04 Jan Boots to Suits
I’ve always considered myself someone who has known exactly what I wanted to do with my life, well at least I thought I knew exactly how my life would go. I knew I wanted to be a soccer player. I grew up in Tampa, Florida to parents who had immigrated to America from Jamaica, a country that loves two sports track & field, and soccer. Growing up I would play just about anything and being in Florida we had the weather to be outside all year round, but it was soccer that I found myself obsessed with from an early age.
One of my earliest memories sporting wise was watching Jamaica play at the 1998 World Cup. I was only 7 but I’ll never forget the moment that Robbie Earle (more on him later) scored Jamaica’s first ever goal at a World Cup against Croatia. When they cut to the shots of the crowd after the goal and I saw this small section of black, green, and gold going wild – not to mention how happy everyone in my house was. It was one of those things you never forget so from then on my only goal was to play professional soccer. I never made that dream a reality but I did play division 1 at Sacred Heart University and also played for a summer in the PDL (Premier Development League) team for VSI Tampa Bay FC playing alongside players who had represented the US youth national teams, and played at the biggest schools in the country so I know it would be naïve of me to just dismiss that because not many can say that they had that opportunity to go that far, and for that I’m thankful.
So here I am about a year ago with my playing career done, just finished with school and truthfully no idea what was next. I thought maybe coaching was the path for me and I loved it to be fair but I was still missing THAT feeling that playing in the biggest games would give me. It’s hard to explain exactly what that feeling is but anyone who has played in a game that meant something to them knows what I mean. It’s such a rush when you’ve worked, and trained for a moment, and then it finally comes. For me I always felt I played best when all the pressure was on and I never truly got that feeling outside of soccer until I was in grad school and asked to anchor our class’ first show. When the lights came on and I saw that red light flick on it hit me again. It was like saying hello to an old friend. It was at that moment I realized that being in media was what I wanted to do.
While I was an intern at NBC Sports I had the privilege of meeting Arlo White the lead soccer commentator for NBC. After talking soccer with Arlo he invited me to shadow a Premier League Live show when he was hosting and there I was meeting the guys I watch every weekend. I talked with Arlo White, Robbie Earle, and Kyle Martino about career goals, and received some priceless advice from them such as understanding, and loving the process. To say it was humbling would be an understatement.
I’ll leave you with this – for any former athletes who are about to hang up their boots and thinking about making the transition into the media just know that this will take up just as much of your life as playing whatever sport it is that you play. It’s a different kind of hustle, but make no mistake it’s still a grind.