Let me start by saying I am a realist. Sure, when I was 5 years old and received my first pair of cleats, I thought I would be the greatest soccer player ever. As the youngest of three, and the son of a father who coached all our teams, I was a quick learner. I would go so far as to say I was the best penalty-kick taker on the Greyhound Puppies Farm Division team in the Valley Stream Soccer Club. Although it is unclear if my shots were that good or if the goalkeepers just could not see the ball through the unusually large foam helmets they were forced to wear. Regardless, even as the Greyhound Puppies grew up to become the Whippets, I was still a consistent performer and ranked toward the upper echelon of players in our soccer club. But in the end, I knew my limits. Even back then, I knew I was better at reading, writing, and arithmetic than nutmegging defenders and performing rainbows.
As my game progressed, so did the game of the millions of other kids my age who played soccer. So for the next 10 years, I found my niche, did it well, and contributed to the various youth soccer teams that I played for.
Growing up, I was concerned with being good at so many things that I became content with never being truly great at any one thing. I loved playing soccer, tennis, baseball, and basketball (although if you actually saw my skills on the court, you wouldn't think that). If you throw in the violin and my schoolwork, I never had time to focus my attention on only soccer. Now, however, things have changed, and with only my job to worry about, I have time to put the focus into soccer that I could not 15 years ago. With that said, I am going to get back to a dream that a 5-year old once had by trying out for a professional soccer team in Dynamo Trials 2011, presented by Lloyd’s Register.
Do I think that I have a chance to make the Houston Dynamo? Absolutely not. I don’t have the ball skill of Brad Davis, the tenacity of Brian Ching, or the creativity of Geoff Cameron. If I tried to go toe-to-toe with Cam Weaver or Andre Hainault, I would probably end up like most boxers after a few rounds with Manny Pacquiao. But I do have $75 (the registration fee), a pair of cleats, and a fool’s dream.
I have spent the past few weeks training for Dynamo Trials, which begins on Saturday, September 10, at the Houston Amateur Sports Park. Knowing that the first day is all about fitness, I have been running every day after work to improve my conditioning. Dynamo Director of Youth Development James Clarkson has also been kind enough to allow me to train with his U-16 squad to help get my fitness and ball-work up to par. After two training sessions with the team, I realize there is still a lot of work to be done. Even at 15 or 16, these kids think quick, move quicker, and are blessed with an innate ability that I have never had.
Each day, I will blog about my training leading up to Dynamo Trials. Hopefully by the end of the week, I can give you all a little more insight into what it is like to train like a professional soccer player. If I’m still standing by the end of the fitness test on Saturday, I will consider this a success. If I am fortunate to advance to the skills test on Sunday, that would be an added bonus. In the end, though, it’s all about living a dream that a 5-year old had, and showing that with hard work, dedication, and some God-given talent, anything is possible.