Switch The Pitch

Our Team

Staff

Sylvana Budesheim

Social Media Manager

Official Reporter: New York Red Bulls

Sylvana Budesheim put down her grade book to pick up a press pass. Retiring from the game in 6th grade, it wasn’t until much later that she learned she could make a life in soccer without all the running. During her years as an English teacher, she learned the basics of journalism and decided to apply them when an opportunity came about. She joined MLSFemale in 2017 and quickly made a place for herself in the Red Bull press corps. Her musically-themed articles caught the attention of colleagues and fans. Sylvana has also written about Red Bulls II and the US Men’s National Team. Enjoying the pace and variety of life in the press box, Sylvana can also be found writing for the Red Bull News Network, where she has taken on coverage of Sky Blue FC in the NWSL. If there’s still any time left over, she can be found working on her first fiction novel. You can follow Sylvana on Twitter: @WhiteZinWench.

Jess Houwen

HR Manager

Official Reporter: Colorado Rapids

Jess Houwen is one of the owners of Switch the Pitch as well as the Official Reporter for the Colorado Rapids. She began covering the Rapids in 2017 after randomly encountering a tweet from Sylvana that led her to the website. Shortly thereafter, she began writing for SBNation covering Real Madrid with the team at Managing Madrid. When she’s not obsessing over soccer, she can be found on the stage as an actor in local theatrical productions or reading at home. You can follow Jess on Twitter at @jesshuh15 or on Instagram at @jess.switchthepitch.

Sarah Kallassy

Editor-in-Chief

Official Reporter: D.C. United

Sarah Kallassy is the current Editor-In-Chief of Switch the Pitch. Sarah began covering soccer with MLSFemale as the official reporter for D.C. United in 2018 and shortly thereafter joined the editing team. She took over as Editor-in-Chief in 2019 and has bought in as an owner of Switch the Pitch. Sarah’s professional writing career has seen her work with the Aspen Institute, the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, and several professional soccer players.  Previously, Sarah studied International Economics and Middle East Studies at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and is a current MBA candidate at American University’s Kogod School of Business. She is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and spent two year-long deployments in Afghanistan. There, Sarah worked as a linguist and with Afghan government officials on the peace and reconciliation process. Make sure to follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahkallassy and check out her website: www.sarahkallassy.com.

Darbi Lockridge

Project Manager

Official Reporter: Houston Dynamo, Inter Miami FC

Darbi Lockridge has loved soccer for almost two decades. She has been writing for non-profits and pet projects in her volunteer-sphere since high school. Her two loves combined in 2019 when the opportunity arose to write about her home team, the Houston Dynamo, for MLSFemale. She is thrilled to transition with the project to help launch and organize Switch The Pitch. Her passion for the beautiful game is shared by her husband and teenage step-son, who is both a youth player and referee. Darbi’s unique perspective comes from years of being a fan and the parent of both a player and referee. She’s constantly busy with the beautiful game from shuttling to training, volunteering with Dynamo Charities, and cheering the team from the Supporters’ Section. Follow her on Twitter @sonchyenne where she will consistently fail to maintain a professional journalistic distance from her teams. 

Bridget McDowell

Associate Editor

Official Reporter: Minnesota United FC

Bridget McDowell began covering MNUFC for MLSFemale in the 2017/18 offseason and joined the editing team later that year. After leaving the customer service world for a stable office job, Bridget became more involved with the site through 2019, taking on the roles of Associate Editor and part-owner of Switch the Pitch. Before discovering the sisterhood in soccer media, Bridget utilized her B.A. in English as a supporters culture contributor to Minnesota soccer blog, The Daves I Know, and is still an occasional guest on the TDIK podcast. She can also be heard chatting all things soccer as co-host of the weekly MN Futbol Show on KRSM Radio (98.9FM in Minneapolis). Follow her on Twitter @BCMcDowell.

Jill Peck

Director of Photography

Photographer: Seattle Sounders FC

Jill Peck is the Director of Photography, and one of the owners of Switch the Pitch. She has a BFA in Photography from Pacific Lutheran University. When stationed in Kitzingen, Germany with the U.S. Army she discovered her passion for photography and soccer. In 2011 she started shooting the Seattle Sounders for various media outlets. At the beginning of the 2019 soccer season she joined MLSFemale. Follow Jill on Twitter: @jillmpeck and on Instagram: @jillmpeck.

Aya Philemon

Video Coordinator

Aya Philemon is the Video Coordinator and part owner of Switch The Pitch. She joined the team in 2017, the inaugural season of both MLSFemale and Atlanta United FC. Her passion for all things visual is equally matched by her passion for soccer and inclusivity in the stands. She has been a soccer fan her whole life, so she grabbed a season ticket the moment her new home team was announced, and has been live tweeting ever since.

When she’s not in the stadium, Aya can be found in the ballet studio, or working on her cosplay for next year’s DragonCon. She holds an Industrial Design BFA from Rhode Island School of Design, now works in marketing data analytics, and will start an MBA program in the fall. Follow Aya on Twitter: @ayas0faya, or Instagram: @ayasofaya.

Ashley Savage

Official Reporter: Seattle Sounders FC

Ashley Savage is the official reporter of Switch the Pitch for Seattle Sounders FC. Ashley resides in a suburb of Seattle and works as the Director of Extended Day at a private school in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood. After graduating from Central Washington University in 2010, Ashley spent over a year living in Seoul, South Korea and traveling across South East Asia. She married a Sounders inaugural season ticket holder in 2014 and has a 3-year-old son who idolizes Jordan Morris. While Switch the Pitch is her first adventure into sports writing, she has been a lifelong sports fan, traveling to multiple USWNT World Cups abroad, several Premier League matches and making the sojourn to her home state of California once a year to watch USC football. Ashley also is an occasional guest contributor to the MLSFI Podcast talking all things Fantasy MLS. Follow her on Twitter at @savage_hart.

Keira Smith

Keira Smith is a member of the ownership group for Switch the Pitch and has previously served as the official reporter for New York City Football Club.  She began writing for MLSFemale in 2017 and then began working to increase engagement on the site’s Instagram account.  A lifelong fan of soccer, Keira bought in as an owner of Switch the Pitch to promote both the sport and to increase representation of all who love the game.  In her prior professional career, Keira worked in human resource management in the realms of financial services, law, and not-for-profit research.  She has a master’s degree in organizational psychology from New York University.  She is also an avid tennis player and coaches high school tennis.  Follow Keira on Twitter: @keiramunsmith.


Official Reporters & Contributors

Mandy Collins

Contributor: NYCFC

Mandy used to only watch soccer every four years when the World Cup came around.  Today, you can find her traveling to multiple cities (and this year, countries) in support of NYCFC.  Mandy had just moved to NYC when MLS announced the team in 2014 and she watched the team come together.   Her fate as a supporter was sealed when they signed David Villa as their first player and captain.  He had always been her favorite athlete.  Mandy remains a founding member to this day despite currently living in Michigan.  Now, Mandy looks forward to establishing herself as a contributor for Switch the Pitch. You can find her on Twitter at @MissMandyBunz

Abigail Gerken

Contributor: NWSL, Seattle Sounders FC, USWNT

Abigail Gerken is a contributor for the Seattle Sounders and US National Teams. She also helps out with social media coverage. Abigail joined MLSFemale in 2018 writing a variety of articles and more recently has been involved with social media coverage. Abigail is set to graduate high school in June with her general AA as well as her high school diploma. She hopes to double major in business and sports management at a four-year University. Outside of Switch the Pitch, Abigail loves to play club soccer and is currently taking youth soccer coaching classes to become a coach. Follow Abigail on Twitter: @abigailgerken22.

Kirsten Hoogstraten

Contributor: Sporting KC, Opinion and Humor

Kirsten is currently a contributing writer for Switch the Pitch. Kirsten was one of the first reporters when MLSFemale officially launched in February 2017 covering Sporting KC. Moves to Orlando, FL and Boston, MA made it difficult to continue covering a team halfway across the county, so, in the summer of 2019, Kirsten stepped down to a contributing role. She currently writes opinion articles and tries to provide some humor for the site. She strongly believes that soccer, much like life, can’t be serious all the time. 

In her professional life, Kirsten recently graduated with her Masters in Instrumental Conducting from the University of Central Florida and also holds a degree in Music Education from the University of Kansas. She teaches high school music in the Boston area, plays tuba and euphonium semi-professionally, and conducts small ensembles in the area. You can follow Kirsten on Twitter @Kirsten_Hoogs.

Hilary

Contributor: Columbus Crew SC

Hilary has been playing soccer since she was 7 years old.  She’s been a season ticket holder for the Columbus Crew since 2009 and has been covering the Columbus Crew in some capacity for MLSFemale since 2017.  She loves spending her free time with her dog Fin. Follow Hilary on Twitter here: @hils4crew.

Michelle Huitink

Official Reporter: LA Galaxy, USWNT

In 2018, a long-time and hardcore LA Galaxy fan, Michelle Huitink, joined MLS Female and started reporting on her beloved team.  Her articles are published on MLS Female’s website and are shared through Twitter. Twitter has allowed her to interact with most of the LA Galaxy fanbase. With this exposure, she gained media credentials, interviewed players, and has since covered the US Women’s National Team for The Stoppage Time. After guesting on several podcasts, she finally launched her own called Simply Soccer as well as a Youtube Channel with projects in the works. Follow Michelle on Twitter: @mchuitink.

Eve Powell

Official Reporter: Impact Montréal FC

Eve Julia is the Official Reporter for Impact de Montréal FC. A lifelong soccer fan, Eve has followed the Impact since 2015, and joined Switch the Pitch at the start of the 2018 MLS season, prior to moving to Montréal from the Maritime region of Canada. Bilingual in English and French, Eve’s love of writing stems from her education in the literary field. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. in French Literature, as well as a B.Ed. Follow Eve on Twitter: @evejulia9.

Sheba Rawson

Official Reporter: Portland Timbers

Sheba Rawson began covering the Timbers for MLSFemale in 2017. While her love for soccer came later in life, Sheba began her field sports career as an ultimate frisbee player in California, winning women’s open national championships in 1992 with the Maine-iacs and college women’s national championships with UC Berkeley in 1993, where she completed coursework and prequalifying exams (ABD) for a PhD in Education, Language and Literacy. An education administrator who is fluent in Spanish and English, Sheba holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Cal State Los Angeles and a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Occidental College. In addition to her work with MLSFemale, Sheba has contributed blog posts for the 107 Independent Supporters Trust at timbersarmy.org. Follow her on Twitter at @shebainpdx.

Araceli Villanueva

Official Reporter: LAFC, Sporting KC

Araceli Villanueva is the current official reporter for Sporting Kansas City and the Los Angeles Football Club of Switch the Pitch.Araceli has over five years of experience in managing various social media platforms and developing innovative digital content for well-respected sports organizations and various media outlets. Araceli  has created content for: University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City Public Television, Sporting Kansas City, Swope Park Rangers, Kansas City Comets, Major League Soccer, and SB Nation. In her free time, Araceli enjoys traveling, visiting new establishments in Kansas City and of course, watching soccer. Araceli has a Bachelor of Communications degree with an emphasis in Journalism and Mass Media at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Make sure to follow Araceli on Twitter: @Aracelv1, and check out her website: www.avaraceli.wixsite.com.


Photographers

Leslie Chairez

Photographer: Houston Dynamo, Houston Dash

Leslie Chairez is a photographer for Switch the Pitch. Chairez began working for MLSFemale in March 2019 as an official photographer. She started her journey as a fan just taking photos from her seat, at different sporting events. In 2018, she got the opportunity to cover the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifiers for a Mexican media outlet called ElevenLegends. Leslie also covered the Houston Dynamo and Dash’s 2019 season. Leslie is pursuing a bachelors degree in Sports Administration from the University of Houston-Main Campus. You can follow her on Twitter: @lesliecphotos, and check out some of her photos on Instagram: @lesliecphotos.

Annie Collins

Photographer: Chicago Fire FC

Annie Collins is a suburban Chicago based photographer who became a photographer at the MLS level on behalf of the Chicago Fire’s supporter club, Section 8, in 2016. She photographs the game day experience including the club tailgates, club supporters, fans, and players. She also photographed the Chicago Fire’s 20th Anniversary Celebration at Chicago’s Cultural Center. Photography became a passion when her two boys began playing soccer and lacrosse – which continued through college and led to Pro Arena Soccer (MASL), where she was a team photographer.  Annie was a French Qualified International Flight Attendant for United Airlines for many years and did translating aboard aircraft mainly bound for Paris, France, each week. Traveling remains something she enjoys, as well as doing genealogy.  She earned her B.A. in French and Education from Iowa State University.  Follow her on Instagram at @dreamydiedre and Twitter at  @dreamydiedre.

Tisha Gale

Photographer: NYCFC

Tisha holds the honor of being MLSFemale’s first official photographer. She joined the team at the start of the 2018 MLS season, as the official photographer covering New York City FC (NYCFC). Tisha has photographed numerous NYCFC home games at Yankee Stadium, and on the road at Mapfre Stadium, Stade Saputo, Red Bull Arena, Audi Field, and Mercedes Benz Stadium. Her photography career started off as purely a hobby, but it has evolved beyond anything she could have ever imagined. Tisha has photographed several soccer related events, but her favorites so far include the 2018 MLS All-Star game in Atlanta, GA, and the 2019 Women’s International Championship Cup in Cary, NC. In 2019, Tisha had the privilege of photographing a USWNT game, and a match-up between the Orlando Pride and Sky Blue FC towards the end of the NWSL regular season. She has spent her entire life playing and/or watching soccer. Growing up in rural Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, soccer was Tisha’s escape. Most days you’d find her in the streets bare-footed kicking a soccer ball-or something that resembled a ball-with her friends. Some of the best moments of her life are soccer related, including a brief stint playing for the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines U19 Women’s National Team, during which time Tisha played in a FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifier Match. She has since then replaced her cleats with a camera, but the passion Tisha has for the beautiful game is stronger than ever as she continues to discover the beauty of soccer from a different perspective. You can connect with Tisha on instagram @tishagale15.

Daisy Jimenez

Photographer: LAFC, USWNT

Daisy Jimenez is a photographer for Switch the Pitch. She began covering LAFC as an official photographer for MLSFemale in 2019. Daisy has loved photography since she was a child, and it has led her to take her passion seriously. She earned her Associates in Communications at Riverside College along with taking photography classes and shooting games from the stands as a fan. So far, Daisy has covered the USWNT and LAFC as official media. She is currently working towards a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Long Beach State and hopes to expand her opportunities in the sports world. You can check out her photos on Instagram: @daisyjsphotos and follow her journey on twitter: @daisytweeted.

Ind’ya Vassell

Photographer: Inter Miami CF

Ind’ya lives in Florida and was raised by a single mom of 4 children. Ind’ya began pursuing photography while at Miramar High School, where she photographed was the photographer for the football team. She has since started photographing soccer and joined Switch the Pitch as the official photographer for Inter Miami CF. Ind’ya is a graduate of Florida International University and has her own photography company, Vassell Visuals. You can follow Ind’ya on Instagram at @vassellvisuals .