The line at the Publix isn’t at the checkout counter. Instead, it starts near the deli section, where Alex Morgan sits at a table as people queue up not to check out, but to check her out—to get an autograph, a photo and perhaps a few words with the woman who was introduced to them as the best female soccer player on the planet. The line zigzags between crisscrossing ropes in front of Morgan before snaking through the store, out the front door and along the sidewalk. At the end of the line, two weeks shy of her ninth birthday, is Payton Pitman.
Like Morgan, Payton is in her soccer gear, fresh from a Saturday afternoon game in nearby Geneva. Morgan has arrived at the Altamonte Springs Publix from a soccer camp held at Orlando’s XL Soccer World. An hour evaporates, and so does the long line, until the only person remaining is Payton Pitman. As she finally stands before her idol, the girl’s body convulses, her face contorts, streams of tears flow... READ THE FULL ARTICLE >