For my past three professional seasons I’ve written “F.F.F” on the tape that covers my wristband on my right arm; the wristband story is for another time.
“F.F.F” which obviously stands for Faith, Family, Futbol, has been everything to me since my very first days of playing competitive soccer. When I was in middle school, playing competitive soccer for the first time, on a team that had been playing together already, saying I was nervous would be an understatement. I loved playing, it meant everything to me. I was the “new kid” on the team; I knew I could play, but I had to prove myself. I admired all of my teammates; we were only in middle school but this team had already proven themselves. They had won all the trophies, titles, tournaments, and the most intimidating part, they travel all across the US doing it. I was just this little kid who liked playing soccer and just wanted to keep getting better.
Two of my first coaches playing for CASL during my middle school years did an excellent job coaching as well as teaching. It probably didn't mean as much then, but sitting here today, I’d like to thank both Coach Lambe and Coach Talbot for everything they did back then. Whether you thought we were listening or not, we were, and y'all's wisdom is something I’ve carried with me my entire career.
It was just an average day of training. I’m sure we were goofing around or not taking whatever drill coach was running seriously, but it was another day in paradise none the less. I can’t remember the exact day, but I can remember being called into a huddle on the first day of training and Coach wanting to lay out the “guidelines” for how we were going to operate. Three things he said. Only three things mattered. Your faith, your family, and soccer (futbol).
Your Faith was first. Nothing came before your faith. It didn't matter whether you were Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, or anything in between; your faith was first.
Your family was second. Your family has always been there and will always be there for you. Your faith was first and your family was second.
Soccer was third. We were there to play soccer. We were there to get better and win. We set the standard high and accepted nothing less. We were just middle school kids, but this was business for us.
So recap… Your faith was first. For me, I wouldn't be here without God’s graces and as my Dad shares with me and the rest of my 4 siblings, “Seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God” - Micah 6:8. Your family was second. My family is everything to me. They’ve picked me up when I’ve fallen and celebrated with me when I’ve succeeded. I wouldn’t be here without them and damn sure wouldn't have gotten here without them. And lastly, soccer was third. Soccer was the “most important.” There was no excuse to miss soccer. There was no excuse for not giving your all. You were never allowed to miss soccer unless it was for your faith or your family. Clear and simple.
So…the years moved along, we grew older, coaches changed, but that one speech that one day in the huddle stuck with me. My faith was first, my family was second, and soccer was third.
The clock kept ticking and I was finally at Wofford. I was living a dream. I was playing college soccer! I had no idea there was another chapter afterwards. I’ve always been a simple or old fashion player when it comes to accessories or gear. No tape, no long sleeves, no gloves, none of that. However, I started wearing a wristband on my right arm for one of my teammates, meaning I would have to tape over it in order to wear it while playing. That story will come later, but I’m superstitious; I had success with the wristband on so I kept wearing it. I arrived in Charleston my rookie year still wearing the same wristband. I had achieved a lifelong dream of playing professional soccer and I would not have done it without my faith, my family, and my love for the game.
So prior to my first game professionally with the Charleston Battery, I taped my wristband and wrote “F.F.F.” on top of the tape to remind me what was important, what mattered most, but most importantly, to make the most of the opportunity God had blessed me with.
The rest is history…