Girls Soccer Trail Blazer, Cutters Board Member & Cutters Mom
You can still find Cutters Soccer Hall of Fame winner Patti Spieth spending many of her weekends and weeknights on the soccer pitch, but now she is cheering on her two sons who play in Cutters Travel program. Patti is a Bloomington native who grew up playing on boys travel teams at a time when competitive girls soccer wasn’t developed here in Bloomington. Soccer wasn’t even played at Bloomington High Schools. Despite these odds, she still managed to work herself to the highest level of soccer in the USA.
As a competitor, she was tough and gritty, but she put team first. She was a representative for her state and regional girl's teams. She competed for and won a State Cup Championship as part of a women's club team. She was selected as an alternate for the US National team and was a three-year starter for the University of Connecticut.
Patti would not have been selected for any of these situations if she didn't have a high degree of sportsmanship and integrity to go along with her skill and work ethic. These teams and their parent institutions desire individuals who will reflect positively upon them and project the institution's and the team's values to competitors and fans of the game.
Reflecting on what soccer has brought to her, Patti said “my experience with soccer as a player has been the building of positive, well rounded, character traits. For example, the understanding of my role within a team; the reliance on one another; the trust and empathy that goes into being “relied upon”; the ability to be sensitive to others; and the thrill of competing against others and oneself. The game of soccer supports both physical and mental health and teaches the importance of working together to navigate successful wins and disappointing losses.”
Patti started playing soccer in the 70’s at age 6, when she signed herself up for a girl travel team while living in Seattle. Patti’s team traveled around Seattle playing other local teams and playing in a handful of tournaments. The most memorable tournament was in Vancouver, Canada. “Although it rained for many of the games, it was such fun to travel with the team, stay in hotels, meet players from a different country, and play some incredibly good teams. Like what players, today, experience while participating in the Cutters Travel Program,” says Patti.
At age 10, Patti and her family moved to Bloomington where she started playing with the local Girls and Boys Club coed league and quickly moved on to a local boys’ travel team, coached by the late Nick Matavuli. Playing with the boys team “really challenged my skills with the increased speed of the game,” said Patti.
Much of her childhood was spent practicing 3-4 times per week, with games most weekends during the Spring and Fall, and indoor leagues during the winter. Summers were spent at Rainbow Soccer camp in Raleigh North Carolina run by Anson Dorrance (the women’s national team coach and the coach of UNC women’s team).
Things are Heating Up in High School
High School soccer in the 80’s was not yet “a thing” for either boys or girls, so during high school Patti played with a local boys’ travel team, named the Pampas, coached by the late George Oclander an Argentinean that was very knowledgeable of the game. They traveled the state and region participating in tournaments in Virginia, Washington DC and Nashville Tenn.
While in high school, Patti also played on the U16 Indiana state girl's team and for the regional girl's team. Her senior year, she played on the Carmel U19 girl's team that won the Indiana state cup championship in 1987.
Also while in high school Patti started with the Olympic Development Program after being asked to join the Indiana State Team, and then was selected to attend the regional camp in Wisconsin and on to the national camp in Orlando.
UCONN and US National Team
During her freshman year at the University of Connecticut (UCONN), she was invited, as part of the Midwest regional team, to try out for the US National Team. She flew to Orlando, Florida over the Thanksgiving break for try outs and was chosen as an alternate.
While attending the University of Connecticut, as part of this Division 1 womens soccer team, Patti played in several games during her freshman year and was a starter on the team for the remainder of her four-year collegiate career.
After playing for 4 years at UCONN Patti returned to Bloomington after college and continued to play in the adult rec indoor and outdoor leagues. She also enjoyed refereeing travel and high school games, both boys and girls, until her early 40s. It was then that she was inducted into the Monroe County Sports Hall of Fame.
“Soccer provided me time to just have fun, don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of hard work that took precedence over spending time with friends, but I always felt at ease on the field, it was like a different mindset, one without worries,” says Patti. “It is hard for me to remember specifics of any games or plays, as for me “playing” took me to a different world, one where I was focused, engaged in the sport, competitive, and full of energy and drive to win, that the intensity of this “different world” always stayed on the field.”
Today, Patti has two incredibly skilled boys that are living the dream of playing soccer. Both participate in Cutters Travel program and the Olympic Development Program (ODP). She even met her husband Jim Suttner via soccer while playing together on the Pampas Travel team. Talk about a family who knows the value of soccer!
“It is so much fun for me and my husband to watch our boys excel and feel the excitement when they take on a player, make a move, and then score! We love seeing them reach their juggle goals, or when they “go in for a 50/50 ball and win it”. We know they are building lasting relationships with kids on their Cutters teams, and from other teams from around the state and on the ODP teams. Not only that but they are learning such valuable life skills too.”
As a way to help Cutters Soccer Club fulfil their mission, Patti decided to join their Board of Directors. “We are so lucky to have Patti on our Board. She comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience, and has been a wonderful help getting us through COVID, drive new initiatives and is always willing to help lend a hand when we need it,” says Samantha King, or Director of Development.