Meet The Supporters: Westen Shelton
January 23, 2019
This is part of our weekly series where we meet some of the people who will be joining the Assembly Line this year. Keep an eye out every Wednesday for a new segment! Please reach out to Westen on Twitter if you are interested in taking part in this.
Eric Gibbs: When did you start watching soccer, and what teams do you support?
Westen Shelton: I only truly got into soccer last year. I’ve been playing in a rec league in Lansing for a few years which started to get me a little more into the sport. One day, a good buddy of mine from the team invited me to go to a Lansing United game. I didn’t know they existed, so I took the opportunity to check it out. He didn’t tell me he was part of a supporters group, so I was a little surprised and thrown off when I walked up, and he was in a group of people standing and signing as the game started. But I joined in, and slowly started to really dig the atmosphere and energy they brought to the game. I was pretty much hooked after that, and I’ve been falling in love with the sport the more I watch and research it.
Obviously, I will be supporting the Ignite this year. I also still support the Lansing United Women’s team, which was an extremely good team last year. On the MLS side, I support the Portland Timbers. EPL, it’s Tottenham. I’m also starting to watch Bundesliga and seeing what team catches my eye from there.
EG: What is your favorite live soccer moment ever?
WS: I’ll cop out and call it a tie between the Milk Cup Semis and Milk Cup Finals with Lansing United from last year. Those were two of the best attended games from the Ransom all year, so the atmosphere was awesome in both. The Semis in particular were an absolute rollercoaster, and only my 2nd live soccer game ever. Watching Joe White nail a PK, and then save one to win the game was incredible. It’s not a stretch to say that game kind of accelerated me getting into the sport. The Finals were also fantastic. Stevee Pouna jumping the fence to celebrate with us after his goal was definitely my highlight of the season.
EG: What are you most looking forward to about the Ignite season coming up?
WS: From a supporter side, I’m really excited to see what we can build. The increased marketing and exposure this team will have means we have a chance to reach a lot of people and hopefully build a huge supporters section. I’m also looking forward to travel to Madison this year and use soccer as an opportunity to explore a city that I’ve heard a lot of good things about.
From the team side, I’m definitely excited about Nate’s vision for how he wants to play the game. From watching how Lan U played, and from interviews he has done on a few different mediums, and from my own e-mail exchanges with him for the site, I just get really pumped about his vision, passion, and work ethic. I’m certainly happy with the players who have been signed so far too. When I compare some of our guys with some of the other League One signings so far, I don’t see why we can’t compete for a title this year.
From a USL standpoint, I’m excited about having way more live games to go this year. It will be nice to be able to watch all of our road games too, and not rely on frantically refreshing twitter as the only way to find out what is going on.
EG: Out of all of the players and coaching staff that have been announced thus far, which signing are you most intrigued about heading into training camp and the beginning of the regular season?
WS: I think we have several guys that can make it to the next level, which is exciting. I’d say I’m most excited about Rafa though. I’ve heard so much hype from Lansing United fans, that I’m just excited to watch him for myself. And some of his highlights speak for themselves.
EG: What are your main hobbies outside of soccer?
WS: I’ve been involved with basketball since I was 5, both playing and watching. So I watch every Pistons games (unfortunately), and love playing whenever I have the chance. I also love the Lions (unfortunately).
Outside of sports, I’m an avid gamer. I play pretty much anything, though RPGs are my preferred genre. I also have a really awesome wife that I love hanging out with. We like spending time with our dogs and hiking whenever possible. We went to Yellowstone for our honeymoon to explore, and it was easily the best vacation I’ve ever had.
I’m also starting to really dig traveling in general. I’ve been able to go to Austin, Dallas, St. Louis and Chicago in the past 2 years to visit friends or for work, and I find it’s fun to try and get a feel for the culture for the city, and I always try and hit up some sort of history museum when I’m in a town. One part I really like about soccer is that traveling to away games is so ingrained into the culture of the sport, which is going to give me a lot of opportunities to see new cities.
EG: Tell me something you love about the Lansing area.
WS: I think everyone in this series has said this, but Lansing really is an awesome mix of “city life” without being big enough to have some of the annoying parts of that. There is a lot of cool stuff to do around the city, but it isn’t as crowded as Grand Rapids or Detroit can be on certain days. In 30 minutes you can be in a college town, you can be in the city next to the capital, or you could be driving past some quiet farms. I moved here 3 years ago from Metro Detroit, and if all my family and friends followed me to Lansing, I would honestly much prefer living here.
EG: What would you tell anyone who is interested in joining the Assembly Line?
WS: If you already love soccer, I’d say that the Assembly Line and the Ignite are going to be one of the best chances we have to grow the sport locally, and we are going to need everyone we can in order to do that.
If you have an interest in the sport, and are curious about it, I would say from experience that the one of the best ways to get into the sport is to hang out with the supporters. The energy when you watch the game with supporters brings something very special to the live experience, and you’ll be surrounded by other fans who can help you learn more about the sport as well.
Previous “Meet The Supporters” Articles: