Being a rookie in the MLS, and what I learned from my first practices
When you’re a little kid, you dream of what your future will look like. For me, it was becoming a pro soccer player.
It is always humbling to know your hard work paid off and you have made your dreams reality. This was what was running through my head as I arrived at Dicks Sporting Goods Park for preseason with the Colorado Rapids. I'm writing this blog to let you know what it is like to be a rookie in your first few practices as a pro. My experiences were helpful, and these were the eight things that stood out.
1. My excitement was out the roof
This moment was terrific because I had dreamt about this and it was finally here. I was a professional soccer player in the highest league in the US. I felt accomplished because not many can say they achieved this level and all the hard work and dedication paid off. I loved stepping into the stadium and seeing my locker, the weight room, the boot room, the gear, EVERYTHING was new and this added to my feeling!
2. This was the first time being paid to play soccer
I was getting paid to play a game I had been playing since I was four. Soccer at the end of the day is a game, and I was making a living out of it. I understood at that moment that what is expected of me is on another level. These are businesses trying to make money, so I had to perform, or they'd find someone else that could. The pressure was on, but I embraced this pressure and continued to try and be the best player I could be.
3. I was a little star struck because I grew up watching some players I now call teammates.
I'm now teammates with US great Pablo Masteroeni; I'm having conversations with two time World cup participate with Argentina, Claudio Lopez, and a list of other players I grew up watching and admiring. This was cool and something I'll never forget. Being able to learn from guys like this is indeed a blessing.
4. It was competitive
I didn't have a family and minimal responsibilities when I played, so my perspective was different from my teammates with wives and kids. This was how they provided, so they're training on another level and making sure they earn their money. This is something people forget because you're playing a "game." It was more than a game to some of my teammates which in turn helped me with my development.
5. I was overwhelmed.
There comes the point in anything you're learning for the first time where it feels impossible to improve. At times, I felt this way. I had never trained and participated in anything like this, so for me, this was intense and difficult.
6. It physically was draining.
I leaned on the veterans and chatted with them about my experiences; they were always helpful and patient with me. I learned quickly to bounce back from my mistakes and to keep pushing forward. This was important in my development and took this advice everywhere I went>
7. I was excited about the opportunity.
It is another level of excitement because I was a professional soccer player. I now had to make the most out of the situation and put my best foot forward every moment. The work starts now and needs to continue if I wanted to make the most out of this opportunity. I was training on my own because that was required to be a pro. Everyone is working and if you want to fall behind, not working on your craft will do that.
8. I learned a lot
I was a sponge while I played and it was a time in my life that helped me shape who I am today. I learned to be honest with myself and to use that as motivation to never give up and to keep working on my game. I asked so many questions from players who have been pros longer than me. Ask questions and ask for help if you truly want to be a student of the game and to improve!
Professional soccer will teach you a lot about yourself. It will challenge you not just in sport, but in life to continue to grow and learn continually. I don't play anymore, but I still apply the skills I learned as a pro in my day today. I encourage you all to keep a growth mindset and to push towards any dreams and aspirations you have in mind.