O: Strength Week


Imagine myself in a tree…

Meaning, for the time you’ll need to imagine a 6’3, skin and bones red headed teenager lodged up in a small tree on the campus of a university.

Cell phones weren’t popular, and e-mail was slowly growing. I was armed with a red pen, a summer breeze, a Bible, and a tablet of paper. I started writing, looking at versus and tying them in ‘my way’ into a thought process that would stay as a theme for the week. Something about being able to find strength on a Sunday in order to prepare myself for the week ahead.

I named it “Strength Week”.

I had started this concept at a summer camp that I frequented in junior high and high school named “Super Summer”; put on by the Missouri Baptist Convention [try not to hold that against me]. One of the many times I was at this camp I came up with this idea of keeping  a journal of one entry for the week. Almost a weekly devotion. However, I wanted to share it with others.

My friends, I assumed, would think I was weird, but on the e-mail system I should be safe. Because of this I created a weekly list [before e-mail programs actually stored lists] of people that I would share that e-mail with. This was my first taste of social media [Facebook hadn’t been invented yet and MSN IM was still popular] as I learned that people would read the entry, then forward it to their contact list, etc…for a fifteen year old that was pretty neat. However, like all things of teenage years, I soon grew too busy [especially in the school year] and failed to keep up with my “Strength Week” articles.

I wish I had the e-mail address of that 15 year old boy so I could get a copy of one of those e-mails…

Personally, I would rank this past week right up there with the week my wife left me, the week I ran out of money, the week MC was diagnosed with cancer, and the week my first girlfriend broke up with me. It’s been an awful week. It’s been awful primarily because of tonight’s conviction on the reflection of my behavior and attitude in the past week. If you ever want to know where Satan can latch on and drag down a Christian, I encourage you to develop your own business, and then try to stick to a Biblical standard of code and conduct.

Enjoy the fireworks.

I was sitting at MoVal this morning, dead to the world, when one of the church elders came up to chat. Now, our elders range in age, so this is not an old man with a cane that’s poking at me. This is a guy with a relatively young family, business owner, who just enjoys life. He started talking to me, making note that I looked exhausted, and worn out.

I honestly could have broken into tears right there. I’m fearful to tell people that I’m worn out of because of the fear of them assuming that I really don’t work that hard. It felt like forever to get my parents to understand that I didn’t just have a hobby, I had built a business. However, when you’re not trading stocks, making sandwiches, and teaching classrooms of children it can be hard to quantify what a ‘business’ really is; especially when work involves doing what you love. So, for a while I’ve tried to keep it under wraps and just not talk about it. Not bring up the pains in my back and neck, not mention the headaches, or how I can easily sleep all day. I’m scared to bring up the sorrow and fear I have at night trying to find answers in the world of business. I’m terrified to even speak about the doubt that I deal with on how God is going to provide. I’m so scared that people will place me as a dramatic individual who is looking for attention, and doesn’t know what “real work” really is.

However, after speaking to this elder, and listening to my girlfriend repeatedly telling me to go home and reset today; I’m typing this message out of guilt, shame, and a convicted heart of struggling as a Christian. When the fear comes in that people believe that I’m not working hard, or that I”m not doing enough, when I’m scared to speak up because of what the world may thing, it points out an evident, painful sin: pride.

So, in the event to squash the pride and shed some light into my world; I’m typing this message tonight to simply make this claim:

I am absolutely exhausted. It hurts to stand up and move from my office to my bed. I don’t sleep at night, and I work all day. I try to get duties at the gym in, and eat respectfully. Realistically; I am failing at all of it. I. Have. No. Strength.

This is a evidently longer post, and I apologize for that, but as this is my website I have the ability and right to type the night away. I think the best way for me to illustrate what exactly the convictions of this lone mans soul is, is to be able to send out apologies to those who have been wronged by my behavior in recent days [strongly reflecting on the past week]:

Soccer Community:
I didn’t think there was anything in the world that could cause me to become as bitter as I was when my ex-wife left my life. I really didn’t. Because of that, it isn’t overly surprised that I was proved wrong this week. To bring everything into the light, I’ll go this route: In February of last year I decided to build a women’s soccer program in Kansas City, a premier team that worked with college and post-college players in hopes of giving them something to look forward to after college. A life of a player past the years of the NCAA. Massive blueprint, schematics, hopes, and dreams. I had an overwhelming belief [and still do] that this is my mission field, and this is the route that God wants me to take. However, that doesn’t mean that it is going to be easy, and it most definitely isn’t. In July of last year I was notified that another women’s program was coming into Kansas City, by November that program was announced. It is supported by a successful business owner in Kansas City, and backed by the US Soccer Federation. It crushed me over Thanksgiving. I believe in honesty and transparency, and if I told you that I hadn’t considered worse case scenarios at that point; I’d be lying.

I struggled with hate, I struggled with questions, I struggled with a potential [and volatile] fan base. Kansas City is growing from primarily soccer team in 2012 to seven in 2013; us being one of them. Financially, league strength, and support; we’re as one of the media relations of Kansas City stated, “the low-man on the totem pole”. I haven’t felt so damaged, flawed, and laughed at since having my pants pulled down at recess in elementary school. What can a 25 year old, who lived in the back of his truck, do in the soccer community dominated by the ‘big guns’ of the media image? It’s a question that plagued me, there are connections, and resources that were lost. And the whole time, through media, social media, and interaction I had to keep face, be polite, and try not to show intimidation. After all, as so many people of the Kansas City soccer community put it, “We’re completely different compared to the other program.” Each person that told me that, put yourself in my shoes, that’s all I’d ask.

I would rant, rave, and continue to my tantrum but the reality is that, that isn’t what this is about. This is about the conviction of my heart, knowing that as a Christian, regardless of business and competition, and know that it is in the wrong spot. Competition can bring out the worst in us, and it has been seen sometimes through social media, and sometimes with media interaction, and I can promise you that there are people within the last week that have spoken to me, and walked away thinking, “Really? That’s a Christian? Ouch…”

I am not perfect, but I can be much better then what I’ve allowed myself to be in the past week. For those in the soccer community that have found the free time to read through this post; while it directly affects, indirectly, or if you honestly don’t give a flip; just know as an owner of a women’s program that was to “grow the game”, even before the season has started for us: I have let you down, and while I’m still growing and learning the in’s and out’s of the business world, I only ask that even if you give up on me; don’t give up on the dream of what this program was designed to do: being a shining beacon of what happens when entertainment, community, and innovation come together. It’s much more then just 11 players on a field.

Girlfriend
This one hurts a lot.

Amazingly, to show off God’s grace, even though I went through a tragic, painful divorce in 2011; I was given the opportunity and the blessing to fall in love with a wonderful woman. Anyone who has been around us knows that our personalities can create a very polarized atmosphere that isn’t always the most…welcoming. However, she has never, and I sincerely mean never, given up on me.

I’ve told her my fears, she knows my past, she knows I was left in the dust [not saying that I didn’t deserve it] with nothing. She accepts that I’m not rich, and even embraces that psychotic soccer store that is making itself known. I’ve been sick twice in the past four months, each time she has taken time that she could use to do everything else she wants to do, and took care of me. My coffee gets brewed in the mornings, and even though she works at Starbucks, if the day is going in a specific direction; she’ll pick me up a large drip from Dunkin Donuts. She thinks the world of me. Always makes an effort to hold my hand at MoVal, and gets ticked if I don’t kiss her goodbye when we go our different ways for the day. My girlfriend is an amazing cook, even though she won’t admit it, and works her tail off for a better life. At 19 she’s already looking at promotions in the corporate of Starbucks. She balances my nightmare of a life, with her online college education, paying the majority of the bills for where she lives, and even helps her mother with her bills. Her life revolves around babies, coffee, and learning more about her newly acquired Christian faith. She tries sushi, even though she hates it, just to try to make me happy. She’s a woman that ever man should dream of meeting.

And I fail to tell her that.

I’m so selfish, focused, and conflicted with the direction of my life that I’ve failed to remind her of how beautiful she is. I haven’t taken a split second to kiss her on the cheek. I’m yet to bring her flowers [though she’s told me she doesn’t need them…this brings about confusion], and we haven’t had a ‘date night’ for several weeks. As much as it haunts me, I wouldn’t be surprised if at night, while frustrated with me [for good reason] she thinks, “Yes, I see why his ex-wife left him.” I wouldn’t blame her, I wouldn’t be upset either.

To my girlfriend, the woman who frequently speaks of what life will be like when she’s my wife, I owe you my heart.

God
This easily hurts the most.

I have been to rock bottom in life; I’ve witnessed it. I have noted what it is like to lose absolutely everything. It was only then did God begin to say, “Now I can show you what I can do”.

As the site has grown over the past year and a half, the concept remains the same: God does amazing things with very regular people. The soccer program that He’s allowed me to have should be enough to represent that. However, He doesn’t stop there. He brought me home, He gave me a new life, an incredible job at Subway with a staff that supports the Kansas City Shock. He gave me the welcoming body of Missouri Valley, and a pastor that could look see the sins of my past, and still welcome me in. I’ve traveled more in 2012 then I have ever; including Los Angeles, Guatemala, Baltimore, Dallas [twice!], and Washington, D.C. Not to mention Las Vegas in two weeks from now, Boston, and a summer full of excitement. I’ve been given friends, both old who didn’t give up on me, and new who are still wondering what I am. He’s given me excellent health, a new body, and ambition for a new life.

I have no excuse not to give praise where praise is due.

I’m shamed because I struggled last week to tell a random business owner that God has blessed me in amazing ways. I’ve failed to stay reading the Bible on a daily basis, and my mind hasn’t remained focused on Him. I’ve been hateful, spiteful, and painfully egocentric. I may have said one thing, but I traversed mentally into the realm of, “Look at what have done.” I’ve been dishonest, a politicians, and most painful of all; I’ve manipulated people…again. The one thing I said I’d never do again. I’ve looked in the mirror and saw that worldly business owner, I’ve had nightmares of the earthly politician, and I cringe typing this knowing how close I’ve come, once again, to my own destruction.

WHEN WILL I REALIZE THAT THE IT IS NOT MY OWN STRENGTH, AND MY OWN DOING? WHAT MORE DOES GOD HAVE TO DO TO SHOW THAT?

To my Father, the only One capable of doing the unimaginable, the awe-inspiring, and demonstrating never ending love, I’m a fallen human in a sinful world, and by Your grace I’m saved, but I need guidance and grace now, more then ever. I. am. sorry.

Perhaps it’s the complex of pride and lack of patience that has cast me into this spiraling world of doubt and destruction. Even though my reputation is tarnished, and my attitude has been poor, especially in the past week, the goal still remains the same: when I’m gone…as in dead, whatever it is that I end up doing, as cheesy as it sounds, it has to be 100% truth:

My tombstone better be blank, because whatever I’m to be known for better be given as a sacrifice of my first fruits to my Father.

-D-

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O: Second Year


I’ve logged over 200 miles today; I’m tired and I’ve resulted into doing two things that are usually not permitted in my life:

  • I’ve converted my comfy bed and pillows into my ‘office’
  • I’ve made the executive decision to forgo all social media aspects for the night [minus e-mail…if that counts]

Why?

I’m beat. Mentally, emotionally, and physically. I can’t handle the long drives nearly as well as I used to, and mentally I’m just fried today. Is that wrong?

Two hundred miles is good for only one element of life; thinking.

Call it reflection, or call it just mindless wandering, but anyone who has kept up with my journey since July of 2011 can admit that it’s been a ride.

You don’t get to make up stories like these; you don’t get to go from absolutely nothing to everything. That doesn’t happen in today’s world, right?

Dead. Wrong.

Has it been easy? Not a chance; while traveling through north central Missouri today I thought back to the horrible journey of breaking and entering to find food. Not the best moment of life, or the legal paperwork that was filed, and then filed again. However; the pains and frustrations are so small compared to the fruits of the excitement that I now live on a daily basis. Realistically; perhaps as I find myself partway through year two; it’s the reflection on those who have been instrumental towards the elements of my life. From running until I wanted to die [and then some], to random journey’s down south while in panic-mode, to writing and writing and writing, to the insane ideas that conjure up in my mind [throw a few sandwiches in there also], and there’s a list of people, organizations, businesses, and so much more to note, to thank, and to appreciate.

However, that would give notion towards the end of a book; which anyone who knows me, knows that isn’t even close to the truth [we’ve got a while on book two, as it has become much larger then anticipated].

Perhaps this is the medicine that I needed tonight. Truthfully, I’ve had knots in my stomach all day. The stress from the Kansas City Shock and what I put on myself has been unreal. While I dare not say tonight is a night of doing nothing [the amount of e-mails I have to work on is unreal], but taking the initiative to reflect on positive thought in order to maintain balance of my mind [so I don’t lose it], and continue to remind myself to remain humble, passionate, and grateful.

Mind spinning yet? Neither is mine; it’s 9:30 PM CST; I dropped my luggage in the apartment, put on some cartoons, and just started typing. I tend of Amy Jo Martin in exact moments like this; Ms. Martin explained a study [that her staff forced her to do] called Ready, Set, Pause. The problem was that she was moving too often, too quickly, and wasn’t able to catch her breath. Complete overload. Her crew required her to take eight minutes out of her day [literally penned into her schedule] and just relax; throw on some music, and take a deep breath.

While I’m chalking this up to Ready, Set, Pause; I do see the evening in similar light. I firmly believe that it is a temptation to dwell on the past. How many of us during our youth years tried the one-up trick of, “Oh you think your life was bad? Well mine was…” Maybe no one else, but I’m as guilty as sin with the notion. How Jo, throughout college, didn’t kill me is beyond my mental capability. However, as I’ve grown older there has come the concept of reflection vs dwelling:

Reflection runs a mindset of focusing on the thought provoking ideas, and insight from the events of an individuals life. Wisdom, joy, and emotions are frequently stirred for the individual. A case in myself would be, humorously, listening to “As Long As You Love Me” by Justin Bieber. Hearing the song spurns the idea of a night time drive in a black Ford Fusion; all while driving down Santa Monica Boulevard. My emotion? Joy. Happiness. Meeting new friends, traveling, and enjoying a bit of freedom. That’s reflection upon my life; taking a moment to contemplate the events that I’ve partaken in.

Dwelling tends to be a dangerous slope that once started; can result in negative attitudes and a selfish desire to make every idea and concept in the world about ones self. Using myself again, a good example would be December of 2007; during Christmas Eve. I was on Facebook chat with Jo; I had known her for a month at this point, and I was pointing out every doom-and-gloom element of my life. I’m poor, my parents divorced, my girlfriend dumped me, I’m always made fun up, blah…blah…blah…Who did that benefit? Definitely not Jo; looking back I feel very bad for the moment. I can tell that it was focused on the subconscious benefit of myself. By talking poorly of myself, I was able to amplify my ‘importance’ in the conversation, pulling pity, and in turn recognizing that the conversation was solely about me. Dwelling on the past can quickly be brought in contact with selfishness.

At this point I’ve been looking at cat pictures, and fighting with Pandora on good music selection, but I think these musing prove the point. Perhaps if nowhere else, my own life; growing means recognizing what is safe, and what is ill advised.

My only hope is that as the days, weeks, months, and years progress that the memories found in my reflections may be ones that can be viewed, smiled, and remembered in their truth form.

Now…where are those e-mails…

-D- 

O: The Great Slowdown


Perhaps it was church today…

…or the fog in my head…

…or the insane amount of Ny-Quil consumed over the past four days.

Everything revolved around the same realization:

Sometimes you just need to slow down.

After my trip to Los Angeles I quickly turned around and jetted out to north central Missouri for my monthly business trip out there. Afterwards, come Wednesday evening I was sniffling, sneezing, and by Thursday morning I was on the phone with my supervisor explaining that there was no safe way that I’d be heading to work that day [note: a fever does not mix well with a job in the food industry, just saying]. At that point I contacted my girlfriend, letting her know I wasn’t leaving my bed, and went back to sleep.

I came to realize very quickly that one of the biggest struggles with being sick is rescheduling everything that is going on for the. Soccer practice, vehicle estimates, everything had to be regrouped for a future date. Not pleasant. Through Thursday I slept, and slept, and slept. I felt my fever break [an unfortunate but needed experience], and some of the people at MoVal were kind enough to send some warm dinner my way [absolutely fantastic by the way!]

Friday I woke up shaking an dizzy, head fully congested with who-knows-what, but this much I did know.

I had to get moving.

Hot shower, box of tissues, and plenty of water and I made my way to downtown Kansas City. I spent the morning working the stores I have in the financial district, and by 4:00 PM CST I was on my way to the University of Kansas. I had made mention months ago that occasionally I write for Our Game Magazine when there is a college match in the area worth noting. This week happened to have nationally ranked Oklahoma State taking on Kansas. By 5:00 PM CST I was sat in the media tent in the gorgeous weather match tracking the event online, and by 8:45 PM CST I had journeyed ninety minutes back north to my apartment.

When I stepped in [as you can imagine from the sickness and running around I was dead to world] my girlfriend was in the kitchen. She had made me apricot chicken and a fantastic dessert. I was warm, fed, and absolutely blessed. I was out within twenty minutes and did not wake up again until Saturday morning around 10:00 AM CST.

By 11:00 AM CST I had found myself back out into the soccer complex in the city, cheering on Peeps Soccer [U8] and still being in an absolute fog. By noon, after snacks and the kids left I was in my stores running around, making up lost time.

Saturday night brought about a nice pleasure of being with my girlfriend and MC and Jim at their house; relaxing outside around the fire. The world stopped, and I finally breathed [ish]. After we said our goodbyes [can you believe I hadn’t been back there in three weeks!?!] we made our way back to the city, and I crashed as long as I could until church Sunday morning.

I was even given the option of not going to Sunday School, but at 9:00 AM CST I felt like I’d cheat God if I missed it [since being in LA last weekend]. I went, again mind foggy and completely spaced out]. I made it through Sunday School, yawning like a fool, and stumbled through church.

Finally this is where life started to slow down.

First, I met Kyle. Kyle is a unique new individual into MoVal and quickly, my own story. Kyle is about my age, just relocated back up to the area after his wife left him with absolutely nothing [sound familiar]? He’s been broke, broken, and just trying to find his way in life again. Perfect setup. We’re hanging out and eating lunch here in a week from now. Just to find our common ground on such a chaotic life.

During the sermon, our pastor was speaking on the Gospel Project, and today was emphasizing the importance of taking time to see what God has created around us [not to be mistaken with God being in nature around us…]. His biggest point, to which my girlfriend and I both looked at each other, was his exclamation of importance for people to slow down. We’re so busy to get to the ‘next goal’ that we refuse to enjoy what is happening before us. With our eye contact, we knew that something had to change. We both needed to slow down.

It became even more apparent to me while I was getting ready to type up this message. I’m sitting at a table in Starbucks; I’ve got my laptop, two cell phones, and my tablet all before me. Schedules synchronized, I never miss a beat. Between Subway and the Shock, literally I can’t afford to, and here’s the terrifying part: I don’t even have children. Those of you who have children, you know that right now you’re moving 24/7 between school, practice, recitals, work, and occasionally you get to eat food.

We are in a dangerous rat race, and this very much includes myself as being part of the guilty party.

While I was out in Los Angeles, one of the more startling things that I noted while out there was how tired everyone looked. I didn’t see the plastic surgery, cakes of makeup, and the fresh ink that I had assumed would be visible. I saw tired faces, worn out bodies, it was evident that people along the fast paced coast lines are finally wearing out from the daily chaos.

Why would I want to wind up like that?

Here’s the current challenge I face: When I’m not sick, I love going 100mph non-stop. In many ways it is an absolute rush for me. I’m young, healthy [most of the time], and desire to be productive. I love the passion I have with soccer and the Kansas City Shock, and I’m extremely blessed with my position at Subway. My girlfriend stays with me toe-for-toe, and we’re constantly on the move. While our culture says this is all expected for the age range of the two of us; is it wise in a Biblical aspect? Many times I fear slowing down and not doing something because, reality is I revert back to those dark days a few years ago when I was a sluggard, lethargic, and in many ways worthless. I’m not here to say that stopping for a few seconds is going to place me back into that mindset, it still makes me fearful of what it could lead to. Does that make sense?

I’m trying to figure it out. My store list ends this week, a few days to relax. I’ve got a meeting with our head coach tomorrow afternoon after my session in court down south [again, not about me, just to clarify]. My girlfriend and I are starting a new competition to improve not just our health, but also our budgets. We both have confessed to being a bit loose in the pockets as of late, and we’re trying to adjust before that becomes an issue. So, while we’re both trying to slow down a bit, we have started to find more common ground in the kitchen of the apartment. We’re seemingly cooking something in there frequently [or at least eating], and I think it is going to assist us in working together financially and health wise. I’m big on health, she’s big on finances and I believe we’ve found common ground.

I think it is evident through these past few days that God has easily been showing me that I have to slow down eventually. It’s vital for heath; mentally, physically, and spiritually. While I tend to want to buck the trend, this is a moment where I have to acknowledge that while God has blessed me with the ability to get things done, He also expects me to take time away and just focus on peace; most importantly, focus on Him.

Who knew that relaxing and taking time away from running around could require so much effort?

I’m getting there.

As for now though, it’s 10:30 PM CST and I’m finally feeling good. I have to depart from the apartment at 5:30 AM CST, so I need to get some much needed rest and prepare for another crazy day.

He’s so, so good; I can’t even express how wonderful God is. Nothing in this life do I deserve, and through it; I’m determined to let it be known that it is His.

-D-

Mobile Minutes: Humbling Bieber


Yes, you read it right. He ‘whose name we mustn’t speak’ was in the title.

While in LA I heard more Justin Bieber then I had heard in my life leading up to those minutes in the car. I heard his new song, enjoyed the bass line, rapping, and overall sound.

However, it was sweet to (mushy, romantic, parents are evil kind of sweet).

I decided to take that video and post it on my girlfriend’s Facebook page. She has over 1000 friends on there, and the 25 year old man posted a Bieber song on her wall.

Why? Definitely not because Bieber is Dr. Love, but more so, through technology, I could demonstrate humbleness that “cute” songs work for me if it fits her. Regardless of who sings it. A brave move when putting down street credit and all.

Of course, she was touched that I put it up there. Simple gestures, when hundreds of miles apart, can make a perfect day.

-D-

Mobile Minutes: LA Part IX


Not sure if 39.000 feet counts as LA technically.

It is all starting to hit. I haven’t been feeling well most of the day. Primarily due to my allergies just going nuts out west. Combine that with a incorrectly made blue martini, and currently after two cups of Seattle’s Best coffee (I can’t escape Subway) and a glass of water. I feel pretty lousy.

Unfortunately, though I knew ahead of time that it wouldn’t be easy, I have a quick turn around to work on my stores out east for two days. My fear is simply getting sick from exhaustion because it has happened before. In fact, reflecting on my life, I’d say more times then not, my sickness has been derived from lack of sleep. Such as last December when I don’t even remember getting home from southeast Kansas.

I’ll definitely be breaking out the leather jacket tomorrow. It is cold back home.

In all reality though, minus the not feeling well (I’m craving soup), my life is incredible. While spending the afternoon at LAX I was able to engage through Google Talk with one of the Lifetime Ticket Holders of the Kansas City Shock. He is a few years older then myself, but with the availability I engaged with him, speaking on our brand.

Best choice I made all day (help balance out that awful martini). Again I learned and incredible lesson about the dedication that so many people have for the Shock. They like the idea, but in this case, he was drawn to towards the integrity aspect of the program. What I always took as granted and common sense is something of serious value in the business world. Being honest and passionately excited about the company spurred this ticket holder to be fascinated with his investment. Taking the time to plug in with one devoted individual not only made his day (I hope), but also continued to show me, as a reminder, that God has me on the right path.

Realistically I’m toasted. But honesty, I couldn’t have ever dreamed of being so blessed. It’s incredible, at least to this writer, to see how everything I do now combines into not only fulfilling my utmost passion, but more importantly I can feel God’s pleasure.

Mobile Minutes: LA Part VIII


Quick step back into the joys and excitement of yesterday.
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Incredibly; it was much warmer here in Los Angeles then it was in Kansas City when I left. Many people were speaking of the incredible heatwave that had gripped this area. I thought that they had been full of it when i woke up and stepped out of my hotel. It was cloudy, cool, with a pleasant Pacific breeze.

How can a heatwave come from that?

Easy, the clouds can go away.

After spending my Sunday morning driving The “405”, to I-110, across to The Home Depot Center in Carson, California; I was quick to find the closest Starbucks. There may be a ton of Starbucks in California, but I’ll most definitely give them credit in saying that they know how to make a good mocha. I know that Starbucks has a standard protocol for making each drink that you can find nationwide. However, whatever this crew does differently, it was definitely noted. The mocha was smooth, creamy, I could taste the espresso, but I could also taste the mocha blended smoothly through the drink. It was excellent and a benefit as I strolled over to the HDC [Home Depot Center]. After paying another $15 for ‘standard parking’ I quickly found myself sitting next to Ness and Jen awaiting some of their friends for the big game that I had traveled out here for.

Soon three younger women, college age, were around Jen and Ness; they were all laughing and carrying on. The mood was light, and the atmosphere was stirring; then the sun came out.

It went from 70 to 115 degrees in about three minutes. No sunscreen, so of course I burned like none other. Eventually the gates opened up and we started to pour into the stadium
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As a soccer specific stadium; the HDC is incredible. Small, compact, and perfect for American soccer. Compared to Livestrong Sport Park? There isn’t even a contest. Jen, Ness, and myself found ourselves two and four rows from the field in the scorching direct sunlight for the entire match. However, when the national team players are that close to you; it’s hard to even care about the heat [aside from the growing sunburn].

Ness took off like a rocket when we stepped into the seating area. We couldn’t figure out why until we found her running down the stairs to the very edge of the seating. There, Aussie and all, she started to wave and yell at some of the Australian National Team players. Of course I would find myself hanging out with someone who played club soccer with these players. So, while waiting for the game to start, during warm ups; I got to just watch and listen to Ness and these players just carry on conversations as if they were neighbors. Go ahead, ask me if I’d ever been that close to national players from another country; yes, never. As quick as they came, they went back into their locker room for pregame.

We took our seats and waited for the crowds to arrive. By 12:30 AM PST there were close to 19,000 people crammed into this stadium; not a sold out event. Australia got off to a rocket start, and by half they were leading 1-0 over the United States. Truthfully, it was evident that when you’re playing a game that isn’t worth anything [not a qualifier] there isn’t much motivation except to please the public [aka US Soccer Federation]. Needless to say, as expected the USA came back in the second half with a quick goal and a PK to win the match 2:1. The little girls were thrilled, LA saw their childhood stars carry on, and the head coach left the USA on a good note.

Warm fuzzy’s all around.

Naturally, like many of the ‘critics’ out there I saw the game in its political sake of a ease of enthusiasm to the fans of the United States. It is what it is, for me it was definitely more about growing knowledgeable about the dynamics around me.
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During halftime I was able to meet several individuals that follow me on Twitter, and even two of most vocal people on the USA women’s deaf national team [who had just won a gold medal in the Deaf World Cup]. It was incredible to see so many people around me, so passionate, so moving on what their dream is; growing women’s soccer. So many, like the captain of the national team for the USA women’s deaf program had been neglected by so many over her 16 years of playing, and yet she never/hasn’t stopped. Jen and Ness, several times they were being told that their philosophy, their location, their dream wouldn’t succeed. This trip wasn’t just about the national game and Los Angeles, it was about finding the root, the believers, the growers, and the faithful.

While I did leave burnt to a crisp from that game, while sitting at Starbucks afterwards with Jen and Ness, prior to them hopping on their flight for home; it was a few hours of growth, determination, and fueling frustration. The system for women’s soccer in Australia is a complete mess. You/I think the US has it rough? We’re clueless. The USA Women’s National Deaf program? They have to find $120,000 prior to the Deaflympics next year in Bulgaria. These are programs that have been around, they have existed, and yet they continue to struggle. Who am I, the owner of a new program with fresh legs, to complain about the ‘unknown’ versus the rough and tumble?

While physically I’m rather spent, even though technically I haven’t done much [warning: allergies…dang…smoking me right now], mentally I’m charged and ready to go at. There’s so much to do in so little time, and even though I want nothing but success for the Kansas City Shock; mentally, it is so, so bigger. I want to run with Legacy FC, help Milwaukee United get off the ground, hang out with the Gulf Coast Texans, and watch the fans stream in for everyone of them, regardless of size.

The potential lies for something incredible, unique, and innovative, and this weekend; I got a taste of how far we’ve already come.

-D-

P.S. The left over Chicken Parm was out of this world good! Even without a fork.

 

Mobile Minutes: LA Part VII


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I’ll admit there are two things I’m not a fan of in Los Angeles.

One I suspected: Everything is overpriced! $10 for three pancakes? Seriously? My Iced Mocha was $4.50, about the price of a gallon of gas. Ouch.

One that surprised me: The coffee. I assumed that there would be home town shops everywhere, similar to Seattle. Nope. Not that I’m upset, but Starbucks dominates this city.

Regardless, I found the best I could this morning.

Cheers.

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-D-