A little can be a lot 

I love what I do. I wake up every day, for one, excited like a little kid, and I think everyone that follows me on social media can attest to that; but I also wake up very thankful for what God’s allowed me to do. There will have to be a post at another time explaining the meaning behind F.F.F. or faith, family, futbol. But I wouldn't be here today without God’s blessings and today I was lucky enough to receive a little one myself. 

It’s a commonly tossed around phrase in the sports world, and a lot of people who know me know I like to jokingly say that “I do it for the kids.” While there is plenty of humor in the statement, it’s also genuinely true. Going back to what I said above about explaining the meaning behind F.F.F, family, the second F, simply put, means everything to me. I grew up the oldest of 5 in a family of 7, so it’s easy to see why my family means what they do. But it’s more than just my immediate family per say, it’s a entirely separate meaning in it’s own as well. 

I grew up admiring tons of soccer players. Some I admired from the comfort of my family room couch, some, ashamed or not, I admired thru video games, some I got to watch personally at the professional level, some at the collegiate, high school, or even just a year above me at the club level. None the less, I can remember those players I looked up to. I can remember those who acknowledged me. Don’t get me wrong, there were many players who I briefly met or spoke with just once, and that still meant the world to me, but the players that expressed what appeared to be sincere interest in me, instead of themselves, was everything to me. I can remember feeling how cool it was to be able to know a professional soccer player. And if the player knew me, knew my name, wanted to get to know me, well, lets just say I pretty much felt like the coolest kid on the planet. Fast forward a decade or so, and I’m now in the shoes of the players that I used to dream about being. I try every day to give back. I try to be the player I imagined as a little kid. I try to…” do it for the kids.” 

I had a fan, young dude, who I’ve had the pleasure of coaching at Battery camps during the summer the past season or two, who also comes to pretty much every home game, start to ask me at the beginning of season and pretty much every home game since for my jersey. Maybe its obvious, but almost everyone, especially youngsters ask for our jerseys after games. But I know little man, I've gotten to know little man, and after one game I asked him if he knew the next home game he was coming to and that I would have something for him. I couldn't get him a game worn jersey, but I wanted to get him something just as cool. I came home one day and found in a bin in my closet my first training top from my rookie year. Black drift top with number 54 I believe on the back. Wasn't anything crazy, but it was unique, it was one of a kind. It was something I honestly didn’t know I still had, I didn't wear it anymore, not to mention it was 2 sizes too small. 

I walked out at our next home game with that top. I had one of the reserves place it under the bench and then after the game as we were making our way around to the fans, I surprised little man with his new top. I can’t begin trying to describe the excitement that swept over his face. It was a feeling unlike any other. I felt like a superhero. An unbelievably humbling and memorable experience.  

Then there was today, hence this post. I walk into the locker room for training and found this… 

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Something so small, meaning so much. 

 

Travel Days

So I’m midway through my third season of professional soccer and obviously haven't crossed paths with that many players (I’d be interested to know the number of players I have if anyone has too much spare time on their hands and wants to figure it out) but I’m pretty positive 99.9% of soccer players hate traveling. Hate is a little extreme, but also appropriate. I wrote in a previous post briefly about what goes into preparing for a game and the focus that goes into keeping our legs fresh. You want to be fresh, you want to be 100%. No knocks, no injuries, no sorenesses, nothing. We put a lot of focus into our legs to say the least and traveling is one of the worst things for them. So it’s easy to see why we hate it. There are also a few other things that make traveling easy to hate. For instance, not being able to sleep in our own beds, get dressed in our locker room, play in front of our fans, on our pitch. 

The struggle is finding the time to appreciate the traveling while you’re actually traveling; if that makes sense. From the players perspective and in the sports world, away games are business trips. You're traveling to get the job done; you’re traveling to go beat your opponent - that’s it. There will inevitably be a day when I don't get to travel around playing the sport I love. And I know that when that day comes, I’ll beat myself up for not taking full advantage of the opportunities that were right in front of me. I try to take that approach every time I go on the road, but being honest, there’ve been road games where I've been, for lack of better words, unappreciative. Because like I said, at the end of the day it’s a business trip. 

I said earlier that the main reason why we hate traveling is because of the toll traveling takes on our legs. Another reason is having to wake up at the crack of dawn. And traveling to Toronto meant being at the airport Thursday morning before 5 a.m. And for me, travel days can be essentially be broken down into 4 parts. 

Part 1, the morning and flight 1. The morning is pretty boring to start unfortunately. There's just little excitement in waking up, driving to the airport, checking in, walking thru security, and then boarding the flight. To put things into perspective, the highlight of the morning was getting onto the plane and going back to sleep...

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Part 2, breakfast and flight 2. Things usually start to pick up during the second part of the morning, but for this Toronto trip, things had to be tweaked as a few things were out of our control. A delay in our first flight meant that once we landed in Philadelphia, we would have to immediately head to our next gate to board. Meaning breakfast would have to be postponed. A bummer for sure, but not the end of the world. And just like the first flight, the second flight was also nap time… for me at least. 

Part 3, lunch and training. Once we arrived in Toronto and went thru customs/security, the rookies would do what they do best, assist with carrying the gear.. or just carry the gear themselves. We’d load up into rental cars and head to Panera for lunch before heading to the hotel to check into our rooms. Once everyone was checked in, we would head to Toronto’s training facility for a light training session. After the session we’d head back to the hotel to relax before heading to dinner. 

And lastly, part 4, dinner/chill time. This part of the day is pretty simple. There’s really only one thing to do and that’s eating a good meal. Pregame dinner is on your own. You can eat wherever you like, whenever you like, with whoever you like. Some players meet up with their family/friends if we are in their hometown, some players order in, but most players group up and eat out together. As a foodie, I get pumped up for any meal. Especially when we are in a different city or in this case, a different country. I won’y say where or what I had, but here’s a picture just to give you an idea of what I was messing with. I don't think I necessarily need to elaborate on what chill time is but to avoid any confusion, chill time is….chill. For me, after dinner my first and only priority is getting horizontal, staying off my legs and hydrating. Then finally, lights out. 

If you made it this far, I appreciate it. I also want y’all to know if there is anything in particular you want me to write about, let me know! Comment on this, connect with me above, tweet at me, do whatever you got to do and I’ll try to make it happen. Til’ next time.

pregame superstitions

I can remember one interview in college where I was asked about my pregame routine, or if I had a ritual or checklist of sorts or any superstitions. My memory may fail me, but it was one interview in four years; one. And then I came to Charleston and people became very interested in what exactly goes on in the day of the life of a Charleston Battery professional soccer player in the days leading up to a game. Obviously every player has his own way of doing things leading up to a game, and from my experience some are absurd, some are simple, and others simply go by the seat of their pants, so I can only speak for myself. And my routine is quite sophisticated to say the least.. 

Truthfully, preparing for a game starts the second the final whistle blows in whatever game I just finished. But to narrow it down to the good stuff, my "routine" starts the moment I wake up Thursday morning, with a game Saturday night. On the average week at home, we will train Thursday morning. Things start early for me, I'm a morning person, always have been. So whether I wake up when my alarm goes off or when the sun decides to break through my window, I'll get up, get dressed, eat a light breakfast, which is typically a piece of fruit and a water. Once at the stadium, I go through my daily checklist. Connect phone to speakers, proceed to blare "motivational" music, 10 minutes in 95+ degree hot tub, flexall (aka icey hot) lower back massage, stretch, 30 minute moderate workout, which on Thursday's focuses on core strength, stability, and explosiveness. The training session will be lighter than the previous days as we turn our focus to our tactics for the weekend with crossing and finishing. After training, I'll head home to eat a deli sandwich of sorts with two sides, one veggie and one fruit, and then a protein shake. Thursday's dinner is always pasta with fish or chicken and either bread or a roll. Moving on to Friday... Friday's morning is completely identical, except that my workout is light instead of moderate. I alter my focus to just stretching. The most important thing is making sure my legs are rested and ready for Saturday. Friday's training is also different. And it's quite the Charleston tradition - old v. young. And it's as simple as it sounds, the older half scrimmages the younger half. I'll have to post again at a later day strictly on old v. young, because it most definitely deserves it. Furthermore, after training is when preparing turns up a notch. After I shower, I'll have the club's massage therapist massage by lower back, big man problems, and then any other muscle that may be sore at the time. Next, lunch. And for a foodie like myself, I can't complain with another Charleston tradition. Orlando's. And as superstitious as I may be, I don't get the same pizza every time. I have fun with it and mix it up. But I do always get a small caesar salad with grilled chicken on the side. Friday night's dinner has always been a carbo load to say the least, but I tweaked things before the season started and since then, whenever we have had a home game, I've gone to Olive Garden... It's hard to beat endless soup and salad on top of handfuls of pasta selections. And I take full advantage of it. The typical Friday night meal usually consist of 2-3 different soups, 2 salads, 3 different pastas, 2-4 breadsticks, and sweet teas and waters to wash it down. And.... at that point I'll head home, decompress, stretch, roll out, and hit the hay. And considering it's Friday, I'll save my game day routine for another post. I appreciate y'all tagging along for the ramble. 

Welcome

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If you're reading this, I appreciate you taking the time to check out what we've got going on here. In addition to Facebook, instagram, twitter, snapchat, and all the other social media platforms out there, my people and I thought it would be neat to offer a different perspective for those out there who care about the game, and what goes into the everyday grind. We aim to keep this thread consistently updated, letting y'all know what the life is like on a day to day basis. Again, we appreciate you making it this far. Til' next time.