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How support staff ensures families at home remain comfortable during MLS is Back Tournament

It’s been over three weeks since the Crew first landed in Orlando, Fla., as many had to say temporary goodbyes to families, loved ones, and pets as the team traveled to compete in the MLS is Back Tournament for ultimately an undetermined amount of time.

Now, as the club’s southern sojourn continues with a Round of 16 match on July 28 vs. Minnesota United, the care for those back in Columbus continues to be addressed by members of the club's support staff.

Tasked with responsibilities spanning from the First Team to the Academy, Crew SC Player Care Coordinator McKenzie Bostic’s role can be described as very much player-centric. Whether it be assisting with onboarding during initial arrivals, coordinating housing needs, or working interdepartmentally with Front Office initiatives, Bostic has led the charge in ensuring not only the players’ needs are met, but also the needs of those who players have had to leave behind during tournament play.

Thankfully, a majority of players have their own “support staff,” such as family members or loved ones who are making as much a sacrifice as the players are, said Technical Director & VP of Soccer Operations Pat Onstad.

“We are also fortunate because we have wonderful families who support these guys, and we are lucky they are making sacrifices too,” Onstad said. “I think our families sacrifice as much as the players do. We are proud that we a good tightknit group, but we are also proud that we have really good people within our organization.”

Whether the player has a family, a pet, or other obligations they'd typically be able to care for during a standard road trip, Bostic and the support staff have been charged with stepping in and serving as a logistical organizer to ensure everything runs smoothly.

“Right now, my main role is, I was kept back in-market to be the point person for full support of all the families, both players and the staff,” Bostic said.

Before the team departed, Bostic was responsible for meeting with each player individually to understand their needs and to secure the resources to do so. Those needs included things such as arranging grocery delivery services or confirming nannies for mothers who are home alone.

“Most of the work on my side came prior to the team’s departure. So it was providing resources to all the families, whether that was reaching out individually to each player to gain an understanding of what services they would like to have. … Just grasping what they would need while they were gone.”

For families with children or players with wives who are expecting, the support staff has been able to ensure those families and expecting mothers are receiving regular household grocery deliveries to ease any logistical concern, as well as to maintain ideal health and safety protocol.

In the case of non-English-speaking players, Bostic said most have had internal support systems to help during this time, whether it be family members, a partner, or a friend. Still, for newcomers where language-barrier concerns come into play, Spanish-speaking support staff members have been on-call to ensure their needs continue to be taken care of.

Speaking of being taken care of, Bostic said a majority of her time currently has been dedicated to Vito Wormgoor, who has been recovering from ankle surgery since last week.

A father to four young girls, Wormgoor’s family didn’t officially come stateside until the regular season started. As the family looked for a house to purchase in Central Ohio back in early March, the onset of the pandemic and the announcement of the tournament shifted their plans. During Wormgoor’s stay in Orlando, the family planned to travel back to the Netherlands to stay with family in the meantime.

Of course, the situation took a turn after Wormgoor suffered an ankle injury in the tournament’s opening match and headed back to Columbus to be evaluated. Now with his family back in Europe, Bostic has been responsible for coordinating his medical appoints and transportation, in addition to food delivery services as he rehabilitates.

As the Crew extends its time in Orlando, Bostic and the rest of support staff in Columbus remain in constant communication with each player, and as Onstad said, that’s the most important element at this point in time.

“McKenzie has done a really good job making sure the families are aware of what’s going on. She’s reached out to them. We’ve sent the families some stay-behind gifts, some flowers and whatnot, but I think the biggest thing is that we are in communication with them and that they are taken care of.”

Kickoff on Tuesday vs. Minnesota United is set for 8 p.m. ET and can be seen on ESPN and the ESPN App, or listened to on 97.1 FM The Fan (English) or (Spanish).

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