Gatorade’s latest advertising ploy to prove itself as the
one and only thirst quencher for athletes is a mystery of sorts.
The company has created a commercial with various people thanking
an unidentified woman. Coaches, teammates, fans and even Michael
Jordan all give praise.

Eston Bond
Senior tri-captain Laura Tanchon has her mom to thank for a successful soccer career.

Most sports fans have probably seen it by now. And who
doesn’t blush and giggle a little bit when Nomar Garciaparra
stares deep into the camera and says, “Thank you,
beautiful.”

After all that suspense, it is revealed that the woman is U.S.
women’s soccer legend Mia Hamm. And while Hamm certainly
deserves a great deal of credit for bringing women’s soccer
to the forefront, perhaps she’s not alone. Take, for
instance, the story of Michigan women’s soccer player Laura
Tanchon. Tanchon, a senior tri-captain, has a mystery woman of her
own to thank.

Tanchon’s tale starts back in 1999 when she was a
sophomore at Dana Hills High School in Laguna Niguel, Calif. In the
middle of the soccer season, she fractured her ankle and was in a
cast for several months. After a long wait, doctors informed her
that she needed ankle surgery, leading to several more months of
rehab.

After so many soccer-less months, Tanchon felt “frustrated
and demoralized.”

“Soccer had been such a huge part of my life before the
injury that I was worried if I didn’t make a spectacular
comeback, I’d be considered a failure in many peoples’
eyes,” she said.

Such a tough injury and recovery forced Tanchon to make a
terribly difficult decision — she quit her club soccer team
and the sport she loved and decided to focus on her high school
studies instead.

Enter her own personal mystery woman — although her role
in Tanchon’s career doesn’t start here. This was the
same woman who, for years, had been signing Tanchon up for teams,
taking her to practice and cheering her heart out at every chance
she got.

Thank you, soccer mom.

Tanchon had countless trips to the doctors and rehab after her
injury, but she never went alone. And she always needed help
changing her bandages and ice, sometimes even in the middle of the
night.

Thank you, uncertified nurse.

Tanchon was stubbornly saying she was not going to play soccer
anymore, even after her ankle completely healed. For a girl whose
life had been filled with the sport since she was eight years old,
this was a huge and possibly irrational decision. Thankfully, her
mystery woman intervened.

“She constantly told me that soccer was more than a sport,
that it could possibly be an education,” said Tanchon.

Tanchon wasn’t an easy sell.

“I was stubborn at first, then after a few weeks of rehab
I realized that she was right and that there was no way I was going
to do all that work recovering not to play soccer again.”

After joining a local club team, Tanchon continued to recover as
her mystery woman drove to and from the high school to get missed
schoolwork.

Thank you, level-headed guidance counselor.

Since Tanchon got back on the field and eventually made her way
to Ann Arbor, that same woman makes as many trips as possible from
California to watch games, continuing to motivate the Wolverine
midfielder.

Thank you, cross-country traveler.

Without her love, support and hard work, Michigan women’s
soccer would likely be without Tanchon, who coach Debbie Rademacher
calls “a leader and an extremely hard worker who leads by
example.”

Thank you, Laura’s mother.

Thank you, Linda Tanchon.

Linda’s work has not gone unnoticed. Laura understands and
appreciates everything her mother has done and tries to thank her
the best way she knows how — on the field.

“I play in an effort to pay her back and hopefully make
her proud,” Tanchon said.

And while Gatorade may have left lesser known, yet equally
important people like Linda Tanchon out of its commercial, it did
get one thing right by asking, “Is it in you?”
“It” was and is in Laura Tanchon — she just
needed her mother to bring it out.

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