As the Rapids enter a new season, league veteran Keegan Rosenberry has been appointed the title of team captain for the 2024 campaign by Head Coach Chris Armas. Now in his ninth season in MLS and sixth with the Rapids, Rosenberry’s knowledge of the game, club, and his teammates mixed with his affable nature made him the obvious choice for the role of captain.
Rosenberry factors his upbringing into how he approaches leadership, through acts of service and appreciation for the position. His support system, made up of his parents, two sisters, his wife and more, also shapes how he views the game and his role on the team through positive and negative points of the season. The gratitude for those people in his life makes him a better leader, as well, knowing that despite on-field results the values he was raised with will carry over and help him lead by example.
"The way I was raised there was more emphasis about principles and values and morals and the way you carry yourself, the way you treat others,” the captain said. “Concepts like servant leadership, love your neighbor as you love yourself, things like that.
“Something I'm super grateful for is having that support back home. After a really difficult season last year and feeling like we're failing game in and game out, to come home and still feel like I can let that go and be accepted and that soccer isn't the only reason that I'm validated.”
Rosenberry learned a lot about what leading the Rapids meant from Jack Price, former captain and three-time MVP of the Burgundy Boys, during his tenure at the club, especially in times of struggle.
The team and fanbase felt Price’s absence in the past two years as the midfielder battled many injuries before calling his time in burgundy, leaving the club in October. Rosenberry and Price racked up countless minutes together on the pitch for Colorado in the past five seasons and built a bond both on and off the field. Having someone he considers a friend makes all the difference when looking up to him as a leader as well, said Rosenberry.
“Very thankful for Jack's time and the way that he went about his business,” he said. “I think he was a guy that that almost everyone at the club felt like they could just strike up a conversation with, whether that was needing his support or his advice, or also just to be a friend.”
“I think that piece is also important. I want to be accessible to everyone, I want to serve people in any way that can help them. I think the captaincy title is a vote of confidence from a lot of the staff and the players...Jack was always supportive of teammates and staff especially in the tough times—that's a big part of it.”
Being a servant leader is one of the main pillars to an acronym that Armas concocted prior to the team’s first meeting ahead of preseason.
Spelling out “Rapids”, the acronym stands for Relentless, Appreciation, Passion, Integrity, Discipline, and Service, and is meant to call out specific characteristics of what a Rapids player is, on and off the pitch.
"For me, it was almost clear in the question of which guy do you want standing in that position and that represents our team—for the coin toss, in the community, on the pitch—and it was one that represents all those qualities that we feel are important,” Armas said. “He’s a guy that everyone respects top to bottom at our club. I think he gets rewarded for that and gets handed big responsibilities and we wanted to challenge his leadership.”
That attitude of service manifests itself in multiple ways for the new captain—making group chats, organizing outings, keeping tabs on younger players and his specialty—acting as the team barber.
He said he lined up four guys before even leaving for preseason and has done two cuts since arriving in Querétaro, avoiding doing them on days the team has two training sessions to stay off his feet as much as possible.
“It's another way to serve, it's another way to help guys out and I really do enjoy it,” he said. “Sitting there for 30, 40 minutes one-on-one in a room is obviously different than the conversations you can have on the field... I love that it helps guys out and they trust me to do it.”
It came unexpectedly, but Rosenberry now holds the title of eldest on the team at just 30 years old. The saying “age is just a number” rings true for the defender in more ways than one.
“Oldest player on the team has kind of a little bit of a false title for me just because I still feel young at heart,” he laughed. “I still feel like I can relate to the younger guys, I still feel like soccer and sports have a way of kind of hiding the age factor in that we're all trying to achieve the same thing."
He sees himself in rookies like the Rapids’ recent SuperDraft signings Nate Jones, Kimani Stewart-Baynes and Wayne Frederick, remembering what it was like to have conversations with veterans of the league when he began his professional career with the Philadelphia Union in 2016. Now that he’s the one being looked to for guidance, Rosenberry reiterates the gratitude he feels to be appointed to such a role heading into the 2024 season.
"It’s a very rewarding position for me to be in, especially considering my upbringing in leadership, serving others and impacting people,” he said. "By the time you're done living your life you want to have felt that you've impacted others in a positive way, and I put myself in a position to be a leader. The goal is to help others and to bring them along and give them a positive influence and hopefully a pathway to succeed.”