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, October 3, 2013

RSL Family- Garth Lagerwey

What is a family? Your family are people that are always there for you. They are there in the good times and in the bad. They are there to pick you up when you are down. As I write this, I am down. I am still reeling from the gut punch that was the US Open Cup final. My original plan was to write a different blog post today. But I just couldn't get motivated to write anything. So I am turning to something that will lift me up. I am turning to the RSL Family.

This series of posts that I have written has brought me a lot of joy. I love to hear people's perspectives on something that I have come to truly love. The last area of the team that I have yet to hear from is the front office. Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with the General Manager of RSL, Garth Lagerwey. I asked him the same question that I have asked everyone else up to this point. What does the RSL Family mean to you? I also asked him if what we have here is unique?

Before I came out and took the job in 2007 I had been in Utah for one day. Jason (Kreis) and I went four wheeling after a game I did as a television announcer for DC United. So I knew nothing about the state and I had spent my life in the Midwest and the East Coast. I grew up in Chicago and professionally I had been in DC. I had probably a lot of the stereotypes that the East Coast types had about Utah based purely out of ignorance. The thing that has meant a whole bunch to me is that since I have moved here and got married and had a kid it has been just a wonderful experience for my family. The community has been so welcoming, so hospitable, and they have so embraced our team, it has just been a wonderful personal experience.
And to do that in the context of the coaching staff where Jeff (Cassar) Jason and I have worked together for six years. And Miles (Joseph) and CJ (Brown) a little bit less. We are so tight on the technical side as well. That has been a very cool strength to have. Jeff and Jason are guys that I have known for 20 years and that is a big deal. Actually 25 years for Jason. But it has become more than that on the technical side where we have worked together and have gone through so much together where it is now a really tight knit group. So to have both the community side and the staff side has been really neat. 
I think it is unique to have a staff the way we have a staff and I think being able to start in a smaller place like Salt Lake gave us a chance to build what we wanted to build. I think we would have had more scrutiny and harsher media attention in a larger city. Now I say that but in 2007 most people were not very kind to us. Certainly when we were hired there were not a lot of people that heard of Jason coming straight off the playing field and had never heard of me, understandably. So we felt we had a lot to prove and we turned that into a strength because we were very very hungry and we were willing to work very hard to prove everyone wrong. But I think this community enabled that to happen. The other person that deserves credit too is Dave Checketts because he is the guy that hired us and stuck with us and gave us time to develop and figure it out. Lots of things contribute to success and I am just really grateful for the progress we have been able to make. 
The thing we tried to do is to figure out what we believed in and put it on paper. Jason was the driver of that and deserves a lot of credit for that. And I viewed our job in terms of linking soccer to the community which is a general description of my job, my off the field soccer job. We tried to make the things we believed in like "the team is the star" to make a reflection in the community. We have tried very very hard to do that and I think our fans have embraced it and it has resonated and that is what is what has contributed to everyone feeling a part of this. Is it unique? I don't know if it is unique, that might be too strong of a word but it is special. 
 At this point I mentioned how I believe that the RSL Family, as we know it today, really started to form as the fans and community rallied around Andy William's wife Marcia when she was fighting leukemia.
I think that is a great point. Marcia still sits in my box every game with Andy. I still wear my wristband for her. That one means a lot to me. I am just so grateful for every day that we have Marcia. I think that is astute and probably right. It is probably no coincidence that in 2009 we needed perhaps a little something to put us over the top. And if you ever had a rough day you could always look over at Andy and see what he was going through and know that somebody has it worse. 
I think Garth hit the nail on the head when he said we have something special here. I totally agree with him. We do have something special. This fact is so much more clear to me than it was prior to me starting these blog posts.

But why? Why is it so special? One reason has to be the people involved. There are so many good people involved in the RSL Family. Brian Dunseth mentioned that when I spoke to him. He specifically talked about how all the players are just good guys. He is right. And we, as fans, can see that and it makes us love them even more. I have not interacted with one person in the whole RSL organization that has not been great to work with. Garth is no exception. He has been great to me the few times I have talked to him and just seems like a really good guy.

I am grateful for my RSL Family. Once again it has lifted me up when I was feeling down.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks a lot for this article and the RSL family series. It helps keep things in perspective during a tough week.