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But first, coffee: The hottest item inside the NWSL athlete village

Photo Courtesy Alyse LaHue

National Women’s Soccer League players made many sacrifices to compete in the ongoing NWSL Challenge Cup, an abbreviated competition which replaced the six-month season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NWSL players are isolated in suburban Salt Lake City, Utah, spending a month entirely shuttling between their respective accommodations, competition fields, and campus cafeteria with minimal interaction from the outside world. Many questions had to first be answered for the 200 or so players to move forward with the tournament — including COVID-19 testing, health and safety protocols, and guaranteed salaries and benefits regardless of participation.

Still, as the competition neared, one crucial question needed to be addressed: How were they going to get good coffee?

“Yes, we wanted to make sure we could accommodate everything, but I think the resounding, almost necessity, for the players was to have their morning coffee,” NWSL Players Association co-executive director Brooke Elby said. “We brought that to the league like, hey, this is going to be vastly important for everyone’s happiness and wellness – is a good cup of coffee in the morning.”

The NWSL got the message. The NWSL got the message. Working in conjunction with the NWSLPA, U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association and U.S. Soccer, NWSL manager of player services Josie Hanes connected with a local coffee truck, 801 Coffee Roasters, to have premium caffeinated drinks for sale next to the players’ training fields each day. What might seem like an insignificant luxury (particularly compared to some high-end amenities that leagues like the NBA are offering players inside their respective bubbles) goes a long way toward player happiness in a coffee-crazed league.

“It’s a nice little perk after training to be able to just walk up and get a coffee,” Washington Spirit midfielder Rose Lavelle said. “I think that was probably something a lot of people were a little nervous about, was not getting their coffee fix. So, it’s been a great solution and it’s been very tasty as well.”

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