Commerce City, Colo. (September 11, 2011) - Today marks 10 years since the horrific events when terrorist hijacked planes and used them as missiles to killed thousands of people in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. While the memories of that tragic day live with many on a daily basis, on this day the world stops to remember and honor those that lost their lives and those that were, and still are, personally affected.
ColoradoRapids.com asked several members of the current Rapids team where they were on that day. I also want to share my experience to give fans a refresher on how the Rapids' season was affected.
Kosuke Kimura (defender):
I was a senior in high school in Japan. I came back from school and turned the TV on saw what was happening in New York. At that time I didn't know I would later be going to the U.S., but when I saw that I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't even imagine was it was like to be there. I had never been outside the country at the time, and it took a long time to grasp what was happening in the U.S. It happened in Manhattan, one of the most populated cities in the U.S.; we didn't know what was going on but thought what if it happens to us (in Tokyo). It was horrible, all those people dying. Even right now it's unreal that it happened, and has been 10 years. It's just crazy.
David Kramer (goalkeeper coach):
I was at practice with the Rapids. We saw what was going on TV before hand but no one really knew what the extent of it was. We showed up to Westminster (training complex) and watched a little more on TV, and Tim Hankinson, our coach at the time, said let's go out and train. When we came back in we obviously saw the magnitude of it.
Sanna Nyassi (forward):
I was in Gambia, and was at training with my youth team at Ports Authority in Banjul. After practice I went home and with my whole family we were watching it on TV. Everybody was like, "terrorists attacked America." There was fear. Every body was scared thinking there was going to be another world war. The way those planes hit those building, it was scary.
At the time I had not been to the U.S. before, and I was hoping it would not be hard to get a U.S. visa, because I had it in my dreams that one day I would come to the United States.
I am muslim, and this has caused a lot of people to think that muslims are bad people, when it's not like that. There are bad people who are muslims, and they try to cover themselves with the Islamic name and try to do horrible things. Islam is against crime and killing, so I don't think those people are really muslims. They just call themselves muslims. It's really painful when people use your religion to do bad things and make other people think that your religion is bad.
Ian Joyce (goalkeeper:
It was my junior year of high school in New Jersey, and I had an orthonist appointment that morning so I went in late. As soon as I walked in to the classroom we saw it on the TV. A couple school mates and I drove to a hill where you could see the skyline of the City and so much smoke leaving the buildings. And then soon enough we saw the buildings fall. It was so surreal. All the fire trucks and ambulances were screaming by us on the highway going to the City, and I don't even know if they could get in. A lot of my friends in high school had parents that were involved. My mother's friend from college was on the top floor. Everybody in the country was affected, but in the tri-state area, everybody knew somebody that was closely affected by it. I can't believe it's been 10 years already.
Joseph Nane (midfielder):
I was still in high school, in Cameroon. I remember turning on the TV, and flipping to CNN and they were showing it. I didn't quite understand what I was watching. I thought maybe it was a set up or a movie. And as I watched I realize the USA was attacked. I was shocked.
Brian Mullan (midfielder):
It was my first year in the League, I was in LA. We woke up and we never used to turn the TV but with my wife we turned the TV on that morning. We were glued to it, in shock. I remember the season was cancelled, and in the playoffs everybody was trying to pay tributes to those involved.
(NOTE: Brian had relatives who were former firefighters in NYC at the time but everyone was ok. After so many firefighter's lost their lives that day, Brian's older brother also became a firefighter in NYC is currently a Captain).
Scott Palguta (defender):
It was my freshman year of college and I was up at Cornell. One of my good friends from high school was a freshman at NYU, so she was actually only a few blocks away (from the World Trade Center). I remember having an early class that day and chatting with her on instant messenger before. She had told me that one of the buildings was on fire, she could see it out her window. That was before we knew it was a terrorist attack. I didn't think much of it and went to my morning class and that's when I saw what happened.
Cornell has a lot of alumns that lived in New York City, so there were so many people on campus that had family and friends that were in and around those buildings, so obviously there was a lot of concern. My family is from Jersey shore, so we were far away, and didn't have friends or family that were in the Trade Center at the time. But there was many families in New Jersey that were devastated that day.
Jaime Roja (Head Athletic Trainer):
I was with the Miami Fusion, and we were packing that morning because we were going to New York that day to play the MetroStars the next day, which was a Wednesday. Thursday we were going to fly to (Washinton) D.C. to play DC United that weekend. Our equipment manager, Marcus (Owens), who is now with Dallas, had a TV over in the locker room and called me over. We saw one building on fire and were trying to figure out what was going on, when the second plane hit. Soon all flights were cancelled and we knew we weren't going anywhere.
The question I kept getting was if I was going back to the military. At that time I almost wanted to re-enlist, but with my circumstances I couldn't. It was horrible. To this day I can't even look at the pictures.
Jamie Smith (midfielder):
I was in Glasgow, Scotland preparing for a Champions League game againt Juventus. I was driving to training and heard it over the radio. I just remembered being shocked by it, because I never thought any person or group of people could act in such a way. (The game was cancelled and re-scheduled).
Caleb Folan (forward):
I was a Leeds United at the time, we were eating lunch in the cantina. We always had the TV on and every channel broke to this story in the U.S., the twin towers were on every channel. We had seen that a plane had hit one of the towers but we didn't know what was going on, just in shock that a plane had crashed. We never once thought that it was a planned attack. We were glued to it. I don't remember anyone training or anything, just glued to the TV for hours. Even when I went home, I was following it on the radio and then when I got home. I went to NY on my 21st birthday and visited ground zero. I remember I stood there in the same spot for over an hour, just looking. I couldn't believe it.
Danny Earls (defender):
I was in school in Ireland. I remember that day perfectly well, I was taking an art class at the time. The teacher came in said we had a half day, and as students we were happy but we didn't what the situation was. When we found out we all started talking about it and were just devastated. America was hit so hard, but it hit every country in the world. Everyone was so shocked. I had a cousin who had just flown back from New York City a week before, and he had cousins over there, one who was a firefighter, so he was pretty shook up. His cousin was ok but he was in and around it all. I'm not sure he made it in the towers but all the firefighters helped so many people around there.
Steward Ceus (goalkeeper):
I was in Albany, New York, which is 45 minutes from the City. I remember being in science class my freshman year of high school, sleeping in the back. The principal came on the PA and announced exactly what happened. As the day went on counselors came on the PA and told us how to reach them if we wanted to talk. I remember it wasn't until I got home that I could see exactly what happened, seeing the images and just feeling so bad about it all. I didn't know anybody in the area at the time, but a lot of my family are nurses in the City and they were working 48-60 hours straight taking care of people. It was devastating.
Chris Sharpe (goalkeeper):
It was late evening, I was home in Sydney, Australia watching a movie on cable TV with my mom. The movie flipped over to a burning building and we were so intrigued. We didn't know what happened, just saw the breaking news on the screen. A few minutes later we saw another plane come across and hit the other tower. We stayed up to 3-4 in the morning watching, in disbelief at what was going on, trying to understand what was happening.
Mike Holody (defender):
I was in 9th grade, where I grew up in Clarkston, Michigan. When I got to class the TV was on and the first tower was on fire. I remember the feeling I got of being confused as to what was going on. They sent us all home after the towers fell, and everyone was worried about where the next attack was going to be. I didn't know anyone in New York at the time, but it was certainly scary because you didn't know if there was going to be more cities attacked. It was sad and scary to watch.
Jeff Larentowicz (midfielder):
I was a freshman in college (Brown) and it was the first week of class. I was taking Spanish class at 8:30 on Tuesday morning and found out when I was in class. I was shocked. I remember there was a book store on the main street in the school that had a TV in the window, it was hard to avoid it. I would stop to watch the TV to try to figure out what had happened. It was hard initially because at the time my mom was working in New York back and forth a lot, and I couldn't get in touch with her, like many people that morning. So I was a little scared at first but then got in touch with her and she was ok.
Pablo Mastroeni (midfielder):
I was with Miami (Fusion) at the time and remember turning my TV on that morning, eating my breakfast. I saw the plane hit the tower, and didn't know what was going, the media didn't know what was going on. They kept showing the plane hit and then saying we were victims of a terrorist attack. I remember not understanding the enormity of the situation. We were traveling to New York that day to play the MetroStars the following day. Being ignorant to the situation was interesting at the time because I actually didn't pack a bag - I went to the stadium already telling them there's no way I was getting on a plane to go to New York. Sure enough when I got to the training center it was obvious that the issue was bigger than anything I could have imagined. The amount of lives that were lost was just so tragic. I remember Ray Hudson, our coach at the time, said to go home and spend time with those that you love and be grateful for the things that you have. I didn't have anyone there real close to me, but it felt like I did.
German Sferra (Director, Digital Media):
I was part of the Rapids ticket sales department at the time. Our sales staff had been in D.C. three weeks before, courtesy of DC United. We had defeated their staff in a sales contest, so they had to fly us to the nation's capital for a game, a weekend of idea sharing, and, of course, fun. I still remember throwing open the curtains in the hotel room and seeing the Pentagon across the way. The following Saturday - on September 1 - myself and two colleagues went back to D.C. to attend the U.S. vs Honduras World Cup Qualifier at RFK Stadium.
Long-time Rapids fans will remember that the team was not in good form that year and we had been mathematically eliminated from making the playoffs. With only two games left, the only bright spot was that the game scheduled for September 12 against the Columbus Crew was going to be the Rapids' first game played at the new Broncos stadium, at the time known as Invesco Field at Mile High. The Broncos inaugurated the stadium by hosting the New York Giants on Monday night football on September 10. Many of us hit the Lodo bars that night, becoming a grassroots marketing team trying to encourage football fans to come check out our game at the new stadium two days later.
A co-worker called me early on the 11th to tell me to turn my TV on. I watched in disbelief at what was unfolding, no longer even thinking of going to work. I tried for an hour to reach my family by phone to let them know I was safe and in Colorado. Not too long after I received a call from my boss to tell me we'd be having a staff meeting later in the day. Neighboring co-workers came over and we were glued to the TV, trying to comprehend what was happening, and wondering what would happen next.
I remember going to our building on 17th Street and Welton and walking around the lobby for a while before I had the courage to get in the elevator to go up to our 33rd floor office. Our GM at the time, Dan Counce, spoke with compassion about the events and told us that the game the next day would oviously be cancelled. We learned later that the final games of MLS regular season were cancelled, and the current standings would be used to set the playoff seeding. Our season was over, but we watched the other MLS teams represent the soccer community by playing again, joining other pro leagues to share the message that sports can help us unify, reflect, and heal.