Jake’s Lone Venture to OKC

Unfortunately, for this post I’ll be writing this blog solo as Aust wasn’t able to make the OKC trip.  Traveling without Austin was interesting. It was the first time that that’s happened in two seasons.  I missed my friend’s fast paced mannerisms; however, I didn’t miss him asking me if I had a room key every time we stepped out the door.  Anywho, since you guys are stuck with me this week and instead of interviewing myself like a weirdo I’m going to change it up a bit. Highlights of this week are purple penguins and worry!!!!                                                                                      

OKC field

            What do I worry about? I worry about not giving up soft goals.  I worry about overeating. I worry about not eating enough. I worry about being strong/quick enough.  I worry about not being good enough. I worry if I’m doing enough to get better. I worry about not getting enough sleep. I worry about not following my routines. I worry about not being a good friend. I worry about not being a good teammate.  I worry about not being understood. I worry about not finding a purpose. I worry about letting my family down. I worry about my close-ones. I worry about tsundoku. I worry about genetically enhanced super dinosaurs…. I mean who doesn’t.

Why do I bring this up? When I was reading (big shock there) on the road trip to OKC I started to fixate on that word, WORRY.  It frequently came up in the book I was reading. So, I took a brief break, and wrote down all the prospective worries I could think of in a two-minute span.  The above list was the result of my two-minute thought experiment. What began as an experiment to find and soothe tension in my head, actually brought out the worst.  One led to two, which then led to 15 and probably more if I had given myself more time. The issue is the second I started to bring these negative thoughts into fruition in my head, off-shoots and branches engulfed me in an avalanche of self-doubt.

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Lil’ Sebastian

As the doubt lingered the bus had stopped.  We were in OKC. Gut reaction was it was going to be a great time, but I was definitely unsure (always listen to your guts guys).  As I walked into the hotel (21C Museum). I saw a five-foot purple penguin plastic sculpture; which duplicates were on sale in the shop around the corner.  Of course, I wanted one, as it’s my favorite animal, but let’s just put it this way: lil Sebastian was a little bit out of my price range. So, with my hopes and dreams of owning a gaudy, yet immaculate penguin sculpture squashed by a limited USL salary, I decided to take a stroll through the rest of the museum.  Pop art really isn’t my thing, but looking at art is soothing (that’s why I took AP Art History in high school).

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One of the books I read on the trip was Ascent of Money.  It talks about the Medici family. Well, here’s a member of their clan.

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Another book I read was called Shadow, about presidents and the inner turmoil they go through during the job. President Lincoln reflects those feelings here.

The group was stoked to get out on the field; we call that game-day vibes.  However, they weren’t excited for the chilly 20-minute walk around grey buildings in the middle of a Midwest thunderstorm. As the black clouds loomed over-head I found solace in a little coffee shop Sam recommended.  Okay Yeah Co. was amazing.  Great vibes from this place as it wasn’t just a coffee shop, but also doubled as a plant store.  Yes, plants. I love plants. I think it’s something I picked up from my father, he has a green thumb. And according to Austin, a recent radiolab podcast suggests that plants can actually learn behavior through Pavlov-esque conditioning without actually having a brain. Ironically, that’s mind boggling. Anyways, as I explored, I saw a lot of familiar vegetation. They had snake plant, Swedish ivy, pathos, aloe, cacti, and zebra plants.  The one plant that I couldn’t find was spider plant, my dad has like 12 pots of it our backyard. It was an awesome atmosphere to share coffee with friends, amplified more by great conversation.  The coffee shop and I parted ways, and as I walked the two blocks back to the hotel in a slight drizzle, the only thing on my mind being the game.

 

Best coffee shop so far!

Don’t get me wrong, some people can stir up enough positive motivation to curb self-doubt when it starts, but I’m not a member of that club.   Being as introspective as I am, I tend to delve too deep and get stuck in the proverbial quick-sand of negative self-thought. The more I think, the quicker I descend, and the more I get stuck.  So, how do I get around this? Well as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “As a cure for worrying, work is better than whiskey”. Ergo, I go to work. I put my head down and start to toil forgetting about the mental puzzle in my mind.  It’s easy to get stuck, and hard to move on, and the only way to do so is by showing myself I have the capacity to out-work my negative thoughts. And if not, I always have secondary, and tertiary options to fall back on. I mean try being in a bad mood while watching the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.  It’s not possible.

Now, I know a lot of people will be asking questions about my mental state heading into the OKC game.  It was never an issue. All those worries were extinguished before I got off the bus. It was just a thought experiment, and I’m a pretty smart kid.  I understand my emotions well-enough and I have adequate problem-solving skills to address issues as they arise. I am a goalkeeper after all. Through my extensive reading, I’ve learned how to mitigate worry from my mind.  I’ll be honest, worry, doubt, fear still have the potential to creep up from time to time, (yes, even in games) I just go through my protocols. In the grand scheme my worries are minute in comparison to others and it does me no good to fixate on them. So, I move on. Speaking of moving on, it was great to leave OKC with three points.  I know the On Tour crew loved every single minute of it.

 

Thanks guys for reading and we can’t wait to put out more content!!!!

 

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Saint Louis does San Antonio: Trip #2

So we owe you an apology. It’s been entirely too long since our last post! HOWEVER, they do say there’s a reason for everything and, well, we’d like to use that as our scapegoat this time around. Over the past couple of weeks we’ve been narrowing in on a new project. You may think we spend most of our time perfecting our game- working on deliveries into the box, goal kicks, dribbling with speed, coming out for aerial balls, and you’re right, that is true. Yet we also perfect the details of projects off the field as you are already aware! That being said, we have a special announcement to make:

AFTER JUST ONE POST ON OUR BLOG, the USL has reached out to the Saint Louis FC staff, as well as Jake and I, and have asked us to lead a league-wide podcast that will cover unique stories of players and their journeys!! We are stoked. It’d be cliche to write solely about soccer and how each player landed on two feet at their current teams so our goal is to give you something so stimulating it revitalizes your perspectives about not just players, but people all over the world. Wouldn’t you want to hear about a refugee from Congo, for example? To know us as soccer players, we believe you have to know us as people first. The previously mentioned theme was the entire idea behind the blog in the first place! Now, being paralleled with our blog, we will be producing a podcast once a week, through the USL’s From the Pitch platform that will air for the first time in just a couple weeks! We’re excited for this opportunity, and thankful for the collaboration efforts. But that’s also where you come in! While Jake and I feel confident about our content, it’s always of the utmost importance that we hear your feedback. So if you’re reading this blog, whether it be through a comment on wordpress, a tweet at either of us, or a direct message… please let us know if there’s a particular player you’d like to hear from or a certain theme! We’d love to understand and know what you want to be filled in about.

Now that we’ve caught our breath, let’s take a look back at it, at our trip, now a distant memory, to San Antonio.

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Jake’s Questions for Austin: 

Jake: Last week in blog #1 you asked me what my favorite road trip was. I’ll ask you a similar question with a twist. Speaking from and off the field experience how does this was line-up?

Austin: Not a quick answer, but gut reaction is top 10, potentially top 5. San Antonio had a lot to offer! Being able to explore the coffee scene and a local farmers market highlighted the trip. Even more so, an evening river walk with the team was captured well by freelance photographer Sam Fink. Dude is a stud with the lens when he’s not on the field.

Jake: Alrighty then, enlighten me, why do you think that?

Austin: When you’re on the road, you look at the schedule for the day and often you see five different things: 1) breakfast 2) a team walk 3) pre-game meal 4) meeting 5) and a whole lot of down time. Part of being a professional athlete is having a routine. Anytime you travel the chance for your routine to be thrown off increases greatly. So it’s important for me to do the same things as I would do as if I were at home. On game day, that still means waking up early and stimulating my mind with interests outside of soccer until the pre-game meal. For me San Antonio offered just that, a local coffee shop….

Jake: Hahaha just so everyone knows, we went to a coffee spot called Local Coffee. Austin thinks he’s funny with his puns. Sorry Aust for interrupting, please continue.

D8599BE1-7B96-40B6-B062-A9BC897F100D.JPGAustin: Always gotta be adding in a little something huh… anyway before I was rudely interrupted, a local coffee shop, a farmers market, and a river walk that resembled the alleyways and canals of Venice…. I know because I’ve seen pictures from my in-laws.

Jake: So you’re definitely excited to go to Vegas then?

Austin: If you’re referring to the Venetian, then yes, the thought of taking a gondola ride is exciting considering I just listened to Radio Lab’s Podcast episode titled Gondolier. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this podcast by the way. However, all decisions I make financially only hold 50% power. Remember, I’m married.

Jake: Well, maybe we will split it….. Just like we split all of our other ride shares, Mr. No Uber. Anyways, San Antonio Football Club has a pretty decent setup, don’t you think? Can you give us your impressions?

Austin: Great Set Up. It’s a bit in the middle of barren land- kind of off highway with a lot of spare land but it certainly creates a great atmosphere in Toyota Stadium. The stands are extra close to the field, and you feel you’re inside of a bowl with fans looking down in- almost a little like the Gladiator.

Jake: As our readers will quickly find out you’re very peculiar about what goes into your body, what did you pack in your “picnic basket” for this trip?

Austin: First let it be known, that I don’t follow a specific diet or trend. Nonetheless, everything i put into my body is a heavily researched and conscious decision. There will be a post about this later! For this trip, I woke up at 4:30am the day we traveled and immediately prepared meals for the trip. Which included zoodles with a curry ground veggie burger…

Jake: Definitely smelled that in the locker room before we left…. Go on….

Austin: … sweet potato fries, chicken and quinoa, a few pieces of fruit, Lara Bar Bites, Icelandic Dark Chocolate, and Spicy Cayenne Pumpkin seeds.

Jake: Let’s not forget the pizza you murdered after the game…. What made you realize you wanted to be a professional athlete? And when did you make this decision? As a kid, in high school or in college?

Austin: Well I will say the one exceptional is immediately after the game. With the amount of distance I cover and the load I put on my body, I feel it’s only fair to devour a pizza, or chipotle, or bowl of ice cream. It’s the one time in the week I allow myself to fall off the wayside.

Anyway, I definitely have a unique answer to this question. I was never sure if I wanted to become a professional athlete. I’ve always loved sports but I’ve also loved the freedom to pursue whatever I’m interested in. The more I read and learn about culture, I have interests in many corners of the spectrum, and world for that matter. I had actually committed to a year long volunteer internship with Grassroots Soccer. I was going to serve in South Africa and I was thrilled. I decided to become a professional athlete after an agent picked up his phone, rang me up, and offered to work on my behalf because he believed in me and knew I could make it. Now I’m in my 4th season as a pro soccer player.

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Jake: Interesting! What keeps you grounded after a big win or a tough result?

Easily my faith in Jesus. Hebrews 12:11-13 says “For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose]. So then, strengthen hands that are weak and knees that tremble. Cut through and make smooth, straight paths for your feet [that are safe and go in the right direction], so that the leg which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather may be healed.”

Sometimes a loss feels like a discipline but I know that I don’t work for results and I am not defined by wins and losses, let alone as a soccer player. I’m defined as a son in the Lord’s kingdom and He loves me no matter how I perform.

Austin’s Questions for Jake:

Austin: MY TURN to ask you some questions. San Antonio had a big crowd. How do you feel when you walk into a packed stadium? Does it change when it’s away? On that note.. What’s the biggest crowd you’ve played in front of?

Jake: I like big crowds. There’s a cool feeling knowing all these people are coming out to watch you play. Best part of a big crowd is the National Anthem. I love the song and I love the song even more when a bunch of people are singing it. The experience does change when you go and play away because the fans are a little more rowdy and not as nice. They say mean stuff, and often inappropriate things that I can’t say here on the blog.

Biggest crowd was 3-2 away win over Maryland in 2015. I think there were 10,000+.

Austin: Surely you can’t be offended by other’s hurled insults… but that’s unbelievable! What was your favorite moment off the field during the San Antonio trip?

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Jake: Best part of the San Antonio trip, was doing the River Walk with the guys after dinner. Lots of good banter, bunch of good pictures taken by team photographer Sam Fink, and I think more importantly tons of great conversations. I remember discussing how many people we thought accidentally fell into to the water. Joey Calistri said less than 10. I chauffed because I know how reckless people get when they have a few too many margs on Cinco De Mayo. The tequila will getcha. Definitely in the 32ish range. If you’ve ever been to San Antonio the water isn’t the cleanest so I pity the people who’ve taken a diver, quite literally even. Or as Sam was telling us last year after OKC won, the owners son willingly jumped in with a friend. Yeah, no thank you.

Austin: Recently you’ve been reading more about nutrition… not because I’m your roommate and good friend or anything… but I’ve taken notice. What’s the most important habit you think you need to change or create to start being more intentional with your food?

Jake: Yeah, I’ve read two books in the last week and half about what types of food we should be eating. The first book was Eat Dirt by Dr. Josh Axe. To summarize it shortly he discusses the pros of getting attuned with nature eating locally sourced fruits and vegetables because those foods have microbiomes which serve to protect you from locally sourced sickness and disease. His other big no-nos, I’m starting to agree with, are gluten and sugar.

The other book was What to Eat by Marion Nestle a nutritional scientist at Columbia University in New York. She runs through pretty much every question you can think of when it comes to food. It’s a little outdated written in 2005 and published in 2006, but otherwise a solid read, especially if you feel a little overwhelmed in the supermarket. I think the most important thing I learned from both of these authors is to read the label of the food you’re going to buy. If it’s more than four basic ingredients is going to be difficult to digest causing bloating and other nefarious symptoms (aka weight gain).

The Irony about the last answer Jake gave is that we’re sitting here enjoying a couple of beers. And we feel that’s totally acceptable too. Sometimes feeding your joy is more important than feeding your gut, am i right?

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The Draft List…
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Side Project Brewery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay Tuned, because a post we feel extremely passionate about is coming soon, and I think you Louligans will want to read it…

This Interview took place sometime in early April at Side Project Brewery, St. Louis, MO while bonding over a Shared brewing project called Base Weight as well as a Side Project Rose de Ble Blend. Big fans we gave it a 4 out of 5! Go support local breweries and businesses! Beer in mind, Enjoy Responsibly Friends!

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Life in the Valley: Trip 1

TEJAS- We wanted to start this blog series with a bang. Naturally, this would refer to something big and we all know that everything is bigger in Texas. Our first game of the season pulled us out of the erratic weather in Saint Louis, into the warmth of a small town in the Rio Grande Valley known as McAllen, TX. While focused on the game at hand, it’s near impossible to wait around all day until kickoff without your mind wandering a bit. Born into existence during our down time, the blog idea kicked off a few hours before the first whistle. Wanting to relate to the fans, another brilliant intention proposed by Jake allowed us to integrate Saint Louis Culture into our storytelling as well. Look at the logo and you should be able to figure out the meaning. However, it’d be a waste of your time, my time, Jake’s time, and time in general to continue rambling about why the blog is superb. Below is our first road trip experience, through the means of an interview where each of us asked the other a few questions. Our hope is that you can not only relate, but realize that we are a lot more than football players. Cheers to meeting us at the cultural crossroads of Saint Louis, Football, and life off the pitch! We hope you accept and enjoy your invitation on the journey with us.

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Sunrise in RGV

INTERVIEW

Jake: How did you feel when you stepped off the plane in RGV?
Austin: I felt a sigh of relief for two reasons: 1) travel days are long, clammy, and claustrophobic. (I sat in the middle and was packed in like a sardine between two bigger people).  2) Knowing you already trained the morning of the flight establishes plans to Netflix and Chill with your roomie (keep your dirty thoughts to yourself).
Jake: Would you have enjoyed the trip, say, if you were visiting McAllen, TX on a business or personal trip?
Austin: I would have been excited to see Texas on a business schedule considering I’ve never been and with a passport because it’s a 5-10 minute drive from the border (another country I haven’t been to).  However, even after a couple of refreshing pitaya bowls, what the city offered was overwhelmingly underwhelming.Processed with VSCO with a5 preset
Jake: Any recommendations for a Louligan if they ever make it down for a road trip?
Austin: Wasn’t there long enough to write a travel guide, but I hear RGV games are a nice stimulant.  Speaking of stimulant, the caffeine for $4 at Reserva Coffee Roasters beats the ridiculously overpriced $1 k-cups in the hotel lobby.  What kind of crap is that!
Jake: Overall impressions of Hotel Cambria?
Austin: K-Cups aside, it’s not common on a USL road trip that your bathroom mirror is a wireless Bluetooth speaker. That’s so fire even the condensation from the shower can’t hold its own on the mirror.  
Jake: First impression and overall thoughts of H-E-B Park?
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HEB Park
Austin: While I was in total awe of their stadium, pitch, facilities etc. I couldn’t help but think this should be the normal standard for a pro footballer in a Division II league (especially when self-proclaimed and promoted as the most prominent D-II league in the world). Nonetheless, I was salivating at an opportunity to slip on some studs for the season opener.  When you see a sprinkler system you’d rather slip on your soft grounds than slip on your rear!
Jake: This is your 4th season as a professional. Talk about your feelings the week leading up to a season opener.
Austin: Every morning I wake up early so that I can spend significant time reading my bible and preparing for the day.
Jake: I would like to note Austin is a weirdo. He wakes up at 4am….. Alright continue.
Austin: My book encourages me to “cast all anxiety on HIM because He cares for [me]” (1 Peter 5:7) But every year I wrestle with this notion because the week leading up is more jittery than an only child with add… oh, snap. that’s also me. For a three month offseason and six week preseason I’ve intentionally calculated my priorities, my schedule, my workouts and my diet.  The sum of every calculation all comes together just a few days before the whistle blows. As I attempt to anticipate how much I’ll play I’m excited regardless of whatever decision is made because my identity isn’t in a a role that’s only going to benefit my own personal goals. My identity to embrace team first, and be a warrior for STLFC.
Austin: As we approached the season opener we knew it was an away game.  What’s the biggest difference between an away and home game in your opinion?
Jake: When I first saw we were away on opening weekend, I was slightly disappointed.  It’s unfortunate because it would have been awesome to kickoff the new season with the Louligans. I think that answers part two as well; the fans are the biggest difference.  Away fans are ruthless towards the opposing goalkeeper. In RGV, I was called Alfalfa from Little Rascals and Jake from State Farm (real original guys). Obviously, at this point in my career it’s mostly white noise and I try to block it out as much as possible.
Austin: Most memorable road trip from seasons past?
Jake: Not quite sure.  Great question. My least favorite was Louisville last season. On the field it was great. We won 3-0 (sorry Sean) and I played well, but some poopy circumstances ruined that trip. Quite Literally. If I had to pick the best away trip it would be Bethlehem Steel in 2016. We ended up winning 2-0 to seal a playoff spot.  In doing so, we knocked Wilmington out of contention, as well as the USL 😛 (sorry Aus).
Austin: Being an Eastern Conference player for 2 seasons, what are your thoughts about being in the West this year?
Jake: West Coast best coast… I’m sponsored by West Coast Goalkeeping so I may be a little biased. I was born in NorCal and raised in SoCal-

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Austin: so you’re hella cool then ^^^
Jake: -so any opportunity to play within driving distance of my fam is awesome.  My family has only seen me play in a handful of games because of my choice to go to college in Akron, OH. I’m stoked to see the crew get together for one of the California games .  From a soccer standpoint, I think there’s a lot of good competition out here in the West. I just have to remind myself airports and airplanes are my friends!
Austin: The roles of field players and of a goalkeeper are different.  How do you keep yourself engaged in the game if you aren’t interacting with the ball as much?
Jake: Being a neon green parakeet, squawking info, and becoming so annoyingly annoying that I can’t even stand my voice after a game….I think yelling kind of helps…… All jokes aside, talking and communicating help me stay tuned into the game.  My main job is to make sure our defenders are aware of any potential danger. At times that means being as paranoid as a super sketched out eccentric scientist who fears a Cold War nuclear apocalypse is always knocking at the front door. (I like movie references, especially obscure and unpopular films like Blast from the Past with Christopher Walken and Branden Fraser, which the late Roger Ebert actually gave 3 out of 4 stars. If you haven’t seen it, please do!) As a GK you always have to fear the worst, and that my friends, is a counter-attack with acres of space in behind with an extremely mobile forward.  
Austin: The game is over.  The result has taken its course, how do you spend your first few hours post game?
Jake: After thanking the fans, doing the post-game protocols (i.e. meeting, media, shower, food etc) the biggest thing I do is text my Mom and Dad back saying thank you and that I love them. I can also expect a text from my brother. If he doesn’t, I’ll reach out and seek his thoughts on the game.  He’s an honest critic so hearing from him helps me start my personal feedback loop. Once I get back home/hotel I lay down and watch tv. (We’ve been big on Netflix’s Most Extraordinary Homes in the World lately). It’s my routine and I’m big on routines as Austin surely knows.
Forgot to mention… at some point Aus bugs me to go somewhere- usually for a beer or pizza. One of the healthiest guys I know, but almost always has a zero discipline policy post games. I either continue reading the book I’ve brought on the trip, or I suck it up and say “fine man.”
 This Interview took place 3/18 at 4Hands Brewing Company, St. Louis, MO while bonding over a PB and Chocolate Milk Stout called Absence of Light. Big fans we gave it a 4 ½ out of 5 and the overall experience was hoppin! Go support local breweries and businesses! Beer in mind, Enjoy Responsibly Friends! 

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4 Hands Brewing Company

 

Welcome to Life Outside of Football

After taking a poll on twitter, Jake Fenlason and I, Austin Martz, have decided to begin a blog to follow our experiences over the course of this season.

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There’s more than just football.

While we are two professional soccer players who love our jobs, we also find great joy in many cultural experiences off the field. The vision may not be totally perfected in terms of content, but that’s part of the journey we’d like to invite you on. We will be exploring many new and unique cities to each of us this year and we’d like to share our adventures with our friends, family, fans, and any other pairs of eyes that gravitate to our handsome background picture, and logo designed by my wife Hannah (she deserves a shout out at the least)! This will include coffee shops, breweries, historical landmarks and more. But since we’re nerdy we may also provide the occasional book food, guide to nutritional wisdom, and try our hand at a little more mature music, like an opera per say! So while we acknowledge the vision isn’t complete, and this post won’t be our best, here’s to the beginning of our adventures as roommates on the road who simply want to connect with those following us!