Preseason is behind us and the universal optimism of First Kick approaches fast. After two weeks in the desert (we weren’t wandering, I promise), the traveling portion and extended hotel stays, a necessary part of soccer life in the North American winter, finally abates. And I can speak for most of the players when we say that does not make us sad in the least bit. Four weeks on the road can challenge anyone’s defenses against boredom.
Away from home and family, residing in similar looking hotel rooms, players do their best to bond and to exhaust all means of diversion. On our team, cards have been popular amongst the group with guys like Nathan Sturgis, Marc Burch, Dillon Powers, John Berner, Shane O’Neill and Dillon Serna all playing. I jumped in with those guys and while I’m no veteran at cards, I had some beginner's luck and managed to preserve my pride.
For those not joining the card games, Netflix has provided endless hours of entertainment. Breaking Bad and House Of Cards seem to be satiating everyone’s binge-watching opportunities, as well as providing good discussion topics (Q: Where does Frank Underwood go from here? A: Down, down, down, down.).
There’s even been a solid online gaming group pop-up. I can report that there is a Colorado Rapids clan on Clash of Clans, the ubiquitous mobile game. A few guys do stuff on there. By stuff, I mean that I am unqualified to speak about it, so ‘stuff’ will have to suffice.
All of these activities provide the dual goals of getting to know each other and passing time.
It’s not rare to see players gazing over their teammates shoulders watching viral videos or Champions League goals via Twitter or Vine. Some old-school managers have lamented the rise of cell phones in locker room culture, complaining players have ensconced themselves in their own world and don’t get to know their teammates. I’ve found it’s just the opposite. If anything, cell phones have provided another opportunity for teammates to laugh together, to show each other what they’re interested in and to share other personal moments with each other. That’s the whole goal of preseason, right?