Maya Forrester Inspires Seattle Reign Players, Fans With Her Singing

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Maya Forrester, 12, sings the National Anthem for the Seattle Reign's playoff game.


By Gail Wood

oly ortho logoAt age 12, Maya Forrester did what famous singers like James Taylor, Christina Aguilera and Taylor Smith couldn’t do.

She sang, without flaw, the National Anthem, bringing soccer fans and players at the Seattle Reign’s playoff game last weekend to their feet, cheering.

“She’s just amazing,” said Dave Forrester, Maya’s father and biggest fan. “She was born to it. You have it. Or you don’t.”

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Maya Forrester, 12, sings the National Anthem for the Seattle Reign’s playoff game.

Clearly, the sweet-smiling Maya has that “it” factor. Over the summer, Maya, now a seventh grader at Washington Middle School, sang the Nation Anthem at seven professional soccer matches, six of them in Seattle with the Reign or the Seattle Sounders.

Maya admits she was a little nervous singing that first one in June. With the song’s wide range, it’s a difficult song to sing alone. Add 5,000 people and the difficulty factor goes through the roof.

“I honestly do get nervous,” Maya said. “But when I start singing my nerves go down and I have fun with it. It’s not as nerve wracking when I start singing.”

But Maya isn’t just a singer. She’s also got game. She’s a starting midfielder on the Blackhills FC U12 club team.  She started playing soccer when she was three and played on the South Sound YMCA soccer team when she was five.

“She works pretty hard at it,” said Scott Kee, president of the Blackhills FC. “She’s one of the best soccer players for her age in the county. And she’s one of the best singers for any age.”

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Maya Forrester poses with Seattle Reign’s Hope Solo.

Maya didn’t show up to the Reign’s playoff game against Kansas City in a 2-1 loss and sing. Her dad said she has a three-hour warmup, stretching, singing and doing improv to loosen her up. Over her seven performances this summer, she didn’t forget a word. Once, last weekend, she paused, as her voice instructor told her to do, to let the crowd roar with their approval.

“I was in awe,” Dave said. “Not just because I’m her dad.”

Dave, a counselor at Olympia High School, was impressed by his daughter’s improvement over the summer in singing the National Anthem.

“The amazing thing was watching her grow as a singer,” Dave said.

For Dave, the summer’s highlight came when his daughter brought the crowd and players to their feet in last weekend’s playoff game. She paused, as her voice teacher, Jessica Blinn instructed, told her to do.

“Maya just nailed it,” Dave said. “She connected with the crowd. It was a special, magical moment.”

Maya had gone from just singing the song, trying to get through it, to raising the emotional roof.

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Maya Forrester plays midfield for the Blackhills FC U12 team.

“She took it to another level by the end of the summer,” Dave said. “She was connecting with the crowd, which is what a more advanced singer would do.”

Maya plays the piano and writes music. She started singing when she was five, but she said she didn’t find her range until she began voice lessons.

“I never started sounding good until I was about 10,” Maya said with a giggle. “I started taking singing lessons about then. I loved it so much that we decided to take it to the next level.”

Dave emailed the Sounders and the Reign last winter, asking them if they’d be interested in having his daughter sing the National Anthem before their games. They were. That opportunity first came when the U-23 Sounders played Portland at Tumwater Stadium. She did so well that led to more invites.

While she loves playing soccer, she admits she’d rather sing than score a goal.

“I love them both so much,” Maya said. “Soccer is one of my fun sports. I love it very, very much. But singing I adore. So, singing the National Anthem is going to have to be the winner.”

James Charrette, the director of coaches for the Blackhills FC, is impressed with how Maya can balance school, soccer and music – and all at such a high level.

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Maya was joined at the Seattle Reign playoff game by 34 of her Blackhills FC teammates.

“It’s impressive,” Charrette said. “I’m trying to figure out when she sleeps.”

Maya wasn’t the only “fortunate fan” from Black Hills FC attending the Reign’s playoff game against Kansas City. There were 34 others. There were 22 Blackhills players who escorted the Reign onto the field prior to the game. And there were 12 who were ball kids. Kee, the president of the Blackhills FC for the past three years, said his club got an invite for the playoffs because they had done it earlier this season. And because it was a playoff game this time around, everyone who went – parents and kids – had to buy a ticket.

But Kee wasn’t complaining. His kids experienced a memorable moment.

“These players are going to be the ones who play in the World Cup in Canada next summer,” Kee said. “It was a special moment.”

Kee was impressed with Maya’s singing.

“Her singing ability is kind of off the charts,” Kee said. “She has such a great voice. They’re a great family and Maya is a well-rounded kid – very polite, very with it.”

And, the Reign players – from Hope Solo to Sydney Leroux – will tell you, very spot on with singing the National Anthem.


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