June 15, 2011 1 Comment
A day in the life… I love being a soccer player. I love being a professional athlete. I love being a member of a team. Basically I love my job. How many people get to do what they love everyday? My job involves every aspect of my life. Soccer lays a claim on what you do off the field to make sure when the lights come on the game goes well. While game day gets its glory, the days before are vitally important for me and my teammates to prepare for what our fans get to see on the field. So enjoy the ride while you follow me through a typical weekday with the Atlanta Beat.
Beep Beep Beep Beep
That’s the sound most people wake up to in the morning. It gets them throwing things at the alarm clock, throwing it on the ground, or hitting the snooze. While, I do love a few extra minutes in bed, getting up for work is a good part of the day because my job is the best. Few people get to play a game for a living. And I love it.
My job has a few demands on my life that aren’t typical in the everyday 9am-5pm.. One is the beep, beep, beep that haunts many a soccer players dreams. Fitness. The beep test is a common fitness testing measure, and while we don’t run it too often we spend a lot of time making sure the team can last 90 minutes on the weekend. Another demand on the professional soccer player is that every moment of the day affects how you perform. Taking care of your body is vitally important. So my days start off with fuel. I need to eat a lot to cover what we burn in the Georgia heat… Usually some good oatmeal with crasins, almonds, and a nice spoonful of brown sugar. Breakfast is essential to performance.
My roommates and I carpool to practice in the mornings to save the earth from more pollution and our pocketbooks from spending more money on gas. On the commute depending on the teammates’ taste in music we rock out, chill out, work out, or listen to country (my favorite choice). We practice our on the field communication skills in solving the puzzle of who drove last, who has errands after practice and who has to go early for the training room. While seeming simple enough these daily communication skills occasionally cause an error with a spare body or two that have to squeeze in a back seat. Communication is essential to the game.
Practice is practice anywhere, but the environment here in Atlanta is intense and requires a lot of focus. As a kid you learn to love the game of soccer. Most people love scoring, shooting, finishing in any way. As a goalkeeper I love simply catching the ball, snatching a cross from a forwards head, and diving and tipping a ball over the post. Practice is our obvious preparation with a few hours in the morning with the team. We always work on our technical, tactical, mental, physical, and character each practice. That’s the structure, but the fun we all love to do and watch is playing the game. We, the Beat, get competitive when we play our favorite small sided games. While I don’t want to give away any of our secrets, we always keep score. In a 3v3 tournament this week, Cat Whitehill made sure to be on the winning team. She secured coupons for her team to a local restaurant in reward. I was jealous even though the keepers were doing a fun session on our own.
Athletes need to keep their bodies running like a finely tuned machine. Post practice involves ice baths (for some of our wiser older players who actually feel the necessity of recovering between practices a little more), stretching, and massage. I appreciate the healing hands that work out those pesky knots and aches every now and again.
While I’ve been telling you some of the demands we face, there are many benefits. One is daily naps. We all nap after practice most days. While I am not a day sleeper personally, I greatly value a little alone time with a book, the TV, or a little music. One of my roommates, India Trotter, is quite the napper with the ability to sleep any time of day for extended periods of time. Our other household activity is community TV. Several times a week we watch movies or shows together of varying levels of maturity. This week was a kids movie, Halloweentown… very entertaining to say the least.
After nap time, TV time, and snack time this week we had clinics to participate in. We had youth coaches come to our fields to watch us train and observe sessions and drills we do often. These practices were fun to get to practice a little for an audience and put on some moves. While it’s not the same as a game, it changes the energy of a practice. Occasionally appearances or clinics like this pop up on the schedule with the team coaching a hundred and fifty kids from a local club or like this weeks playing for twenty youth coaches, but they are all an opportunity to share the game that we love with the people we play for. The same routine follows our evening sessions as the morning. Fuel, carpool, practice, treatments, carpool, EAT, sleep. We have to take care to get in bed and sleep. Sleep is vastly important to recovery and preparation. And that is where I am headed now. Hope you enjoyed a day in the life of the Atlanta Beat!