Joga Bonito

I went into the office around 10:00pm to talk with coach about some recruit visit days as well as recruiting trips.

I got home rather late, after midnight. Kellie had already gone to bed…she was headed there when I left. She has an early shift to work in the morning. When it comes to sleeping, I don’t do very good…

When I got back, I laid here in bed just thinking and trying to go to sleep. It got me thinking about “the beautiful game.”

I come from a rather poor soccer area. My high school only won 4 games in the 4 years I was there. They still haven’t had very good seasons since. I think the school record for wins in a season is somewhere around 6-8, and that was set around 2006 (give or take a year or two). No doubt about it, it is one of the most underdeveloped soccer areas in the state. I was all about soccer in high school. I always enjoyed playing growing up, but when I got to high school, it just blossomed and grew big time. Unfortunately, my first year in college, I wasted away at a dump of a college — but I was fortunate enough to make really good friends with the owner of an indoor soccer venue, where I ended up playing A LOT. I met some really good soccer people who I have remained friends with, most of them I had played soccer against in high school.

I had to get out of the dump of a college and at the time, my calling was to go into the ministry. I knew it. I still know it. That led me to Asbury…it was basically the only place I knew of because my pastor was a Asbury Theological Seminary graduate. I applied in June 2004, and just hoped and prayed. At the very end of July, I got the call of acceptance into Asbury — something that rather shocked me because of my lousy performance my first year in college. Then, a day or so later, the soccer coach at Asbury called me up and heard I was interested in soccer. WOW! Man I was THRILLED!

Long story short, I played 4 years for Coach Oakley at Asbury. We had some good years. We had some decent years. But most of all, they were all fun years. I didn’t always get what I wanted — that’s how it usually works out though. But the one thing I got was, a shot at my dream of being a college soccer player. I took full advantage of it. Now, I know I am not the most gifted athlete ever. Heck, I am not even much of a soccer player. But, I love the game. I worked hard at it. I wanted to get better because I knew it was the one thing on earth that really drove me to perfection.

TO, Tyler, me, and Coach Oakley reunited!

Right before my senior year in college, I had the opportunity to work with the Charlotte Eagles. This is a tremendous soccer club. Their mission is amazing. Working with them and working with youth soccer players, I knew I found my calling in the ministry…through the game of soccer. Since the summer of 2007, I have been truly blessed by the opportunities I have had to use the game of soccer to meet new people and make new friends, all through a simple game. A beautiful game.

I have had the opportunity to go to Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, Florida, South Dakota, Northern Ireland, Sweden, and now back to Ohio, all because of a little round piece of leather filled with air. Stops along those places in Illinois, Tennessee, Indiana, and Iowa have allowed me to see a lot of sites and meet people. It’s been amazing! Without soccer, I would probably have never been to any of these places to do the things I have done and meet the people I have met.

I have had the opportunity to work with some tremendous coaches. I love learning from them. It’s amazing how much you can pick up from other coaches, the learning never stops. It’s amazing how much you can pick up from players. Every player offers something new.

I don’t know what my future holds. I hope it’s continuing in the college soccer scene. It’s been an amazing 2+ years of college soccer coaching. I have had the opportunity to work with some tremendous athletes and soccer players. I look forward to every training session and game with the players. Each day is a new experience. Each day gives me joy in seeing young men (and women) playing “the beautiful game” and getting joy out of it. It puts a smile on my face.

Whoever reads this, please encourage those around you to have some dreams. I hope some of those dreams include being a college athlete…or even a professional athlete. It’s possible. It will be hard work. It will take dedication. It will require sacrifices. There’ll probably be some blood, sweat, and tears shed. But it’ll all be worth it. You’ll get to experience life like you never had before. Use your talents. Chase your dreams.

One thing that I always remember Coach Oakley saying, “God doesn’t bless mediocrity.” And it is so true. God wants perfection. He knows that we’ll fail. But there’s nothing wrong with trying to be perfect in every aspect of our lives. Don’t settle for less than what you can give this world. There’s a lot of talent in each and every person. Push them in using that talent. It doesn’t have to be in athletics. It could be in band, choir, math, science, English, writing, debate, computers, or any other skill one may have. Do it to the best of your ability.

My goal now, to help high school student-athletes achieve their dream of playing college soccer (and beyond if possible). Along the way, there will be great opportunities. We’ll have some fun. Share some laughs. Shed some tears. Drip sweat and blood. But in the end, we’ll have some of the best memories that money cannot buy. That’s what I have. I think about my college teammates daily. I enjoy seeing status updates and posts in facebook from them. It takes me back to the great memories we shared together. i want to give players the opportunity to do things they typically wouldn’t get to do by being a normal college student.

Experience life. Don’t just go through the motions. Step out of your comfort zone and do something that’s not normal. Who knows where it may lead you? God will use your dreams and passions to do good things.

Leave a legacy. What is your legacy going to be? There’s a lot of people who would benefit from what you have to offer them…don’t let them down.

“If you’re holdin’ heaven then spread it around, There are hungry hands reaching up here from the ground.” – Johnny Cash

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