By Charles Barnard
Today marks the 100th blog post for From the Upper Deck. I think it is only fitting that the 100th post marks the return of my series looking at the RSL Family. This series is probably the one that is my personal favorite on the blog.
When I had the idea to write about the family aspect of the team the thought was that it would be just one article. I would get a couple of quotes from various people, combine it all together and that would be that. It still surprises me how far away from that original idea this series has grown. I just love to hear what the RSL Family means to people. From players, to fans, to coaches, I have really learned how special this family is.
One person that I have always wanted to hear from was team captain Kyle Beckerman. He has been the face of the team since his arrival almost eight years ago. I figured that if there was one person that would have some opinions about the RSL Family, it would be him.
I had the great opportunity to talk with Kyle at RSL media day. I asked him the same question that I had asked everyone else up to this point. What does the RSL Family mean to you?
It is not just a business. I think that is different than a lot of teams. It feels like we are all in this together. We are all fighting for soccer in Utah. To make a statement throughout the country that we are different. We play good soccer out here. This is who we are. I think we are all in this fight together in a way. When you are fighting for something, it brings you together as a family. It seems like we are embracing the fans and everybody.
For me, to play for that type of team, that is what I love to play for. That is what I like to fight for. That is the passion that I have inside me. It is pretty cool that I get to play here. I think that is why so many guys have been here for so long, because we all enjoy it.
I then asked him if he felt we had something unique with the RSL Family.
Absolutely, we totally do. I don't know why it is that way here but it is and we are pretty lucky.
At media day I also had the chance to speak with Bill Riley. Riley has been with the team doing play-by-play from the very beginning. Having seen so many highs and lows with RSL, I thought I would get his perspective as well. Again, I asked him what the RSL family meant to him.
I guess I am technically part of the family since I have been here since the beginning. I guess it means great support. I think our group of fans are as much invested in this team as any group of fans. Other places may have bigger crowds and things like that but I don't think there is a group of fans that are as invested as our fans are in the day in and day out stuff. They want to know what is going on in training. They want to know what the line up is going to be. They want to know who is out there in the transfer window. They want to know what events are coming up.
It is a tight knit group. I think our group of players and front office and organization probably do as good a job as anyone in the league of making the fans feel like they are a part of the family.
I just wanted to thank Kyle and Bill for giving me a few moments of their time. I found both their comments fascinating. I loved hearing Kyle's remarks about how he loves to play here. I think that many sporting fans in Utah worry about sports athletes not wanting to play in Utah. The Jazz have had to deal with that for a long time. That doesn't seem to be a problem with this team, and it seems like the family aspect has a big part to play in that.
I also was very interested in what Bill had to say about the fans. We see fan bases like Seattle and Portland and wonder how we compare. Everyone can see that we are different than those fan bases, but that is not a bad thing. And I love how hard the organization works at making us feel a part of the family.
We have something unique here. And I agree with Kyle that we are pretty lucky because of it.