You can hear Helen Gutierrez’s voice all over the field, cheering on her friends.
“It’s just really cool and emotional,” Gutierrez said.
Those cheers are especially loud for one teammate in particular: her sister Isabella, who goes by Bella.
“I remember practicing with those players and being Bella’s little sister,” said Helen said. “It was all ‘don’t touch her, don’t hurt her, she’s too small,’ but now I’m here and actually training with them.”
Bella and Helen are teaming up on Tormenta FC’s USL W League team, a new semi-pro women’s soccer squad in Statesboro, which offers opportunities that the sisters never had growing up.
“When we started, we had to travel at least an hour to practice,” Bella said. “And now that the practice is in our backyard, playing for a team that’s pushing to win a championship, that is everything we ever wanted.”
Helen and Bella were supposed to play together at Furman University this past year, but a series of knee injuries kept Helen on the sideline.
“My knee injuries started in sophomore year and I just got back, so family and friends here didn’t get the chance to see me play. It’s really exciting,” Helen said.
Now the sisters have more than just each other’s company; they are also training with their younger sibling Viviana, a student at Statesboro High School that will get the chance to run with girls that are college-aged or older.
“They know where the other ones will be, they know how to play and what surface of the foot they’re going to use to get the ball from player to player,” said head coach Jim Robbins. “That’s going to help with the team chemistry.”
All three sisters are Statesboro natives who have a chance to play not just with each other, but for their community.
“To come back and to fight for something so tangible and so real with my family, that’s my sisters and everybody I’ve grown up playing with here, I don’t think you can paint a more picture-perfect story than what you’re finding right here,” Bella said.
Tormenta FC’s USL W League team will have its first match on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Erk Russell Park in Statesboro against SC United Bantams. Tickets are still available.