Wade Barrett

Barrett: Putting in an appearance

Oh the places you'll go, Quakes fans, oh the places you'll go. You've got soccer on the brain and we have much to lose, but we can control things if we only choose; to take control of the West and head for the line, win the next three games and we'll be doing fine. There will be ups and downs as we wind down the road, but we'll share in the burden so we can lighten the load; New England is next so we're off to the East, three points are ours, or one at the least. Back home for Salt Lake we'll make it a date, game starts at seven so don't be late; the Galaxy we'll play last and they're a credible foe, shut down LD and they're not so tough, though. So ... whether you like Cerritos or Chung or that wily man Ching, or Califf and Onstad with the defensive thing, you're off to the playoffs! Today is your day! MLS Cup is waiting. So get on your way!

That's right, folks, today was appearance day. That most infamous of days that players have a strict love-hate-relationship with. As many of you are aware, soccer is not at the point quite yet where the league sells itself. We have to do everything we can to get out into the community and encourage people to spend their entertainment dollars on coming to see professional soccer.

Most players really enjoy this part of being a pro athlete, even if they don't know it when they get the appearance sheet. For example, when our team admin shows up in the locker room with appearance sheets for players, that place clears out faster than a cramped room on Refried Bean night. For some reason, we get bummed when a precious hour or two gets cut out of our afternoon naptime, and we have to don the Quakes polo shirt for a public event. In the end, though, 99 percent of the guys will say they had a good time. Our front office does a good job of setting up valuable experiences for us, such as youth soccer events and reading programs at schools, that prove to be a lot of fun for us as players.

It's not always been that way. My first appearance as a member of the Clash in 1998 was at a middle school assembly. I hadn't been informed that I would be addressing the entire student body for a 15 minute speech. Speech? I hadn't prepared any stinkin' speech. I had about 15 seconds to contemplate that while I made my way to the front of the auditorium. The normally loud and rambunctious kids were dead quiet. Crickets and grasshoppers could be heard for miles. I stumbled and bumbled through about 1minute42seconds of inane soccer talk, before the front office staff member saved me with Clash giveaways and trivia questions. Another time I sat at a fitness club for two hours and signed four autographs. Oh yeah, it was "rush hour" at the gym, probably 200 people passed by our table right near the front desk. "Would you like an autograph?" "Uh, no thank you." Sweet. Nothing like a kick in the teeth when no one knows who you are. Or cares.

Fortunately, the good experiences I've had representing the Clash/Quakes in the community have far outweighed the bad. Tuesday's Get a Kick Out of Reading appearance with Mrs. Shin's 3rd grade class at Matsumoto Elementary School was both fun and rewarding. Thanks for allowing me in your classroom, and good luck with tomorrow's pop quiz on rounding!

Oh, the places you'll go,