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.
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.
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?
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-
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!