. Each of its three matches was also against clubs that they had not defeated during the regular season. With all the odds stacked against them, the team allowed only a single goal in those three games combined to eventually emerge as WPS Champions. The story grew even further immediately after the final, when Rampone revealed that she led the team on that run all while being in the early stages of pregnancy. At the conclusion of the season, she was named the WPS 2009 Hint Water Sportswoman of the Year.
“We are honored by the recognition of both Christie Rampone and Sky Blue FC by the New Jersey Sports Writers Association,” General Manager Gerry Marrone said of the accolades from the NJSWA. “It is a great achievement for us to be recognized by an organization of such stature and prestige.”
With Rampone at home in the final stages of her second pregnancy, Marrone was asked to address the group of over 1,000 media members and New Jersey sports supporters in acceptance of the awards. While delivering a powerful speech about the team and its captain, he closed with a heartfelt message.
“Last year, we came from nowhere to make history as the inaugural Women’s Professional Soccer Champions,” he remarked. “We invite you to live the dream with us as we defend our Championship this season- to share our history, to tell our story. The best way you can do that is to come to a game and see for yourself. And if anyone asks how you came our way, just tell them Christie Rampone sent you.”