By SF City
This time, we’ll be hearing from Alexia Bogdis, teacher and leukemia survivor. We asked her about her personal story, how she got involved with SF City, her battle with leukemia and her relationship with the Northsiders, and her concepts about what a supporter owned team can do for the community.
I was born at Kaiser Hospital on Geary Street, and raised in Burlingame, where I currently reside. I attended College of San Mateo, Berkeley, Notre Dame de Namur, and SF State…a real local!
I have always had an awareness of the various soccer teams in the area because of my family. I learned of SF City FC through the supporters group, the Northsiders. My brother is an avid football fan and had been talking about SF City and the Northsiders since 2014. I was stricken with acute leukemia and was hospitalized for many months over the year while receiving chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. One day my brother brought a huge banner to my room that said “We Stand With Alexia” signed by members of the team and the Northsiders. On subsequent stays at UCSF my room overlooked Kezar, and I could see the games on Sundays. I’d text my brother and he’d say “I’m waving the — flag up front” and I’d know where he was immediately. One of the first things I did while recovering was help paint a tifo, and it grew from there. At my first game, Charles Wollin was kind enough to seat me in the announcers booth when I was not strong enough to be in the bleachers. It’s now a family thing. Even our 83 year-old mom goes to games proudly wearing her scarf.
Supporter Ownership means actively and mindfully “consuming” the entertainment and excitement of the game. It means connecting to the individuals who comprise the team, and supporting both the players and the organization and the community in meaningful ways. I’ve never seen a relationship between players and fans like this. The supporters have a voice in the direction of the team. The corporate sponsors and investors are working with the supporters to produce an organization that serves the community and builds a love of the sport not just selling a “product” for their own material gain.
I was never an athlete and have never been a team sport player, but I’m a professional fan. Ha ha! I absolutely love baseball, of course the Giants, and have gone to games my whole life. I also used to go to every 49ers game. When I travel I always try to get to a ball game. I started attending soccer games when I was eight; my brother’s AYSO games. My sister and I would sit on blankets and another team mom got us Pom-poms so we could be the “cheerleaders”. I love watching golf too. And I’m a mellow but fierce SFCFC supporter.
I believe individuals and organizations are duty bound to support each other and their community. Everything is interconnected. Those with gifts should share them with others, and there is enough prosperity to share so everyone benefits. Whether that means volunteering at the Food Bank, mentoring youth, beautifying the community or lifting someone’s spirits we all have something to give. The Northsiders’ commitment to serving the community is unparalleled. I participated in the Light the Night event with them. Getting to carry the white light of a survivor is something I actually can’t describe in words. I’m working on some ideas around youth mentoring which is a great need in our community. I love the fact that again the group isn’t just a consumer of the sport but feels the responsibility and desire to be a positive force in the community.
I currently work at a non-public school in San Francisco that serves students in elementary and high school. I’ve taught almost all the grades in public school as well as special education. Now I am an administrator so I get to interact with students on a different level. I love to walk, hike, attend yoga classes, go to the gym, am interested in art, clean eating (with decadent treats like champagne and French fries!) and even some TV shows. Recently I’ve become a moviegoer and have done more travel in an attempt to see old friends and new places.
My battle with Leukemia: this topic gets me teary immediately… one day I was super fit, strong and healthy. I had a couple of moments in March 2015 when I felt lightheaded, and I thought it was stress…I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with strep throat, so I went to Walgreens to pick up my medicine…and my life changed forever. I passed out in the store, was taken to Peninsula Hospital and within an hour was told I had Acute leukemia(AML). It was a year and a half process of chemo and ultimately a stem cell transplant from an anonymous donor. Neither of my siblings was a match. I spent a total of about 100 days in the hospital and 4 months initially recovering, another eight months after that. That’s a lot of time for reflection and coming to terms with my demons. Immediately upon diagnosis I was transferred to UCSF, the best healthcare facility I could have hoped for. My family and friends were key in my fight. As I said, my brother rallied supporters from all over the world, many through his soccer connections. My room was covered with letters of support, I felt like I was a warrior and I had everyone behind me giving me strength when I had none. I am careful to never say I kicked cancer’s ass. I won the battle. I respect the strength of the enemy and I know the power of positive thinking, active participation in treatment, faith and support, grit and determination, grace and gratitude. I’m always mindful of those who did not have the outcome I have. It tears me up.
I see youth soccer as an activity that focuses on self-control, striving to improve, physical fitness and working with others towards a common goal. I’m currently working with students who have emotional and behavioral issues. There’s one in particular who is quite good at the sport, and plays in a mid-peninsula Sunday league. His goal is to play in PDL and eventually on a pro team. He is lucky his father supports him in this. He was headed down a bad path and his goals and participation in soccer have saved him. We have seen him improve his academic performance, become an active participant in his education, and become a role model to younger peers. One incentive for him that I was able to provide was the possibility of meeting some of the players, playing with them or talking to them, and I want to get him some gear from the team store. It’s really motivating to him. He’s starting to think about SFCFC instead of the Dragons!
I like the idea of reaching out to youth who may not have the opportunity to go to colleges we typically think of as feeder schools, to tap into their talents and offer them a chance to fulfill their dreams while grabbing some great talent.
Where I see the club in 10 years: we will all be old! The players will change but the legends will remain. I hope the fan base expands, for the sport in general. I think the intimate feeling of the Supporters will always be part of the organization as long as the vision of the founders continues.