Jamie's Journal: Fan friendly
Welcome to today's fan-filled edition of Jamie's Journal. The reason I say this edition will be fan-filled is because we have our very first segment of fan requested ideas that will be introduced today! That's right, my e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org is now up and running, and I had a couple of very good ideas thrown my way from some of the dedicated readers. To show my appreciation, I thought it would be fitting to give Melissa of Miami and Sarah from my home state of Texas (holler!) a shout-out and fulfill their requests. So let's kick off today's journal with a new segment I like to call ...
You Call the Shots
Each time in "You call the Shots" I will take one fan's request or suggestion and make sure to put it in the article to show that I, as well as the rest of the guys, do care about what matters to you and what you want to know. Since today is the first time we are doing this, and since I was so stoked about having fan mail (albeit only 5 due to technical difficulties), I thought we could use two ideas today to start us off right. We'll start off today by taking Melissa-from-Miami's idea of adding in "The funniest moment of the day."
Well, here we go, Melissa. There has been an ongoing competition of "Rookie Survivor" for the first-year players set up by the veterans on the team (mainly Jason Kreis, Brian Dunseth and DJ Countess) that has us young guys battling through hazing rituals and outrageous "competitions" to say the least. On day one the league's all-time leading scorer had us running into the ocean that was an estimated temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and seeing who could run out the fastest. I was the last one out because I could barely feel most parts of my body. What was the punishment for coming in last? Well, I am now sporting a new hairstyle. Yep, the last place rookie after each event has to shave their head and wear a ridiculous little girl's shirt that is a youth medium with flared sleeves and flared sleeves and exposed belly. Not only are you embarrassed with your new haircut (thanks Dunny for leaving just enough growth to shave lines in the side of my head), but then you have to wear half a girl's shirt to dinner.
This "team bonding exercise" leads us up to today's funniest moment, featuring rookie goalkeeper Noah Palmer. Noah came in last place in the rookie challenge that had us singing karaoke in front of about 100 people in the lobby one night. He couldn't sing, he couldn't dance, so basically he failed miserably. Watching Noah sing and then seeing him get his head shaved and THEN seeing him wearing the girl's shirt out to eat at a pizzeria that night is by far today's funniest moment!
Sarah from Austin had the idea/request of me putting pictures from the trip in my journal. I thought it would be a good idea to put a picture of Noah in today's journal showing you why this is the funniest moment of the day. Thank you Melissa and Sarah for the great ideas today, and make sure all you other fans out there to send in your feedback, who knows, maybe next time it will be your suggestion that makes it into the journal!
Getting Caught Up ...
I apologize in the delay of getting you, the readers, the full detail of our recent games vs. two Portuguese professional sides. We started off the first day against Beira Mar with a side of mostly younger players who put on a show for the home side Beira Mar. The game started off strong with yours truly getting the first goal of the match and the first of my career with Real Salt Lake. After taking an earl 1-0 lead, we quickly jumped up 2-0 when rookie Kevin Novak scored less than five minutes later. The half was then mostly a midfield battle with Evan Whitfield, Brian Kamler and Luke Kreamalmeyer showing the opposing midfielders just how it's supposed to be done. We took a 2-0 lead into halftime and came out very strong in the 2nd half. Evan Whitfield slipped me in on a one-v-one with the keeper and we went up 3-0 at about the 60th minute. From then on the game was well out of reach. "Laser Luke" finished Beira Mar off with a clever chip to cap off the scoring at 4-0.
The next game pitted us against Portuguese second division side Portimonense. Portimonense held possession of the ball early and looked as though they might dictate the pace of the game. That changed about 10 minutes in when we went on the attack and started dominating the game.
That all culminated with Brian Kamler making a dashing run through the defense and getting fouled at the top of the box. From there Jason Kreis took over and hit an unbelievable free kick that made the goalie look ridiculous for even trying to save it. Then the hacking started from Portimonense. We took a lot of dirty kicks after the play and even a lot during the run of play but kept our composure well and finished the half making only one mistake. That mistake was a well-taken free kick by one of their players from about 20 yards out that found the top right corner to level the score.
Even though the score said 1-1, everyone there would have agreed that we played much better soccer than Portimonense. After the break, we made a few changes and brought different guys in and the game was pretty much a stalemate from their end. They sat back and didn't attack while forwards Kreis, Jordan Cila, Dipsy Selolwane and Luke K. started picking apart their defense. However, we weren't able to finish any of our chances and the game ended 1-1. Portimonense was a good side and it proved to be a good test for us as a team that we handled very well and a lot of positives came from the game, even though we didn't get the result we wanted. Our next game is on Tuesday, March 8, vs. Recreativo Huelva.
Feature Player of the Day
Today's Feature player of the day is rookie Kevin Novak. Kevin has such an inspirational story to everyone out there who thinks a lot of guys in the professional ranks don't scrape and crawl their way to where they are. The other day during a conversation, Kevin told his story about how he went to Loyola Marymount University in South California for four years and had hoped to get an invite to the MLS Combine where he would get seen by all the coaches in hopes of getting drafted. Well, a few months before the Combine Kevin suffered a knee injury and was unable to go to the Combine and went undrafted in the 2004 SuperDraft. This would be devastating for anyone and for many it would be the end of their soccer playing days. But not Kevin Novak, as you will soon learn.
So what do you do when you are recovering from an injury and weren't picked up from a team and you still have all the normal finances that any 22-year-old has? Well, Kevin got a job at a local California Pizza Kitchen as a waiter and put in many long nights to save up some money. Why was he saving money? Well, while working, he was also rehabbing from his knee injury and after he fully recovered, he got a trial with the Columbus Crew and used his savings to help cover the expenses of spending a week on the road. After playing a week with the guys in Columbus, the coaches told him it wasn't the right time and told him to keep at it and come back next year. That still didn't stop Kevin from achieving his dream. If this was you, would you still have the determination to stay in tip-top shape and maintain your touch of the ball? To ensure he didn't lose either his touch or his fitness, Kevin trained with local club teams and worked out a lot on his own while still having the full-time waiter position. Still think you would be working this hard?
Fast forward several months to when it was announced that there would be a new expansion MLS team based out of Salt Lake City. Several weeks after the team was established, a local tryout was set up, with players attending by invitation only. Kevin got the chance he had been working for. He was invited to the tryout and did so well that he caught the eye of coach John Ellinger and general manager Steve Pastorino.
About a week after the tryout, Kevin got a call from Pastorino that he had been invited to join Real Salt Lake during preseason training camp in Bradenton, Fla. Not only had he done well at the tryout, he did well enough to get invited to be apart of the team for a preseason camp. Since Kevin has been in camp with us, he has done very well and has even started a few games. He did so well while in Florida that he was invited to another camp with us here in Portugal and is playing so well that he is hoping to be offered a contract this year to play for Real Salt Lake.
This was something I wanted to share with everyone to show how some people, including Kevin, don't have an open road paved with gold where they can just waltz onto a professional team; we all have to earn it. And Kevin has definitely earned it.
I hope you enjoyed as much as I did learning about rookie Kevin Novak and hopefully we can all take something from his story and apply it into just how much we push ourselves in our everyday lives. Thanks for reading along with us today and I hope all of you check back in with me again for the next edition of Jamie's Journal. You can email me at Jamie@realsaltlake.com with anything you like. Take care everyone!