The driving force - Coloradoan

Midfielder, GM Deacon is heart of Colorado's team BY KELLY LYELL Cayla Deacon has been playing soccer for the Colorado Force since 2001. She's been the team's general manager since 2003 and, since he was hired in 2005, she's also been the wife of the W-League soccer team's head coach. She's played in about 100 games with the Force, yet the one that stands out most, she said Thursday, is one of the handful she has missed. Deacon was hospitalized in Fort Collins with a large blood clot that formed from a small bruise on her arm she received in the previous match and wasn't on the field June 21, when the Force beat the Los Angeles Legends 2-0 at Loveland Sports Park. "All the girls wore wristbands with my number (9) on them, and I think that game probably sticks out in my mind the most because they came and saw me before the game, and you just feel so much a part of the team and you're reminded how neat it is to be part of the team," Deacon said. Deacon, in many ways, is the team, franchise owner Amy Snider said, explaining why the Force is honoring the 30-yard-old midfielder during its regular-season finale at 7 tonight against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Loveland Sports Park. A photo of Deacon in action is printed on each ticket, and she'll receive special recognition during a halftime ceremony, Snider said. "She's just really kind of the heartbeat of the franchise right now," Snider said of Deacon, who is on blood-thinning medication and cannot play soccer for another five months. "I know as a player, and having to abruptly end your season, I think it's really important that she knows how important she is to this franchise, and we really want to give her a little extra recognition for all that she does. ... "We wouldn't be where we are without her." The Force (3-2-6, 15 points) is tied for second place in the W-League's Western Division with Seattle (3-1-6, 15 points) entering its season finale against fourth-place Vancouver (3-2-5, 14 points). Vancouver has two games remaining, and Seattle has one. "The only thing we can control is what we do," said Craig Deacon, Cayla's husband and the Force's coach. "If we put our best foot forward and take care of business in front of our fans, anything can happen." Snider said she was hesitant at first to hire her GM's husband as the team's coach but said the Deacons, who have a 10-year-old son, Dominic, and 2-year-old daughter, Ashton, have done a tremendous job balancing their multiple roles. "Cayla's got a job to do in terms of being a GM, and I've got a job to do in terms of taking care of the team," Craig Deacon said. "Cayla and I both have a healthy respect in each other and the jobs we each do. We don't even talk about soccer when we're together at home." When Cayla Deacon is on the field, she's simply a veteran player, one others can turn to for advice and support. She's not the GM nor the coach's wife in that role, second-year player Lisa Kosena said. "She wears so many hats and wears them all so well, nobody would ever be able to tell," Kosena said. "She just steps into each role so smoothly that you'd never know she has those other roles." Her on-the-field role with the team, however, might be finished. Cayla Deacon said she'd like to play soccer again, but she's not sure she'll be able to keep playing at such a high level. She's also hoping to have another child and said she would like to try coaching again at some point after spending four years coaching the girls team at Fossil Ridge High School. On the field or not, though, she won't be forgotten. Hence, the No. 9 wristbands and "Cayla Deacon Night" tribute. "Cayla's kind of the rock to the team," Kosena said. "She does everything for the team, and we wanted to do something for her to let her know we still wanted her out on the field. That's our way of letting her know she's still on the field, wearing those wristbands." Additional Facts > Next up: Whitecaps at Force, 7 tonight, Loveland Sports Park. > Tickets: $7 adults, $5 youths (ages 18 and under). > TV/radio: none.