Prior to this Saturday’s match against FC Cincinnati at Soldier Field, the Chicago Fire and Section 8 Chicago will induct a new member to the Wall of Honor - a joint initiative to remember and celebrate dedicated supporters who have passed away.
Lauren Bovis, a dedicated Fire supporter who passed away in 2015, will become the fifth person selected by Section 8 Chicago’s leadership to have their name added to the memorial, joining Dan Parry, Brandon Kitchens, Euan McLean, and Al Hack. Bovis’ family and friends will be joined by members of Section 8 Chicago, the Fire supporter community, and Fire front office staff for a pregame ceremony in front of the Wall of Honor, which is currently located in the South Courtyard at Soldier Field.
Bovis' love for the team and her fellow supporters ran deep. According to her family, she would talk about the Fire every chance she got, with anyone who would listen.
"She enjoyed the team’s ups and down with player trades, wins and losses, and intraleague banter and comments," Patty Bovis, Lauren's mother, said. "There were many great times at Fire games and events with her special soccer friends, Lindsay and Tatiana. She loved the special events and wore her team apparel all of the time and often gave the items as gifts. The Fire were 'her team.'"
A teacher for 11 years, Bovis often incorporated soccer-related themes into her classroom. Her love of math shined through in particular in her ability to discuss team statistics "with vigor."
"The team would have loved hearing her talk about them to her students," Patty Bovis added. "New team fans were being created in the classroom."
The ceremony celebrating Bovis’ life will be the third in the Wall of Honor’s history after the plaque was originally unveiled on June 28, 2008. Parry and Kitchens were the initial inductees that day, followed three years later by McLean and Hack on June 4, 2011. As stated on the plaque itself, the Wall of Honor is “dedicated to those who keep the Fire burning in their hearts,” and celebrates the Tradition, Honor, and Passion shown by this group of supporters who have since passed.
Nicole Hack, a longtime Fire supporter, former member of the Section 8 Chicago board, and daughter of Al, shared her perspective on what the Wall of Honor has meant to her family ahead of Bovis' addition.
“It's such an honor that he was included in the Wall of Honor,” she said. “It means an immense amount to my sister, my mom, and me. We grew up supporting soccer because of him, so it united our family. It's nice to be able to say hello to him, and remember him at games with the Wall of Honor plaque being there.”
In the 11 years since the last Wall of Honor induction, supporters and those close to each inductee have carried forward the memory of those that have been enshrined.
“In one way, we honor them just in the spirit of what they taught us and what they shared with us,” Hack said. “I know individual (supporter) groups like the Whiskey Brothers remember Brandon in their own unique and special ways. Then, for my sister and I, we had fundraisers with ‘A Red Heart Can Never Be Broken’ scarves, where money was donated to the American Heart Association.”
“I think it’s important to continue to celebrate these people, maybe more regularly than we already do,” she added. “Section 8 Chicago commemorates them on social media every year on the anniversary of their passing, which I think is really important - to not forget these important supporters that came before us.”
Fans in attendance on Saturday - and every Fire matchday - are invited to stop by the Wall of Honor to pay their respects to Dan, Brandon, Euan, Al, and Lauren. Hack hopes their individual legacies can help inspire current and future Fire fans to bring a similar enthusiasm to the sport.
“With how passionate the fans here are, and how passionate these specific fans were, I hope it helps people feel like they could contribute a small amount of that passion to the community and the game as well.”
For more on the Wall of Honor and its prior inductees, click here.