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Shannon Tate shares her experience as a female on the capo stand

Tate: “I’ll be honest, I was so scared that no one would take me seriously up there as a female.”

Shannon Tate has been to countless New England Revolution games.

A fan since 2010, she was there when the team secured their ticket to the MLS Cup Final in 2014 and when they won the Supporters’ Shield in 2021. Neither of these moments compare to the nervousness she felt on Mar. 5, 2022 when the Revs hosted FC Dallas.

It’s not because Bruce Arena might finally become the winningest coach in MLS history or that we would be learning the gender of Matt Turner’s child.

No, Tate was about to take over the Revs capo stand for the first time, an extra special moment because few women had done it before her.

“I’ll be honest, I was so scared that no one would take me seriously up there as a female,” Tate told The Bent Musket. “When I joined The Rebellion [a Revs supporters’ group] and became Vice President, I made a promise to myself to be strong and maybe even a ray of hope for other female fans to want to get involved.”

The idea of leading The Fort in chants as a capo first crossed Tate’s mind a year ago. She noticed the role was mostly filled by males who do an outstanding job but wondered what it would be like to hear more female voices.

The Midnight Riders have produced a few female capos, including Lindsey Boyer, who was on the stand during last year’s playoff game against NYCFC. Rebellion President Cory Cloutier said there have been two other female capos from his supporters’ group. In short, Tate was entering rarified air.

The capo rookie didn’t tell a lot of people about her plan, limiting it to a few members of The Rebellion. She wanted to keep it a surprise.

Tate made her move when the Revs entered the locker room with a 1-0 lead. As she ascended to the capo stand, she heard at least one person say, “Who is she?” This didn’t deter her because she was ready to sing her heart out for the team she loves.

“Looking up at the crowd in The Fort, I definitely felt the pressure of all eyes on me,” Tate said. “I was thinking, ‘Wow, what if I forget the words?’”

Tate said she struggles with anxiety, so she wasn’t sure how it was going to go. She has sung these songs so many times before, but never from this position.

As is tradition, she led The Fort in singing “From the Halls” to start the second half. It was a moment of fate since it’s her favorite chant.

“It’s the first chant I learned when I started going to matches,” Tate explained. “Just hearing everyone cheer it together–it getting the people going–it got my blood pumping.”

Tate shared the capo stand with Caleb Pongratz, a fellow member of The Rebellion. Pongratz is an advocate of having women on the capo stand because it’s largely been men for the past three seasons. He believes it’s important to “focus in on finding more female voices for The Fort.”

Tate’s 45 minutes went smoothly. She admits that there were a few times when she forgot the words to the chants, but she was able to keep up the energy by clapping to the beat.

The Revs secured three points when the final whistle blew, but Tate’s night wasn’t over. Goalkeeper Matt Turner and his fiancé Ashlee Heron positioned themselves in front of The Fort to do the gender reveal for their child. Tate and other Revs supporters were in the background as the couple announced that they were having a boy.

“My favorite moment was seeing everyone go crazy when Matt and Ashlee did their gender reveal after the match,” Tate said. “Everyone went crazy! Matt has been such a key member of this team so we are so happy for him!”

Tate left the capo stand as fans started to exit Gillette Stadium. She received many messages of affirmation, which warmed her heart. Pongratz noted that Tate “killed it” and “100% helped in hyping up the crowd.”

Tate is eager to step up and do it again, saying, “This won’t be the last you see of me, that’s for sure!” It’s a way for her to be part of the team that means so much to her. She joked that she “never thought I would be scheduling my life to go to sports games.”

More than finding a new passion, Tate hopes her appearance on the capo stand inspires others to join her. Pongratz stated that there are at least three other women signed up to do the job later this season. There’s even a possibility that one game will have an entirely female capo. Tate said that this “says a lot about the progression of change we are looking towards for the future.”

Tate noted that she’s always had “a lot of respect for those who do capo.” While it can be an “intimidating” experience, she also finds it to be incredibly rewarding.

“Although incredibly nervous, I wanted to try and make a change for capo,” Tate said. “I wanted to show anyone who has the lungs and love for the community that they could step up.”

The Rebellion invites anyone interested in becoming a capo to visit their official website.