St. Louis Women's Soccer Team is called "Athletica"

Nearly two months after it acquired players, the St. Louis franchise of the Women's Professional Soccer League finally has a name. Henceforth, our team shall be known as St. Louis Athletica.

"People ask, 'Is that even a word?'" said team president Jeff Cooper at a press conference at the Missouri Athletic Club this afternoon. "Well, it is now."

(For the record, the word "Athletica" does not appear in Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.)

With the help of Coach Jorge Barcellos and star player and St. Louis native Lori Chalupny, Cooper unveiled the team's new logo: a crest featuring a female version of the famous statue of St. Louis in Forest Park with the word "Athletica" beneath it.

"It's a strong and powerful image that's based in St. Louis, with a feminine edge," Cooper said. "We're proud of our brand."

"For sure St. Louis will be a strong team," Barcellos assured the audience in Portuguese, via a translator. "We want to give more happiness to the people of St. Louis."

Also present for the unveiling were Frank Borghi and Harry Keough, two of the five St. Louisans who played on the 1950 World Cup team which famously upset England, and National Soccer Hall of Famer Al Trost.

But it was Chalupny who got the biggest cheer of the afternoon, mostly courtesy of the 30 or so girls from St. Louis youth leagues, already proudly garbed in Athletica T-shirts and waving green-and-white StL flags.

"It's very exciting and an honor to wear this crest and these colors," Chalupny said. "I can't wait till February."

The press conference also brought news of St. Louis' long-anticipated men's team. St. Louis submitted its application for an expansion franchise to Major League Soccer last month and expects to hear the results before the end of the first quarter of 2009. The city's chances have been improved by its plans for a new stadium in Collinsville (also on display) and also the withdrawal from the competition for a new team by Montreal.

Major League Baseball MVP Albert Pujols also recently signed on as an investor. The women's season begins in April; season tickets are already on sale, ranging from $99 to $1,200. It might take St. Louis soccer fans the whole five months to get used to cheering for a team called Athletica.

- Aimee Levitt

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