Soccer has taken me on an incredible journey. I played in college, played professionally, traveled all over the world, and made experiences that will last a lifetime.
With the induction into SMU’s Hall of Fame, this journey reaches a new height.
My exposure to soccer started early. I was three years old, and my father was hit with the soccer bug — so, naturally, I was hit with the soccer bug, too.
He would take me to Dallas Burn (later becoming FC Dallas) games, watch Bundesliga highlights on TV, and I was by his side through it all. He just wanted to show me what he saw in soccer.
The adrenaline of the matches, seeing the incredible athleticism on display, I mean, there’s a reason we call it the beautiful game, right?
When I was ten, soccer became my favorite sport.
That summer, the World Cup came to Texas, and my Dad saved up every penny so we could attend all the games here in Texas. It was thrilling. Being part of that enormous crowd and watching the greatest teams compete at the highest level was exhilarating.
After that, I was hooked.
Since that summer of ’94, soccer has played an integral role in my life.
I’m a Texan through and through. I take pride in being a Texan and representing it everywhere I go. So, when it was time for me to pick a school to attend, the choice was easy — SMU.
I was so confident that I wanted to be a Mustang that I committed before the start of my senior year.
Being part of SMU is special.
I know everyone says it, but it’s truly a family here.
It’s a bond that extends beyond the school. It’s a bond bigger than Texas itself. Whenever I meet a fellow alumn, there’s an instant connection and familiarity. We walked the same halls, experienced the same atmosphere; we are family members who just haven’t met before.
That type of brotherhood is rare, and it was something I had the privilege of being part of here at SMU.
But that doesn’t mean things came easy.
Playing soccer at SMU is competitive. Very competitive.
Not just in our conference, but in our locker room. We all pushed each other to be better, but we’d also pick each other up if we were down. This bond created the best team I was ever a part of, the 2005 team that went on to the College Cup.
Everyone speaks so fondly about the ’05 team now, but people forget that we started pretty mediocre. I was a Junior that season and I remember sitting in the bus furious at myself after a blowout loss.
I’m the leader of this team, and this is going to be my legacy.
I wasn’t going to be part of such a season. No way!
I made a vow that day on the bus that things were going to change.
I was going to take action and be a better leader.
Later on that season, we were struggling in a game that went to overtime. I was so angry at our performance that I snatched the ball from our usual free-kick taker to take one myself.
Usually, that wasn’t my role, but I walked up to my teammates and insisted that I take the shot.
My teammates were a little shocked at my forwardness, but they let me take it. I hit the back of the net and scored the game-winning goal.
Between us, I’m glad I did because if not, Coach would’ve killed me the next day!
But sometimes you have to be brave and be a bit stubborn.
My team needed me to step up, and I forced myself to do so.
Fortunately, it helped set the tone for the rest of the year. We never looked back after that — we went on to have one of the best seasons in SMU history.
My years at SMU went by quickly.
A couple of days after I got done with college soccer, the phone rang off the hook with agents looking to represent me. Tryouts here, workouts there; this was no longer just for fun — soccer was my job.
It was a scary new horizon, and luckily, I had my support system to help me navigate it. The connections I made at SMU helped me throughout my eight-year soccer career and beyond.
I always knew coaches, faculty, and teammates were just a call away, willing to help me if I ever needed advice or just a shoulder to lean on.
Cause us Mustangs stick together on and off the Hilltop.
Now that my playing years are behind me, I’m looking to give back to the athletes coming up. I see that a lot of them need guidance in life beyond their sport.
We are more than just athletes; we are human beings trying to be the best we can be on and off the field.
I struggled with this after soccer.
I battled with depression, and at times it felt like I had nothing. I was directionless and with no purpose.
Thanks to my support system, I realized I have so much more left in me. I want to guide athletes through their journeys, so they know it’s okay to struggle. I want future athletes to be better prepared than I was.
That’s my calling today and in the future.
When I got the call that I would be inducted into the SMU Hall of fame, I cried.
To think that they remember the impact I had and are acknowledging the things I’ve done 15 years later is so moving.
Being a member of the SMU Hall of Fame is the most incredible honor I could ever receive. Tremendous athletes such as Eric Dickerson and Raymond Berry have been inducted before me.
It’s a privilege to be a part of this now, and doubtlessly, I’ll continue to represent SMU to the best of my ability for as long as I live.