B(r)agging rights were on the table as Republic FC midfielder Matt LaGrassa and defender Panzani Ferrety Sousa stepped off the pitch and behind the checkout stand for the ultimate grocery bagging speed test at Nugget Market in West Sacramento. Their competition: Alexa Sobsey, the winner of the 2022 National Grocer’s Association Best Bagger Championship, and Coby Estrada, the best bagger in California in 2023.
With a variety of grocery items placed in front of them, the contestants raced to fill their bags before being scored in four categories: speed, weight distribution, bagging technique, and style/attitude/appearance.
Matchup #1: Sousa v. Sobsey
On her home turf (Nugget’s West Sacramento location), Sobsey was up first to take on Republic FC’s Sousa. As the competition got underway, the two were surprisingly close, but as the match went on, Sobsey’s experience came into play as she remained composed and strategic to pull away from Sousa. Sousa tried his best to keep up, but mistakes began to add up, denying him the upset.
“I thought I had a chance in the beginning,” said Sousa in post-match. “The first couple of bags went well, then I broke a bottle and that set me back a long time. You know, sometimes you just have to learn from your losses.”
“I’m just really thankful to get back in here again because it’s been a while since I’ve done a competition like this,” said Sobsey after her big win. “Sousa actually impressed me. He was better than I thought he would be. He’s the athlete, but I’ll take this as my sport, and I’m happy that I was able to kick his butt.”
Matchup #2: LaGrassa v. Estrada
In the next battle, LaGrassa stepped up to face Estrada. While Sousa went for a speedy approach in the first competition, LaGrassa opted for a much more methodic (and slow) game plan. He eventually picked up his speed, but then Estrada was long gone and never looked back.
“I’m a competitor and I’m always going to believe in myself, but my inexperience definitely showed – but I didn’t break anything, so that’s a plus,” said LaGrassa. “We’re not big fans of losing at Republic FC. We expect the best day in and day out, and I did not bring that today. And I think Coach Briggs will probably let me know about it later.”
Estrada was fired up after his resounding win: “It feels good. This was good practice for the real competition. I’ve always wanted to say that I’m better than a professional athlete at something, so I’m glad I can say that today.”
After taking 2 losses on the day, Sousa and LaGrassa will certainly be sticking to soccer as a career. “I didn’t show my best, so I don’t think Nugget would hire me,” said LaGrassa. “I would hope they hire me,” echoed Sousa. “It would be very tough…I might drop a couple more bottles.”