"Pete was the first person to reach out to me about wanting to write for the blog. Pete is a new board member of the Pride along with myself, and has been a great addition to the team. This introduction will let you get to know Pete, continue our series on supporter stories, and get you excited about new content coming to the blog. And not to steal Pete's thunder, rumors are he's working on an audio project for The Pride that should be pretty awesome when complete. Enjoy" - Kevin Wallace
Over 20 years ago I began my journey of soccer which has led me to being the FC Cincinnati fan I am today. What seems both like yesterday and forever ago I began playing soccer in my local rec league in Wyoming, OH, and yes, I was coached by my mom. Looking back on it I was nothing special, I did what ever other 4 year old did, I ran around the small field, chasing the ball. But soccer wasn’t my favorite, it was something I did to run around and I was competitive so I wanted to play any sport I could. I played for the rec teams for most of my childhood, up until I started playing for my grade school teams. When I first started playing sports in grade school I focused on my two favorite sports, basketball and baseball, I can remember playing for both St. Bart’s and Wyomings baseball teams one year.
But in fourth grade I choose to play the other futbal, that of the American variety. This was the early 2000’s and soccer wasn’t really nearly as big as it is now. We didn’t have a soccer team at school and if I wanted to play with my friends I had to either play select soccer or play football. I wanted to play with my friends and football was the way to go. I mean I think the biggest soccer story I can remember growing up was when the US Women beat China in the World Cup and Brandi Chastain took off her shirt to celebrate. Maybe that’s just me having a bad memory but soccer wasn’t my sport. I grew up watch Xavier basketball and going to Cincinnati Reds games and tuning in each Sunday to watch the Bengals.
It wasn’t until my seventh grade year that I got smart and left my football ways. I mean I weighted 120 pounds, soaking wet. I took a beating out there playing football and so I decided I wanted to give soccer another try. Again this wasn’t anything big, it was just a rec team with some friends of mine, but I remember having a lot of fun. I never scored in a game, though I did get two shots on target once, but it I think I started to realize then how much I enjoyed soccer. In high school some of the band kids (yeah, that’s me) got together for an indoor team. Again that was fun! Well, that first season was rough, we brought in one of our varsity soccer players as a ringer and we got placed in the hardest league but it was always fun.
In college I think I finally began to love soccer. A friend of our was dating one of the womens’ soccer player and the one time they made it to the tournament we hoped on the bus Morehead reserved with some of the squad that wasn’t playing, some cheerleaders, and a few other fan to drive like 6 hours down to Wake Forest to watch the girls play. I think that moment I knew I loved soccer, even as the girls lost, it was a fun and exciting 90 minutes.
When I wasn’t practicing or playing my saxophone (yeah, more music) I started watching soccer more regularly. Thanks to cable I was able to watch some sort of football all day on Sunday, I’d wake up, watch some EPL, turn on CBS, watch the Bengals, and maybe catch the Sunday night MLS game on ESPN. I started chatting with some friends who were Crew fans and Galaxy fans, and so like my playing career I got into in because of my friends.
After college I had my EPL team, Tottenham Hotspur, my MLS team, Portland Timbers, I watched almost all of the US national team games and it was fun to watch, but it was lacking something. It was lacking friends.
FC Cincinnati just came along at the right time for me but I was hooked from the day I heard about the announcement of a team. Having been a relative newbie to the support scene I really had no idea about what game day would be like. After grabbing some season tickets for the Bailey I was looking forward to cheering on the team in a section I hoped would be fun.
After spending probably too much work time staying up to date with the team I stumbled across the supporters group section of the website. I took some time and read up on each group. While they all have their own upside, I kept coming back to The Pride. Sure, I have some German heritage but I haven’t lived in the city for 20 years, I don’t have any kids, and while I went to school on the west side, I definitely was not a west-sider. What stood out to me was this quote, “We welcome everyone to join us in spirited support of the team and to create the highest-quality supporters culture.” So I signed up for The Pride.
I figured at worst I have a bar to go to before the games and at best I have a few friends I sit with at the games. What I got was so much more than that. And that was evident form the first friendly at Nippert stadium. I drag along my dad and we go down to Brass Tap (yeah, remember that place?) and within a few minutes I met Payne. From that moment on I knew I had found the right place. Everyone I met that night was excited, not just for the game, but to meet each other.
Since that first friendly I have grown to love this group. I brought along my girlfriend, knowing nothing about soccer, and you’d never guess what happens over the next few years. From that small decision to choose The Pride, Abbey and I have had a lot of great things come about in the soccer world. I am now an at-large member of the executive board, Abbey is the membership coordinator, I play the snare down in the Bailey, and we now have great friends, great times, and great soccer.
As someone who loves to do things with friends, FC Cincinnati has become so much better for me because of the relationships I have gained from joining The Pride. I want to spread that openness, that friendliness, I saw from day one. So if you see me at the bar before a game or walking down the street with some gear on, come and say hi! I’ll be sure to do the same.