It never really occurred to me during my playing days, how much of an impact competition and teamwork had on all aspects of my life. As I get older I realize that organized sports taught me some very important life lessons; how to win humbly, how to lose, how to function within a team and how to dedicate myself to succeed...
Unfortunately there are kids out there who may never learn these important lessons through sports, because they don't have all of the same opportunities that I had growing up. This past Monday, as I sat in the Junior Ballroom at the Radisson Greentree listening to partial owner Jay Hill speak at a 'Meet the Hounds' event, a few things really got my attention:
- Kids who cannot afford shin guards and shoes are going to get shin guards and shoes
- Kids who cannot afford to train are going to train at our academies
It became clear that this ownership group wasn't out to make a quick buck or possess something to showcase...they genuinely care about soccer in Western Pennsylvania. They want to help the sport grow and succeed and have committed themselves to the community. One of the next speakers (Jason Kutney - Riverhounds defender and partial owner) hammered home these same points...he emphasized how dedicated this ownership group and organization as a whole are to making this all work.
Talk is cheap though, right? Show me the goods...that's what I always say!
After a series of presentations ended the Hounds players mingled with guests and I had an eye opening conversation with one player in particular. Ryan Caugherty comes home after spending several seasons in Europe; he's a Penn Hills graduate and played 4 years in the ACC conference for Wake Forest. He's had some really cool experiences overseas, so if you ever get the chance to rap with him take it! Long story short, this guy has it all right. He's dedicated himself to the sport. He loves the game. He feeds off the passion of the supporters and fans. Most importantly, he gives back to the sport that gave him all these things. I'm not too sure what Jason Kutney and management had to do to convince Ryan to come home, but he's here now and we're lucky to have him back for the summer.
So while we watch our beloved Hounds this season, take the time to look around the stands. If you see some kids, be friendly. Talk to them. Ask them questions. Make them feel at home. Be an ambassador for the game! These kids are the future of soccer in Western PA, we all have an important role in the big picture.