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Written by: David Cath, ColumbusCrewSC.com
Published: Sept. 2, 2020
While studying at Ashland University, a semester abroad in Ecuador reinforced what Janna Pearson already knew about the power of soccer and, more generally, about the power of the collective.
"It was just amazing," Pearson said about the environment she found herself in and the commitment to soccer in general. "I was able to go to some of the World Cup qualifiers for South Africa in 2009 while I was there, and it was just the coolest thing to see all the people together and loving life and being passionate for their team."
An ardent fan of the game, Pearson's gravitation towards Columbus Crew SC thus came naturally as a kid growing up in Akron.
"I always grew up as a soccer player...just always a soccer fan in general," Pearson said, who is currently in her third year as a Season Ticket Member.
A native of Northeast Ohio, Pearson's first touchpoint with Crew SC came through club and high-school soccer tournaments in Central Ohio, where afterward, she and other teammates would travel to then-Crew Stadium occasionally to watch Black & Gold teams led by the likes of Frankie Hejduk and Guillermo Barros Schelotto take the field.
Those experiences eventually led her and her friends to purchase various ticket packages over the years. From there, that trend evolved into obtaining season tickets after attending graduate school at Youngstown State for Anesthesiology.
With a family full of healthcare workers, Pearson's professional path is what led her to Columbus, where she now serves as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, something that she says is another "natural" part of her makeup.
"I've always felt drawn to helping people. My family has a lot of healthcare workers in it and I've always liked the thought and feeling of giving back to others and the community," Pearson said.
"Doing that as a nurse, number one, is a challenging job at times, and then also, you feel appreciated and you can see the difference you make pretty quickly."
From providing anesthesia for labor & delivery, to emergency surgeries, to orthopedic procedures and so on ("just about everything," she matter-of-factly explained), the excitement Pearson gets from supporting patients provides an impactful sense of purpose, she said.
"It's a really exciting job and you get to take care of people. I feel like it's nice to be able to help people."
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pearson said the precautions have truly changed the practice environment. For someone who described her occupation as literally being "in your face," considering anesthesiology professionals monitor your breathing, among other things of course, the adjustments have been a new reality. Still, strides are being made in the sense of returning to some semblance of normalcy, particularly with more widespread testing practices.
The supportiveness she experiences in the professional realm translates to the Crew supporter community as well, she said.
"It is really awesome when people come together, like with the Save The Crew movement, and just shows how soccer can unite and bring people together."
As active as Pearson has been in typical matchday settings as a supporter, she admitted it's been different following the Crew through digital means.
"It's been interesting because I always loved going out with my friends. A lot of times I'll take a friend with me, using my second ticket, to just share the love of the game with them and share that experience because I think gamedays are so much fun," she said. "It's very different watching the games by yourself or with one or two people than in a stadium with 20,000 people."
When asked about what she misses the most about matchdays, her response brought up an earlier note of hers, that being her connection with people.
"I just like the overall experience. The chants within Nordecke. I love the team coming over at the end of the game, and taking pictures with children and adults, and saying 'Thank you fans for being here. We appreciate you. We see you.'"
Whether it was her experience playing pick-up soccer in South America, or helping strangers as a livelihood, or meeting new friends through Crew SC matches, the power of the collective rings through.