While there will be no stealing of the spotlight from DC SCORES' poets over the next two evenings, a trio of goal-scoring, championship-winning Washingtonians will add plenty of intrigue to the 12th annual Poetry Slam!
Each year, we bring in a few honorary judges in addition to the real judges for each night of the Slam!, and this year we're honored to have three soccer players from area teams ready to cheer on the young poets and interact with them.
Ever heard of Abby Wambach?
If you're a soccer fan, that's a no-brainer. In the 2004 Summer Olympics gold-medal game, Wambach's header in extra time gave the United States a thrilling 2-1 victory over Brazil.
Wambach, who plays for the Women's Professional Soccer league's Washington Freedom, also played for the U.S. World Cup teams in 2003 and 2007, scoring six goals in six games in '07 despite needing 11 stitches to her head after a collision. Last season, her eight goals for the Freedom were more than any other American player in the WPS.
And, most importantly, Wambach will be in attendance at Thursday night's Eastside Slam! (6 p.m., Kelly Miller Middle School), supporting students from 10 schools as they compete as hard as she does on the field.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Wednesday night, Christian Gomez of D.C. United will be an honorary judge at the Westside Slam (6 p.m., Columbia Heights Education Campus).
Gomez, originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina, moved his way up the ranks of the super-competitive Argentinian soccer hierarchy of teams for more than 10 years before signing with United toward the end of the 2004 season. In his first season, he energized United's attack and helped lead them to the MLS Cup.
It was a great start, but he backed it up with an even stronger 2005 season in which he scored 11 goals and added nine assists. And in 2006, Gomez won the MLS Honda MVP award.
Gomez has been an MLS All-Star three times, and after a brief stint in Colorado he is back with United, helping to lead them offensively.
While Wambach's presence would be enough to create plenty of attention among soccer fans, she'll be joined by yet another professional player at the honorary judges' table Thursday.
Clyde Simms, also of United, will sit adjacent Wambach. Simms joined United in 2005, and in 2008 he played all 30 games -- only missing, incredibly, 3 minutes the entire season. He remains an integral piece of United's rotation, and at 27 years old has plenty of good years as a pro ahead.
So you can see why the excitement surrounding this year's Poetry Slam! is at a pretty high level.
Additionally, the Westside Slam! will have a full complement of MCs, with Black Boo of the local band Mambo Sauce joining radio personalities Justine Love and Angie Corley of WPGC-95.5 FM to lead the action.
On the Eastside Thursday, Black Boo will be back to reside over the event and will be joined by Aladdin, another entertaining DJ from WPGC.
With professional soccer stars cheering and popular musical talents setting the stage, the DC SCORES poets should have no problems putting on an entertaining show over the next two nights.
Come check them out and become part of a star-studded audience.