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Building Angels At America First Field: RSL in the Community

Josies Angels

There’s home away from home, and then there’s what a 20,000+ seater stadium in Sandy, Utah means to the Rader family. 

It’s the building where Jen and Matt Rader first connected, fell in love, and even provided the space where the young couple got married. Right at the famed pitch’s center circle, with the main tunnel housing the procession as shadows of the Wasatch Mountain range loomed over them. 

There’s home, and then there’s your foundation. A place that helps build you, builds community and most importantly, builds you back up after you’ve fallen apart. 

America First Field is also the building where the Rader family shared their biggest loss. 

On Thanksgiving night, 2021, the Raders lost their baby girl, Josie, during labor. It was a time of intense grief for the family, one that they shared with their built-in support system, the community at RSL. 

Matt Rader, Real Salt Lake’s Chief Ticketing Officer, has been with the Club for 11-plus years, starting in 2008 and returning after a few years at the Utah Youth Soccer Association. Jen Rader, neé Petrosky, earned her first job after college at RSL following a move to RSL. 

As the young couple - along with the oldest daughter, Leila, now five - moved through their grief over the past two years, this March they used that devastation to help others manage theirs. Through the RSL Family Initiative, Matt and Jen invited RSL and Utah Royals FC employees to participate in Josie’s Angels. 

Josie’s Angels is an initiative created by the Raders in which they artistically create unique, handmade ornaments and gift them to those who have also suffered loss. 

“When we delivered our baby, and she passed away during labor, we were given this bag and it had little trinkets, little things that other people had made like jewelry or a little blankets, and it was super meaningful,” said Jen. 

“I knew I wanted to add something, but I wanted something that could be for a mom, for a dad, for anyone, regardless of if you wear jewelry and so basically, for a lack of a better word the ‘angels’ are like an ornament that I make out of beads. It's small enough where it can go anywhere around your house. I put mine in my car on my rear-view mirror and so it's just a symbol that she's always with us.”

Weeks ago, it was this Josie’s Angels event at America First Field that was the first held outside of the Raders’ home, and both agreed it only made sense to have it at the place that brought them together, this gathering place for the Utah soccer community - their community, their family.

“Interacting with the staff and Matt's coworkers was incredible because I sat down at a table with a couple of the different departments and hearing even just the connections that the staff have with stories like this was amazing,” said Jen.  

“There's been people at the organization who have also lost children who we didn't know had gone through that and it's just really a amazing moment to go and share that experience with these coworkers, and now friends.”

A relationship between a family, Club and community, that’s built to last. 

If you’d like to donate to Josie’s Angels initiative, you can do so here.