Commerce City, Colo. – Have you ever thought of working in professional sports?
Have you ever thought that if only you were on the ‘inside’ of the team that you support, that you know you could do things better; could make a difference; could force improvements?
Have you ever sought out that opportunity, to work for something you are passionate for?
Meet Kieran Cain.
Some of you have heard of him, or have met him, or have worked with him.
He is the ultimate Colorado Rapids fan who has lived this scenario for the past 14 years – but that’s about to change, as he’s returning to the stands.
Here’s a little background on Kieran…
Back in 1996, during the Rapids inaugural season in Major League Soccer, Kieran was a regular in the stands at Mile High Stadium. Despite the team’s poor record, he was hooked on the Rapids.
For the 1997 season, he joined the Rapids as an intern, working with the operations department.
At season’s end, the Rapids went on a magical run and made it to the MLS Cup championship game.
It was a dream beginning - he joined the organization and look what happened!
The MLS Cup that year was played in late October at RFK Stadium in Washington DC. Some of you may recall what the weather in Denver was like during that weekend – it was the third worst snowstorm in Denver history. (Here’s Kieran’s description of that weekend)
Kieran was one of the interns that made it to the nation’s capital ahead of the storm and was there supporting his Rapids – on his own dime. He yelled his lungs out in the pouring rain throughout the game, was invited to the post-game reception, and he became a Rapids fan for life.
The next year, he sought out, was offered, and accepted a job with the organization as a ticket sales executive.
Over the next few years, Kieran faced the challenges associated with working on an MLS team – and took them head on.
A different mindset was needed from being a fan in the stands, to being a fan in the office and understanding why some things couldn’t be done as he’d envisioned.
He stubbornly endured, mostly because of his passion for the team - to see it succeed, to see the League succeed.
He advanced within the sales department, a result of countless hours on the phones and in meetings.
When the club started a community relations department, they asked Kieran to head it.
When the team needed someone to oversee the gameday production, Kieran took on the role.
When they needed someone to head the marketing department, Kieran was given the opportunity.
When PR needed help with notes or press releases, Kieran stepped right up.
He wouldn’t say no. He couldn’t say no. He was a fan, and he felt he could make a difference at every turn.
Kieran was there in 2001, when the brass had to put together a presentation to show MLS why the team should not be contracted. The Rapids are still here, while Miami and Tampa are no more.
He stuck with the team through the ownership change in 2003.
He was involved in the early stages of designing Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, took part in the ground-breaking, and was there on opening day in 2007.
Kieran was part of the small team that put together the Bid Book to bring the FIFA World Cup to Colorado. (Denver is one of the 18 cities that made the final cut to host games if the USA is awarded the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup).
He listened to the fans, and was part of making the Supporters Terrace a reality.
The World Cup Viewing Parties. All him.
He’s a team historian.
He’s seen hundreds of players and staff members come through. Been to hundreds of games, too.
He has worn the green and white, draped the black and blue, and he bleeds burgundy.
He’s done it all with a genuine joy, always optimistic, never forgetting how fortunate he was to be working in soccer – and for the Rapids. His Rapids.
Over the past 14 years, he’s seen a lot with the organization, and it’s not all been rosy. Some things, quite honestly, have not worked the way he or the club had hoped. Frustrated at times, he plugged away.
All along, he’s known that by being part of a sports organization, one is fair game to criticisms from fans and media. But inside, he knows that he, too, is a fan, and he’s never lost that passion to work hard with the resources available to get the most out of every action. He knows how much fans want the club to be successful, on and off the field.
He’s suffered as much as fans have. Outside the office, he yells at the TV when the team gives up a goal or misses a scoring chance; he debates with friends on how the team should play, or who should play, or how bad a call was.
He’s traveled to road games; cheered and celebrated wins and other positive moments.
He’s met his wife and they had a child during his time with the Rapids.
He’s made lifelong friends.
So, imagine the surprise – shock to some – when he informed the staff a few weeks ago that he was moving on. No one could believe it. Some still can’t.
If you could have seen him these past few weeks – finishing out meetings, crossing every ‘t’, dotting every ‘i’, forwarding tons of emails – you, too, would have a hard time believing that he’s leaving this organization that he’s dedicated so much of his life to and cared so much for.
But, life changes for everyone. He was presented with an opportunity that was too good to pass up at this point in his life. And, he also loves the outdoors, so it’s fitting that he’ll be moving up to Breckenridge to head their marketing department.
We know he’ll be back for games, and will always be supporting the Rapids. So if you see him in the stands, welcome him back to the supporters he’s lived and worked vicariously for.
Kieran, thanks for all you’ve done for the club. We wish you and your family all the best.
Oh, and take it easy on us from the other side.