Few people can say they've been to the North Pole, but Chicago Fire season ticket holder Giovanni Savaglio got to live that dream. MLSsoccer.com caught up with Giovanni to learn about his once-in-a-lifetime journey and how the Fire helped him get there.
Q. Tell us how you won a trip to the North Pole.
I won a contest called Blog your way to the North Pole, run by Quark Expeditions. Each entrant wrote a blog explaining why he or she should be chosen. Voting was open to the public, after which the five entries that received the most votes made the final round. Finally, a winner was selected by a three-member panel. Click here to see Giovanni’s blog entry.
Q. Why do you think you won?
I knew I had a compelling story to tell, because I not only had been to Antarctica (near the South Pole) before, but I met my wife on that expedition. It felt as though it was our destiny to somehow make it to the North Pole, so in a way our story and life could go full circle around the world and be complete.
If it had not been for the Chicago Fire, I doubt I would have won. Prior to the Fire's support I was in 16th place and losing ground. I had pretty much exhausted all of my options until all of a sudden, while putting on a Fire shirt, it hit me. I'm a member of the Chicago Fire Family!
I've been a season ticket holder since the inaugural year, so I wrote a letter to the Chicago Fire organization and explained my situation. I offered to fly the Chicago Fire flag atop the world. Soon thereafter, I got a call from the club and they started plugging me on their Facebook page. They even wrote an article about me on the website, Vote Fire to North Pole. From there on, I started climbing up on the vote board to eventually finish the race in third place.
Q. What is more intimidating, the North Pole or Section 8?
Have you ever been to a Chicago Fire match? Then you know that Section 8 is loud, arrives in numbers, stands for the entire match, chants and waves flags. They’re in your face, win or lose, and they never let up.
The North Pole expedition was during the summer so there was 24 hours of daylight. The weather was calmer and warmer, so it’s a no-brainier. Section 8 rocks and is more intimidating. Plus, Section 8 has more chants and songs and can avail themselves to their flagpoles to ward off unsuspecting polar bears.
Q. Which is colder, the North Pole or late-season Fire games?
You sure know how to hurt a guy. Two years ago was difficult. We fell short of being in the MLS Cup by one game. Fire Fans are winners and have come to expect that we should win it all every year. To answer your question, I'd say late season Fire games can be colder, as one has an entire off-season to feel that chill of losing.
Q. How did you become a Chicago Fire fan?
I’ve been a Chicago Fire fan from the very start. I purchased season tickets the first day they became available to the public in 1998. I was the 16th person to be a season ticket holder and have been with the club through all their stadium moves. Having attended all the World Cup soccer matches at Soldier Field back in 1994, I couldn't wait until Chicago got a team.
Q. What advice would you give to a new soccer/MLS/Fire fan?
Join in! Join in! Be a part of it!
I'm a living example of how by just being a fan of a sport and a club, one’s life can change abruptly and greatly. Aside from winning championships and matches, there is an art to the game of soccer that goes beyond the score on the pitch.
I've also found that MLS is the most fan-friendly sport in America by far. Aside from its affordability, you become someone to the club, not just another spin on the turnstile. Look at how the Fire has embraced me.
I've fulfilled my dream to the North Pole. I've given Santa my Christmas list. Unfortunately, given that Santa makes deliveries after this MLS season this year, the Fire may just have to settle for our next Championship ring in 2012. We still have the Lamar Hunt Trophy in our sights, though, for this year.