“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” A quote that I got from my brother when he was running track in college, and a quote that I believe is very relevant to my career. Always being the underdog, it is important for me to work hard to be ready for my upcoming preseason, wherever that may be. At the moment I am not signed to a team, but that doesn’t mean that I can just sit around and do nothing. When deals happen, they happen fast. I can be at home one day, and get a call from my agent telling me I am leaving the next day to a new country or city. If I go somewhere unprepared I am just setting myself up for failure. And failure is not an option for me!
The offseason, for me, is not a time to let it all go completely. Of course when I first get home I want to relax a bit, see my family and friends, spend some time doing things I cannot do while in season, but soccer is still on my mind. About 2 weeks after finishing up this past season with Rossiyanka, and letting my body recover, my down time was over. It was time to get back after it. I have to get in preseason shape, improve my ability, get stronger, and work harder than ever before. Many people think that an offseason is just that, and preseason is used to get ready for the next season. They are mistaken. For me, I like to go into a preseason as best prepared as I can be. So during this “time off” I do not have the privilege of becoming a couch potato. I cannot eat whatever I want and be unhealthy. I must still put the work in on and off the field. Your job doesn’t stop when a season ends.
There is always something to work on. I can always improve my game. It is important to work on the weak points of my game, but the strong ones still need attention. It’s important to find the fun in your job. I think that I have the best job in the world, but there are even some days that I do not want to go to work. Nobody wants to get up and go to a field that is supposed to have 22 people on it, and be the only one, or go to a gym where it is just you and four walls. If I go to a racquetball court and my goal is to play the ball 100 times against the wall with my left foot in one touch and one time I take two touches, then I have more work to do. Some of the work that needs to be done can be repetitive and tedious, but now is the time to perfect your imperfections. It is always easier to get your sprints in when you have someone to run them with and to help push yourself. It’s also easier to work on shooting, or passing, or technical work when you have someone across from you giving the ball back to you, but in the offseason, a lot of my work is on my own. There are definitely times when I want to stop early, or skip that last sprint, or say I’ll do more tomorrow to make up for today, but I can’t do that. There are no short cuts!
To play at this level it takes a lot of dedication. You have to put in the work, the hours and the energy to get to the top and be the best. If you’re not working, someone else is, and it gives those working harder an advantage. There are no excuses. I’ve overcome many challenges and setbacks to get to where I am now and go through the experiences I have so far, and I can’t just stop here. Becoming a professional soccer player was a dream of mine, but that doesn’t mean I am done dreaming. I have high hopes, more dreams, and more things to strive for. It is a new year, a new season, a new team, a new dream. Right now there is still an unknown, which is okay because I have put in and am continuing to put in the work. So until I sign that new contract I just have to prepare myself. I have to find that open field or those empty stadium stairs. Then when I’m done with that, I’ll grab my ball, find an empty wall, and go to work.