At 2:10 p.m. on August 28, the Portland Timbers exited the tunnel at Providence Park, holding the hands of players from the Westside Soccer Club.
Two minutes later, national anthem singer Madison Shanley began belting out the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” while 21,144 fans twirled their scarves above their heads.
Three minutes after that—and almost two hours before the Timbers ran out the clock on a 4-2 win over the rival Seattle Sounders—the match kicked off, right on time.
Simultaneously, Portland Timbers’ events and promotions coordinator Kate Flowers, BA ’10 texted team administrator Spencer Childs, BS '12.
The text message is a tradition for Flowers, one of a number of Ducks working for the reigning Major League Soccer champions and its affiliate Thorns (National Women’s Soccer League) and T2 (United Soccer League)—it is her way of showing love to her alma mater while also celebrating a job well done.
Flowers grew up a soccer fan, playing sweeper in her home town of Beaverton, worshipping former US Women’s National Team forward Tiffeny Milbrett, and beating her friends at the EA Sports video game FIFA. Not even the inconvenient West Coast start time for the first Premier League match every Saturday could deter her from following the world’s most popular sport.
“I got into watching soccer when I was in high school, and got into the Timbers at the same time,” said the Manchester City fan. “Now I get up at 4:30 a.m. like it’s a normal thing to do.”
After graduating from the UO, Flowers spent two years helping First Tee of Greater Portland put on life skills events for underserved populations in Portland, then a further two years handling events for Special Olympics Oregon. In 2015 she accepted a position with the Portland Timbers, and has been managing the gameday experience ever since.
“I describe it like being a wedding planner,” said Flowers. “We have to make sure everything runs smoothly. We hold weekly meetings, and a lot of effort goes into every detail.”
Any fan who has seen a Timbers, Thorns, or T2 match has seen the effects of Flowers’ work. Enjoyed the music playing before the game, the national anthem, or the halftime activation? That’s all her and her team. Short of replacing Darlington Nagbe in the midfield and assisting on the goals herself, there isn’t much that doesn’t happen without her assistance on a gameday.
Her work isn’t limited to making sure the match experience for fans is sublime, either. Any time the MLS Cup, won by the Timbers last season, goes on display Flowers oversees that process—“That thing is heavy,” Flowers noted. She also helps put on the annual Stand Together Banquet, which honors the Timbers and Thorns players for their community work while also raising money to help with charitable initiatives.
For a lifelong sports fan, who chose to attend the UO over Gonzaga in part because of the strength of the UO's journalism program and in part because the Zags didn’t have a football team, she has traded in one raucous fan base—the Ducks—for another in the Timbers, whose MLS regular season sellout streak reached 100 matches this season.
“I’m blessed to work for a team that the community is so passionate about,” she said.
- by assistant director of marketing and communications Damian Foley