Welcome to From The Upper Deck, my blog about RSL and soccer in general. I have a lot of passion for the beautiful game. I am just a fan that likes to sit in the upper deck and take it all in.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

RSL Family- Nat Borchers and Ned Grabavoy

As I have been doing my research on the RSL Family one of the places that it is most visible is on Twitter. Take a second and go to Twitter and search either #RSLFamily or #RSLFam. It is pretty cool to see how many people use those hash tags.

Let me give an example. Last night was the Meet the Team night for season ticket holders. Six different players got on to Twitter after the event to thanks fans for coming and used one of those two hash tags. The players believe in the RSL Family.

This was apparent when I was interviewing players after the last Portland match. Today I will share the comments that both Nat Borchers and Ned Grabavoy shared with me. I first asked Borchers about Coach Kreis' comments about being a team that is very close with each other and then his general thoughts on the RSL Family.

Borchers had this to say.

I think we have a really special group this year. Everyone has grown together from preseason until now. We have had some lows and some highs. I think everyone is really selfless on this team which is important. Everybody understands the system and they want to work for each other. There are no prima donna's running around the locker room which is huge. I think that it is a really special group.
I think Dave Checketts started that atmosphere when he built this team and started this franchise. Jason (Kreis) really thinks it is important to treat everyone like family who comes into this squad and is a part of this team in one way or another. It really helps out with the camaraderie  when you have got guys hanging off the field together doing things together. You really just buy into the message that Jason has sent to us.
Borchers makes a point that I had not really considered when it comes to the RSL Family. The roots really reach back to the formation of the team by Dave Checketts. I think it was Checketts that really had a vision of a family atmosphere for the team although I doubt he ever thought it would be the way it is now.

Grabavoy also had some interesting thoughts about the team. I asked him the same question about Coach Kreis' comments as well as if the RSL Family was something unique and different than other places around the league.

I think he (Kreis) is pretty spot on. Guys make the unselfish play, the unselfish pass knowing that it will be returned. I agree it is a great group. It is enjoyable to come in. It is easier when you win. Everyone is always happy when you win games. But it is enjoyable to come into work everyday. And it hasn't always been that way my whole career. it hasn't been that way for a lot of careers but it is very enjoyable.
I think so but I think other teams are starting that trend as well. I think our coaching staff, everyone feels comfortable talking to them and being around them. We can go to them for help. Our assistant coaches are great being personable and coming and not just asking about soccer but asking about family, about life. They really care about every player here. I think you see a connect between the coaching staff and management and the players. I don't think you get that on every team. It is a little bit separated. Some coaching staffs aren't around the players as much and talking to the players. I think that is because they are ex-players. They remember how it was. I think that helps as well.

One of the most interesting things about talking to the players was that each one had such a different perspective on the RSL Family. Grabavoy was the first to really talk about how important the coaches are to the team and to the family in general. Brian Dunseth brought up the coaching staff as well when I spoke to him about the RSL Family. The coaches seem to be really key to creating a positive atmosphere for the players. And that positive atmosphere appears to translate to positive results on the field.

This series on looking at the RSL Family has grown to be so much more than what I originally envisioned. I have now spoken with both former and current RSL players on the subject. I have also spoken with one of the broadcast crew, received some quotes from some academy players and shared some stories from some great fans. I am going to continue to try to bring different perspectives on the RSL Family. But I would love to hear what you think. What does the RSL Family mean to you? Share your thoughts below in the comments section. Or if you would like, send me an email (charles@fromtheupperdeck.com) telling me your story.

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