I usually have an easy time finding a clever way to start these entries. Well, actually, I typically just apologize for the delay in getting something posted. However, it’s only been a handful of days since my last entry and for as creative as I think I may be, I can’t seem to find an opening that I like - so we’ll just jump right into it.
Week 2 of preseason has concluded. This week was our first full week of training. As many of y’all already know, we started preseason here in Cincinnati on the 15th. However, we didn’t have our first training session until the 17th.
Just like going to the first day of school, the first few days aren’t too rigorous. For us, we had opening meetings, tours of the facilities, introductions to the staff, etc.. I think I can speak for the squad when I say that the difference between school and playing professional soccer is that those first two days were the longest two days of the offseason. If you ask any professional athlete, the offseason is dreadfully boring - all we want to do is get back to it. For most of us, we have 4-6 weeks of an offseason. To many, that’s no time at all. For me, it felt like eons. So similar to running a race, the final stretch is always the toughest part. We were in Cincinnati, the squad was finally all together, we were settled in, but still not officially training. It was in my opinion, one of the worst forms of torture out there. It was almost like waking up on Christmas morning as a little kid and wanting to rush to see if Santa came but instead, being told by your Mom to wait at the top of the stairs so that she could take pictures, make sure breakfast was ready, and that everything was just right. But eventually the gate would be lifted and we’d be off!
Fast forwarding a few days...
Monday morning, week 2 - it was go time. We were entering our first full week of preseason. We knew the ins and outs, we had started to get our bearings, and it was time to start making progress!
Week 2 was great - everything we wanted it to be! We would have days with futbol only sessions, days with futbol and gym sessions, days with only a boxing session, and days for recovery/wellness. A full week to say the least.
If you follow FC Cincinnati on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or just online, you more likely than not already know what we’ve been doing. If not, I’ll share a little bit about the process.
Monday, outdoor futbol only session. Tuesday, outdoor futbol session with an indoor gym session following. Wednesday, boxing session with the guys at Cincinnati Fitness Boxing. Thursday, outdoor futbol session. Friday, outdoor futbol session with a gym session following. Lastly, Saturday, recovery/wellness. I’m not going to go into much more detail on the sessions, that’s VIP information and something that frankly, stays in house. I do however, want to share a few things that have happened off the pitch.
For those who know me, you know I love kids. I grew up in a big family, 4 younger siblings to be exact. I essentially grew up as a full time babysitter and by no means is that a bad thing. I find myself connecting with kids, no matter the age, way too easily. Heck, where do you think #LittleKidBigBody comes from...
Monday afternoon was my first opportunity to connect with some of the youngsters in the Cincinnati community and I absolutely loved it!
After training on Monday, two teammates and I, Nazmir Albadawi and Tyler Gibson, had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with the kids at Pleasant Ridge Montessori during an after school Futsal program. This was my first time interacting with the youth in my new home and it was exactly that - I was at home. We introduced ourselves, hopped in on the drills and scrimmages, and as always, answered some “quality” questions afterwards before signing autographs. It was short, it was sweet, but it was perfect.
I can remember as if it was yesterday, admiring older soccer players. Some may have been middle school players, some may have been college players, some were professionals who I had never met, some were players I simply saw on tv; but they were my heroes. They had it all. They were everything I wanted to be. They were living the life!
I’ve been blessed to be able to do what I love everyday and I wholeheartedly believe I am where I am today thanks to the role models and heroes I had as a kid and whether I realized it when I was in high school, or when I was at Wofford, or when I was in Charleston, I was someone’s role model somewhere. Everything I did, everything I said, every move I made, someone was watching. It didn’t matter if it was one kid, one parent, or one friend, someone was looking up to me - someone wanted to be me. Realizing this was one of the greatest gifts I’ve been given - the opportunity to inspire. The chance to show them that their dreams can be achieved. The chance to teach kids the right and wrong way to go about it, but more importantly, the chance for me to learn. The chance for me to learn how to live the life The Lord wants me to live. The chance to perfect my imperfections.
I am by no means perfect, never have been and surely never will be. If there is anything I’ve learned over the years, it’s to never give up and have faith. Have faith that the noes will eventually become yeses. Have faith that the bad times will eventually become good times. Have faith that the impossible, is in fact, always possible.
Although I’ve seemed to steer away from the futbol, I haven’t. Futbol for me is more than just a game. It’s everything - it’s my life. It guides my faith, it’s my family, it’s my chance to give back to all of those that have given to me - and that’s something I plan on doing each and every day!
I’m looking forward to taking more steps forward as we enter week 3 and sharing my walk with y’all again.